Devonta Freeman has been the team’s lead back for much of the last six seasons, helping the Falcons enjoy great ground games in 2015 and 2016, a pretty good in 2017, and whatever Dirk Koetter managed to cook up last season. Unfortunately, his time in Atlanta is coming to an end.
After reports came out this morning saying Desmond Trufant would be cut soon, Freeman is apparently the next man on the chopping block. This writing seemed to be on the wall all offseason after Freeman had a largely forgettable year in Koetter’s scheme—something I blame way more on Koetter than Freeman, by the way—and when the Falcons found themselves crunched for cap space.
The #Falcons are releasing RB Devonta Freeman, source says, saving more than $3M against the salary cap and moving on from their former starter.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2020
Freeman finishes his 6 seasons with the 6th-most rushing yards, 4th-most rushing touchdowns, and 24th-most receiving yards in team history, a testament to his versatility. Even in 2019, when he couldn’t find much daylight to run and looked a little less explosive than he used to, he was still a supremely useful receiver out of the backfield. Unfortunately, injury and offensive coordinator changes conspired to steal away part of 2017, most of 2018, and the less we say about 2019 the better.
Freeman was the only feature-caliber, proven back on this roster, which means the Falcons are liking dipping into the position again in the draft. Ito Smith still has a ton of promise if healthy, Brian Hill could return on the cheap and Qadree Ollison should at least carve out a decent little role for himself, but don’t be stunned at all if there’s a new back in the 3rd or 4th round. I fully expect it.
The Falcons can expect to save a little more than $3 million from this move, which isn’t a ton but will help as they try to re-tool the defense on the fly through free agency. I’ll genuinely miss both Trufant and Freeman, who gave us some great years, and this offseason continues to be a bummer that I hope gives way to better days ahead.