Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman is only under contract through the end of next season. When the Falcons gave Devonta Freeman a five year, $41.25 million contract extension in August, the writing on the wall got a little bolder. It’s hard to envision a scenario where both men are featured in the Falcons backfield after 2018.
That said, general manager Thomas Dimitroff isn’t ruling out a scenario where Coleman, like Freeman, gets a long-term deal. But if we set aside the obvious cap implications and stop focusing on whether it’s smart to invest so much money in a single position group for a moment, what makes us think Coleman really wants to remain in Atlanta?
Coleman’s services in his fourth year as a pro will come cheap. He’s due a base salary of $791k. Even when you factor in his signing bonus, his cap hit is less than $1 million. Coleman garnered a PFF grade of 76.5 (28th among RBs) in 2017 - not too shabby.
He rushed the ball 156 times this season, up from 116 in 2016 and 87 in 2015. He was targeted as a receiver 36 times (27 receptions; 4 drops), down from 37 targets (31 receptions; 2 drops) in 2016. In short, he’s come a long way since his rookie season, a year that saw him fumble 3 times, get limited opportunities, and watch Freeman rush the ball 265 times.
This isn’t about Coleman’s affinity for this team. I’m sure he loves being a Falcon. But at some point he has to think about himself. His future, the future of his family, the opportunity to play an even larger role in an NFL offense. Even if the Falcons offer him a deal consistent with his market value, I won’t blame him if he takes his talents to a different team, and neither should you.