2019 Atlanta Falcons Roster Review: Running backs

Rashad Milligan

Last season was a failure in the running back category for the Atlanta Falcons.

Atlanta finished 2019 with 212 fewer rushing yards than it finished with in 2018. Last season’s 1,361 mark was good enough to finish 30th in the league. The Falcons’ rushing yards total has decreased in every season since the 1,928 mark in 2016.

The team’s leading rusher, Devonta Freeman, finished the year ranked 51st among all running backs in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. Freeman had 184 carries for 656 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games. As a receiver, he added 410 yards and four touchdowns on 59 receptions.

The franchise is reportedly considering waiving the lofty contract Freeman signed in 2017, three years after the front office dawned him as an asset to the offense. The five-year, $41.25 million extension was the richest for a running back at the time of the signing. Freeman has missed a total of 18 games since that offseason.

After enjoying a solid rookie season in 2018, Ito Smith regressed in his sophomore campaign with 22 carries for 106 yards in seven games. Smith was placed on injured reserve with a concussion after Week 7.

Rookie Qadree Ollison only accumulated 50 rushing yards in the season but he finished with four touchdowns. That about does it for all of the notable marks made from the corps in 2019.

An essential part to what was once the league’s most loaded offense has deteriorated into one of the NFL’s worst units and a large part of the team’s overall decline. The worst season occurred after the main piece returned from injury that held him out for a majority of the previous year. Not a good sign at all.

It will certainly be interesting what the Falcons do with the running back position this offseason, especially if the franchise gives up on the Freeman era. 

Grade: F