We all know by now that Roddy White wants to end his career in Atlanta, but the more pressing question remains: will the Falcons oblige him?
First, let's take just a second to make sure everyone's on the same page about his current contract. It expires at the conclusion of the 2014 season. His cap number in 2014 is $6.35 million, the smallest it's been since his current five year contract was inked.
Second, let's evaluate his recent production. 2014 was an injury-plagued season for White. Despite his persistent ankle injury, he came on strong in December, proving there's still plenty left in his figurative tank. He graded out negatively in the passing game (-6.1 or 50/57 receivers who played 60 percent of their team's offensive snaps). His negative rating is a direct product of three abysmal performances in week 4 (Patriots), week 11 (Bucs), and week 17 (Panthers). Prior to his poor performance in week 17, he'd recorded positive ratings in 3/5 games.
Football Outsiders didn't grade him as harshly. He ended the season with positive DVOA (2.6 percent more efficient than league average or 38/90 receivers with at least 50 passes). In short - and maybe this is too simplistic a viewpoint - he had some good games and some bad games. He exceeded expectations at the tail end of the seasons, once the playoffs were well out of reach. Even with a poorly-managed ankle injury and a poor supporting cast (i.e., no Julio Jones and an offensive line that couldn't spell "pass protection" if Matt Ryan's life depended on it), he still accrued 700+ receiving yards.
So why does it make sense to extend Roddy now? On some level, it does feel like the end of an era. Jones is emerging and White is fading into the background. Half way through next season, White will be 33 years old. He's probably got two or three respectable years left. But as complimentary receivers go, he's got plenty of value to offer. The Falcons could do far worse at WR2. There's little merit in putting off the inevitable, especially with an outspoken player like White. Both the Falcons and White want to see him conclude his career in Atlanta. Rather than drags things out, extinguish any risk of controversy and get a deal done. In my mind, now is an ideal time. And of course by "now," what I mean is the next 2-3 months, preferably before training camp. It doesn't have to happen tomorrow, and to be sure, both parties must be selfish, to some degree.
All this said, I see a deal getting done before next season. I'm quite sure the parties can come to terms on something fair, and really it's just a matter of hammering out the niceties. But to be frank, in my mind, the sooner the better. Call me inpatient, call me crazy, now just seems like the right time.