Atlanta Falcons: Fans want it, but is it wise to pay Freeman?
While the fans all want running back Devonta Freeman locked up long term, is it wise for the Atlanta Falcons to invest heavily in the position he plays?
Devonta Freeman isn’t at a loss for supporters. The Atlanta Falcons running back has become a fan favorite, and it seems as though his agent isn’t the only one wanting him to see a lot of green in the near future.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitutional released a poll asking fan how much they think their star running back is worth, and discussed two of the options available in the poll.
"“The Falcons negotiations will be complicated by Pittsburgh’s Le’veon Bell’s decision to reject a five-year, $60 million contact offer. He did not report to camp and has not signed his franchise tag of $12.12 million. Currently, McCoy has the highest running back contract, a five-year $40 million deal signed on March 8, 2015.” — Ledbetter"
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While not many of the fans though the rejected Le’veon Bell contract was right, they did feel as though Freeman has earned the same amount of money as LeSean McCoy. The question though remains, is it the right move?
Is it wise?
Sure, Freeman has been electrifying, but it’s not like he plays the most stable position. Three of the names on the poll of Ledbetter’s have underperformed on their deals. Chris Ivory of the Jacksonville Jaguars signed a five-year $32 million deal and will be replaced after one year by the fourth-overall pick Leaonard Fournette.
Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller was good, but not great after inking a $26 million agreement for four seasons. He’s also was banged up a lot in 2016 — which is always a huge concern when giving out a second contract to a running back.
The third guy is another NFC South player, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin. The player formerly known as the “muscle hamster” was given a ridiculous $33.75 million contract for five seasons despite being injury prone and inconsistent. He stunk it up with a career low in yards per rush and Tampa could be moving on soon.
McCoy is the outlier on this list (Bell isn’t included because he has yet to sign a deal). That makes giving running backs another deal a scary prospect, and one that can’t be taken lightly simply because the fans want it.
In addition to the positional concerns, every contract given will take away from somewhere else. A long-term deal for Freeman could hurt the Falcons when players like linebacker Deion Jones, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and edge rusher Vic Beasley, Jr. come up.
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That’s a tough decision to make, especially on a pass-first team that has a talent like Tevin Coleman and his 4.4 yard per carry career average at running back behind Freeman. While fans should want Freeman back, they need to applaud the Falcons for understanding the complexities of such a deal and the time they are taking to make sure it’s the right move.