Report: Former Falcons RB Devonta Freeman willing to sit out 2020 season
Coronavirus has left the 2020 NFL season somewhat in limbo, but former Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman may not play this fall no matter what. According to NFL Insider Michael Silver, Freeman is willing to sit out this season if he doesn't receive a contract offer to his liking.
This past week, Freeman reportedly declined a one-year, $4 million with incentives contract from the Seattle Seahawks.
"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," wrote Silver. "Freeman has invested his money well and saved much of the income he's earned thus far. Financially, he does not have to play. His current mentality is that he won't play if he doesn't get an offer that reflects what he believe his value is."
If Silver's report is true, and Freeman is well-off financially, then more power to him. It really is up to him what amount of money he will and won't play for this season. But it also sounds as though Freeman just doesn't want to play football all that badly.
It's very likely Caplan and Silver are correct that Freeman just turned down the best offer he was going to receive. If he thinks skipping the season will provide him more leverage, then he should look at how that worked for fellow running back Le'Veon Bell.
There's still some debate over whether the contract offer Bell received from the Pittsburgh Steelers or New York Jets during the 2018-19 offseasons was better. With $27 million, the Jets offered far more guaranteed money. The Steelers deal only included $10 million guaranteed, but their contract was referred to as a "rolling guarantee," and by the end of year two, Bell would have made $33 million. Assuming the Steelers wouldn't have released him this offseason, he'd be entering his third season of the contract in 2020.
Instead, Bell is entering his second season with the Jets and has yet to make $33 million in the Big Apple.
The situations for Freeman and Bell aren't exactly the same. Freeman is a year older than Bell was in 2019 when he signed with the Jets, and Freeman has declined considerably since receiving his big payday three years ago. But Bell's strategy of sitting out a year to improve his leverage in contract negotiations didn't work. If that's Freeman's ultimate goal, it's not a good strategy for him either.
Again, if his endgame is simply playing football isn't worth it to him unless it's for a certain amount of money, then good for him for being in a situation financially to be able to make that choice. But following that plan, Freeman appears headed for long unemployment.