Thomas Dimitroff finally showed Desmond Trufant the money, and suggested he wants to get a deal done with running back Devonta Freeman. I had generally expected the deal to happen at some point based on the general manager’s optimism, but the team has been sniffing around other running backs in the draft. They also met with a back in free agency.
Tough to guess the direction, but there are some guesses on Twitter.
Maybe we shouldn’t be so optimistic? It would be a lot cheaper to draft another running back in day two than to keep Freeman until 2022. There are a lot of factors to consider. As much as everyone loves Devonta Freeman, the NFL is still a business.
Limited cap space
The Falcons have no cap space. According to Over the Cap, they have enough for the rookie pool and maybe a cup of coffee. And not that expensive Starbucks stuff. I’m talking Waffle House coffee. Freeman’s cap hit is already very small, so there’s not a good way to lower that number and extend the hit into later years. The team would need to sign Matt Ryan to an extension to bring down his $24 million cap hit, or cut Brooks Reed to free up a few million. Or hop into a time machine and not sign Mohamed Sanu, who is taking up over $7 million in cap space this year. I don’t see much else they could do that wouldn’t create bigger problems down the line.
Freeman will be expensive
The running back market is all over the place. Players can hit big deals, like Doug Martin, or they can be begging for even reasonable money after monster seasons, like LeGarrette Blount. Looking at recent deals of polished backs coming from committees, Freeman should sign something north of Lamar Miller’s 4-year, $26 million deal with $14 million guaranteed. Freeman’s stats are comparable but easily superior. He could easily (and rightly) be looking for a 4-year, $30 million deal with nearly $20 million guaranteed.
Too many players need deals
The team has a lot of worthy players up for new deals. They are tougher to replace than a committee running back. New addition Dontari Poe, if he plays well, should get consideration for a new deal. Dynamic wide receiver Taylor Gabriel should most definitely receive an extension. Jake Matthews should have his fifth-year option exercised soon, but the team may want an extension to cut down on that cap hit. Adrian Clayborn, Ra’Shede Hageman (bye), and Courtney Upshaw are also in that mix. They may need to consider jumping ahead of the rising market and consider giving Grady Jarrett and a few others a new deal next offseason.
Goodbye, Tevin Coleman
If the team extends Freeman, then Coleman is as good as gone in two more seasons. The Falcons can’t pay Freeman big money and have him split carries with Coleman. If you were wondering why the Falcons wouldn’t pay Patrick DiMarco his market price, it’s because he was only in on a quarter of the offensive snaps. It’s tough to pay a player impact money when they barely play, unless if that player is Matt Schaub, of course. There is also absolutely no way the team can keep both Coleman and Freeman. Picking up Freeman guarantees that Coleman is minimalized and gone.
Durability and effectiveness concerns
We all remember the crippling end to the 2015 season (that sounds familiar), and Freeman went from the league’s most impressive back to a late-career Michael Turner. It is only one year to go off of, but he looked like the sort of guy who can’t carry the full load. I’d be less worried if Freeman wasn’t 5-foot-9 and 209-pounds, which is small for a runner.
But damn do I love Freeman
I think every Falcons fan loves Freeman. He’s a playmaker in every sense of the word and I hope he can remain with the team for life. I have no idea how the team would do it, but I’d be worried about messing with a major part of the offense. Matt Ryan turns 32 next month, so whether we want to admit it or not, this team has a window and we can’t Steven Jackson this up.
We have talked amongst the writers and plenty of fans, but really can’t figure out the best option here. Should Atlanta just pay Freeman? They could always hit him with the franchise tag next offseason and keep him in Atlanta for the next two seasons. Or the team could focus on the offensive line and look for good, cheap scheme fits in this year’s draft.
What do you think the team should do with Freeman?
What should the Atlanta Falcons do with running back Devonta Freeman?
This poll is closed
Pay the man! Freeman has earned a new deal.
Let him play out this year, and give the job to Coleman if he steps up.
Tag him next year then move on.
Churn through running backs and keep adding replacements through the draft.