Atlanta Falcons: It’s time to move on from Roddy White
Unfortunately, the time has come for the Atlanta Falcons to move on from Roddy White.
Roddy White will go down as one of the all-time greats in Atlanta Falcons history. He’s been an incredible servant to the franchise and the city, and is beloved by Falcons fans. But the time has come for the Falcons to move on.
Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff was noncommittal when asked about White’s future. Per D. Orlando Ledbetter of AJC.com:
"“Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has not made a decision on releasing or retaining wide receiver Roddy White, the franchise’s all-time leading receiver who had a dramatic statistical drop off last season.”"
At 34-years-old, White isn’t the player he once was. That much was obvious when watching him in 2015. His 506 yards was the exact number he posted in 2006, and is his worst total since that season. Three seasons have now passed since White last entered the 1,000-yard club.
The Falcons must now move towards youth and develop young talent.
We all know how good Julio Jones is, and he will be the team’s star for a number of years. But it’s the players currently sat behind Jones on the depth chart, as well as any new faces selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, that need to be the focus this offseason.
One of those guys is Justin Hardy, selected in the fourth round of last year’s draft. Entering his second season, the Falcons will want to utilize him in the slot. His role is going to grow next season, and he has the potential to become a key cog on offense.
If White departs, there will be a vacancy at No. 2. You could argue there already is. The Falcons appear to believe so. Ledbetter went onto write:
"“The Falcons are scouting the wide receiver class for this draft heavily. They interviewed Ohio State wide receiver Braxton Miller at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.”"
There are a number of options the Falcons could look at in the 2016 NFL Draft. One name is Laquon Treadwell, who could be the best boundary receiver in the class. Treadwell has drawn comparisons to the Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins, a player who wins consistently with his size and ball skills as opposed to relying on speed. That sounds like a player who could make a difference for Atlanta.
Or maybe the Falcons turn to a player also compared to Treadwell, Alshon Jeffery. This is an unlikelier route. First off we don’t know whether Jeffery, who is a pending unrestricted free agent, will re-sign with the Bears before free agency begins. If he does, the fee will be large, and the Falcons may opt to find their man in the draft.
Next: Falcons free agency profile: Alshon Jeffery
Unfortunately, White isn’t the player he once was. He will turn 35 in the 2016 season, and that’s not a recipe for success in the NFL. If the Falcons are relying on their 35-year-old wide receiver in a late-season playoff push, similar problems will arise to what we witnessed in 2015.
Roddy White is an Atlanta Falcons all-time great and deservedly has his place in history. But with a heavy heart, it’s time to move on.