When the Falcons released Devonta Freeman, I figured he wouldn’t be in free agency for all that long. Despite a pretty mediocre year in 2019, it was obvious that Freeman was still a capable back, especially as a receiver and blocker, and figured to have a healthy market as a committee option somewhere.
The last couple of months were pretty confusing, then, given that Freeman barely appeared to get a sniff. When it was reported that the Seahawks had offered him $4 million for 2020 and he wasn’t inclined to take it, the reason became clear enough: Freeman was looking for starting money, and likely a starting role. Now there are reports indicating that if he doesn’t get it, he’ll sit out the 2020 season.
Freeman believes he is worth more than what was being offered and has insisted he is willing to sit out and skip the season if his number isn't met. I agree with @caplannfl that he is unlikely to get a better deal than the one he left on the table. https://t.co/SjzQI5U9sX— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) May 22, 2020
If Freeman is financially secure—and reports indicate that he is—this is quite simply his decision to make and one that’s tough to criticize. Free’s coming off a season in which he was a full-time starter, and aside from his rookie season in 2014, he’s been at worst 1A in the backfield when he’s been healthy. While Seattle was willing to pay out $4 million, he seems to both think that’s not what he’s worth (he’s likely targeting what Todd Gurley got from Atlanta, at minimum) and correctly surmised that once Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny are totally healthy, he’d be buried with the Seahawks.
With the Seahawks signing Carlos Hyde, Freeman now will wait for a starting job and big money to open up elsewhere. Given the way running backs are valued across the league right now, that might be the best deal he gets between now and the 2020 season, but I’ll be rooting for him to find a gig at his pricepoint somewhere else, even so. Unfortunately for Freeman and anyone he may have the chance to supplant, injury is likely to be the leading reason he gets that opportunity in the first place.
Whether he plays or sits out, we’ll wish him well. I’m secretly a little relieved the Falcons don’t have to face off against their longtime starter in Week 1, honestly.