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Former Falcons returner Andre Roberts signs with Jets

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The former Atlanta return man leaves a void on the roster.

Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Falcons have tried different guys here and there over the years to solve their returning job, and their most recent solution to that problem is now out the door.

ESPN’S Adam Schefter reports WR Andre Roberts has signed a deal with the New York Jets.

Roberts was a oft-maligned member of the 2017 Falcons, even though he was third in the league in yards on kick returns (860 total yards) and had the ninth-highest average of yards per punt return (22.6). He was less-effective on punt returns (201 yards total, 17th in the league, and an avg. of 7.4 yards a return, 18th in the league), but his kickoff numbers shouldn’t be ignored. It didn’t help that the Falcons struggled special teams penalties last season, negating some of Roberts’ successes.

He wasn’t a perfect returner (criticisms of when he decided to take the ball out of the end zone were fair), but few are, and with the Falcons on a tight cap, perhaps this was just a luxury they couldn’t afford in 2018. They do have young, fast receivers like Reggie Davis and Marvin Hall (and 2016 draft pick Devin Fuller, who’s still under contract, if you were curious) around to fill this gap, or perhaps a mid-round draft selection. They’ve been quiet from a free agency standpoint with receivers.

This might not be the biggest departure for the Falcons, but don’t kid yourself. This is a loss for Atlanta, however small losing returners may be, and an area of the team that may take a bit of a step back in 2018 in terms of overall impact. If the special teams unit can play a cleaner game, maybe the potential lack of production will even itself out with fewer penalties.

For now, we wish Roberts future success with the Gang Green, and thank him for his contributions to the team. He was always better than anyone would give him credit for.