The Falcons have cut Roddy White, ending a distinguished Atlanta career that began all the way back in 2005.
Breaking: per NFL league sources, #Falcons moving on from Roddy White. Franchises All-time leading WR is being cut pic.twitter.com/zDkpWcRmqw— Zach Klein (@ZachKleinWSB) March 2, 2016
The Atlanta Falcons confirmed the release, and had some heart-felt quotes from team owner Arthur Blank.
"Roddy is one of the greatest players to ever put on a Falcons uniform, and even more importantly he is a man of tremendous character that I and my entire family have profound personal affection and respect for," said Falcons Owner and Chairman Arthur Blank. "I have developed a special relationship with him over the years, my children have grown admiring him and our partners and I all share a debt of gratitude for what he has meant to us and our team. Truly, there are no words to adequately express my thanks for all he has meant to me, my family, the Falcons and to this community, both on and off the field. He has been a difference maker in every way and has touched numerous lives here in Atlanta.
"Roddy will forever be part of the Falcons family and I’m confident our fans will always remember and be grateful for the exemplary way he has represented them over the last 11 years," said Blank. "We wish him nothing but the very best and, on a personal level, we look forward to a lifetime relationship with Roddy and his family.
"It is always a challenge to balance how we feel about a particular player with the implications of the salary cap, as well as the clear commitment we have to our fans and stakeholders to assemble a championship-caliber roster each and every year," continued Blank. "After a lot of discussion with Thomas (Dimitroff), Dan (Quinn), and others, the difficult decision we’ve made today was ultimately driven by the need to address some key areas on our roster and ultimately to meet that commitment."
Roddy has apparently taken the news well, according to ESPN's Josina Anderson.
When I asked Roddy White if he has a message for the @AtlantaFalcons fans minutes after getting cut, he text me back simply, "I love them."— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 2, 2016
Maybe you're not surprised by the Falcons cutting ties with the best receiver in their history, but color me surprised, because I really thought Roddy White was going to be on this football team in 2016 given his leadership, potential to help young receivers with Raheem Morris as the new receivers coach(?), and how valuable he's been to the franchise. Alas, it was not to be.
You have to figure the Falcons looked at Roddy's 2015 tape, even with Kyle Shanahan's clear refusal to use him at times, and saw a wide receiver who was no longer worth his cap charge. The Falcons will eat $3.775 million releasing White unless they designate him as a post-June 1 cut, but they'll also realize about $2.4 million in savings and open up the depth chart a bit. That's the practical angle here, and the practical angle is why the Falcons made this move in the first place.
Of course, when you're dealing with a franchise icon like Roddy White, it's not just about what's practical, and what makes me terribly sad is how cold and clinical a cut like this for such a tremendous player. Julio Jones seems likely to smash his records sooner or later, but Roddy leaves behind the finest career a receiver has ever enjoyed in Atlanta, with the franchise mark in receptions, receiving yardage, receiving touchdowns, and bombastic statements designed to provoke the Saints.
He finishes with 808 catches, 10,863 yards, and 63 touchdowns in all, and so many huge grabs over the years late in games, on third downs, and in the playoffs. It's fair to say a young Matt Ryan wouldn't have been able to develop as quickly as he did if he didn't have someone as dynamic as White to throw the ball to, and this franchise's success over the last decade has a lot to do with Roddy. He'll be a deserving Ring of Honor honoree in time, when the hard feelings cool down a little bit—and believe you me, there will be some hard feelings here—and he'll always be one of my favorite Falcons.
It goes without saying that the Falcons are going to go shopping for a wide receiver with White gone and Devin Hester likely headed out as well, because the depth chart currently consists of Julio Jones, Justin Hardy, Nick Williams, and Eric Weems, which just isn't going to cut it. They're rumored to be interested in free agent options like Mohamed Sanu and Travis Benjamin, and there's some intriguing options in this year's draft class, so their chances of landing someone who can exceed White's 2015 production is high. We'll have more in-depth coverage of possible options later today.
White, meanwhile, will join Saints legend Marques Colston on the open market as two veterans shopping for new teams in one of the weakest free agent receiver classes in recent memory, and I wish Roddy well wherever he may land.
This one's going to bum me out for a while, but as many of you will be quick to remind me, this is the bloodless, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately NFL, where moves like these are par for the course. I can only hope the Falcons will be a better football team without Roddy, as odd as it is to type that sentence, and that White gets to play out the twilight years of his career somewhere where he'll find further success.