Atlanta Falcons: Devonta Freeman Wants to be “Elite Paid”
Devonta Freeman’s contract negotiations continue to play out in public
Another day, another new headline in the Falcons’ front office-Devonta Freeman contract saga.
On Wednesday, Freeman took to the podium to address reporters’ questions on the third day of media availibility for the Atlanta Falcons. His fluid contract situation was a prime topic, of course, and Freeman reinforced his agent Kristin Campbell’s pre-Super Bowl comments, making it clear that he’s angling for a mega-payday.
Devonta’s comment, per ESPN’s Josina Anderson:
"“I want to be the best. I want to be elite paid. Whatever that is, that’s where I want to be — straight up.”"
This could be viewed as an unwelcome remark from the Pro Bowl running back, who had recently committed to focusing on football and letting contract negotiations continue in the background.
Now, Devonta is certainly deserving of a raise that reflects his on-field production. He’s arguably been one of Atlanta’s best players over the past two seasons, beloved by the fan base, and embodies the Falcons’ Brotherhood motif. I detailed that, here.
What the Falcons were hoping to avoid, however, is the tit-for-tat, public back-and-forth that continues to train a spotlight directly over Freeman’s contract negotiations. That comment on Wednesday, however off-handed, just dumps more gasoline on the “will-they or won’t-they” extension narrative that’s been headline fodder since January.
The Freeman camp has been adamant about their desire to avoid distraction. Direct statements about an expected level of pay don’t exactly reflect it.
This is not to sound fatalistic; for the record, I still believe that Devonta is locked up sooner than later. At what level of “elite pay” though, is anyone’s guess.
Le’Veon Bell’s current franchise tag leads the league at $12.1 million, followed by Jonathan Stewart and LeSean McCoy at $8 million per-year. Atlanta would be foolhardy to even come close to Bell’s salary, but a number between $6-8 million is not unrealistic. Whether that constitutes an “elite payday” is ultimately up to Freeman and his agent.
Falcons fans are steadfast in their want for Devonta Freeman in Atlanta’s long-term plans; but in a pass-first league, with a team that features another fully capable back in Tevin Coleman, the front office would be prudent not to overpay for Freeman’s services.
Related Story: Devonta Freeman Wants to Leave a Legacy
Until there’s a break in the dam, Freeman’s contract negotiations will continue to be an evolving storyline throughout the summer. Let’s hope it remains in the background going forward.