Arthur Blank speaks on the Devonta Freeman situation
Devonta Freeman might need to start packing his bags.
Amid rumors the running back could be a cap casualty this offseason, Falcons owner Arthur Blank didn’t do much to dispel the notions Friday.
"Well, I love him, too, but this has nothing to do with love," Blank said of Freeman, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN. It has to do with building a roster. The salary cap is not unlimited. It seems like it's unlimited, but it's not. And the investments we have made — which have been very, very substantial with a wide variety of players on both sides of the ball — have been significant. So personnel, and coach, and [team president] Rich McKay, they'll be looking at everything and making sure we're making investments in the right areas based on what the roster has to look like going forward."
Freeman posted 656 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 14 games — all starts — last season. He averaged a career-low 3.6 yards per carry for a Falcons rushing attack that ranked 30th in the NFL. While it's difficult to blame all of the rushing woes on the running back, Freeman also graded outside the top-50 on Pro Football Focus' running back rankings.
He is owed $9.5 million in 2020, but cutting him would only save Atlanta $3.5 million. The soon-to-be 28-year-old has three years left on his contract and would weigh $6 million in 2020 dead money if waived.
Overall, the organization currently owns about $5 million in cap space.
With Brian Hill (restricted free agent), Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison, the Falcons hold some backfield depth. Hill was the team’s second-leading rusher last season, with 323 yards.
Blank also complimented the stable of backups Atlanta has accrued.
“How it’s going to affect one individual player, I have no idea,” Blank said. Sure, I love what [Freeman] brings to the team. I also know we’ve drafted well and we’ve got some really good backups now today. We’ll see how all that works out."
It remains to be seen what Atlanta decides to do in regards to Freeman, and we should find out sooner rather than later.