Roddy White still has something left, Falcons may regret this move

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 09: Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons looks on during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on November 9, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Former Falcons wide receiver Roddy White looks on during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium, which might be his next home. (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)

(Updated: 6:11 p.m.)

When I spoke last week to Roddy White, he opened up about a number of subjects, including his role in the offense, his relationship with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and his future in Atlanta.

“It would be a tragedy if I had to leave,” he said at one point.

And then: “I’d bet every dollar I had that I’m going to be a Falcon.”

The first comment was sincere. The second was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, because White knew his exit from Atlanta was a realistic possibility, if not the betting favorite. That was confirmed Wednesday when the Falcons released him.

So there it is: The greatest wide receiver in franchise history could bet on himself but he could not bet on the Falcons’ organization – something we all realized last season.

White was on a plane to Belize when the Falcons made the decision. Coach Dan Quinn left him a voicemail, then the two subsequently communicated by text message. Surely, there could have been a better way for a franchise and one of its centerpiece athletes to end an 11-year relationship.

“Roddy is one of the best competitors and warriors I have ever been around,” Quinn said. “He was one of the first players I reached out to when I was hired here, and I want to thank him for his professionalism and leadership.”

Yeah. Now move along.

Quinn arrived as a young assistant coach in San Francisco following the 2000 season, just in time to see the 49ers say goodbye to Jerry Rice. So he knows how this goes.

“That kept going through my mind. This is a difficult job sometimes,” he said.

The Falcons tried to break this news as nicely as possible. Atop their official news release were the words: “THANK YOU, RODDY.”

It sounded better than, “We don’t want you anymore.”

Or, “You make too much money.”

Or, “Please don’t humiliate us when you sign with Tampa Bay and play for Dirk Koetter and catch touchdown passes from Jameis Winston in games that could decide a playoff berth. Hello? Roddy? Are you still on the phone?”

Quinn said on a conference call he believes that White can still play in the NFL. He would not be surprised if he ended up with an NFC South Division rival, specifically Tampa Bay. (Now, that’s something worth putting money on.)

“Any time you go through the process, you have to expect that, knowing somebody’s history with a certain player,” he said, referencing Koetter’s previous tenure as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Roddy ends up on another club just south on I-75. If that happens, it happens not just with our club but other clubs.”

White told me last week that he and his agent had been preparing for the possibility of free agency.

The Buccaneers are the favorites to land White but several other teams will pursue him. Why? Because he can still play. Because he’s leader. Because he is as tough a competitor as I’ve ever been around in sports.

I understand the NFL is business. I worked in San Francisco when Bill Walsh was preparing Steve Young to take over for Joe Montana, which didn’t go over real well with Montana … or his fans.

But this could have and should have been avoided. White can still be a productive player, notwithstanding how he was inexplicably cut out of Shanahan’s game plans next season. (The scheme made Leonard Hankerson a higher option in the offense before White. That worked out well. Or not.)

Quinn maintained that White “was not under-utilized” last season, as many others believe. But what would you expect him to say? “My offensive coordinator was wrong and we should’ve called Roddy’s number more”?

This will create space in the salary cap. (White was due base salaries of $2.75 million and $3 million the next two seasons, with cap hits of more than $6 million each season. There will be a dead-money penalty.). The Falcons will tell you they can use to fill other positions of needs: center, defensive end, linebacker, safety … wide receiver. But it’s difficult to replace a player like White on the field or in the locker room.

White was baffled last week as to why the Falcons were letting him twist in the wind for so long. He also praised former Falcons center Todd McClure and said the Falcons never should have forced him into retirement, which White (and others) believe contributed to Matt Ryan’s subsequent slide.

McClure read the column and not surprisingly agreed with White’s words. He then typed this message on Twitter: “This is where an organization should at least communicate with a man that has poured his heart into this franchise.”

The Falcons finally communicated their decision Wednesday. Given how last season evolved and the delay in affirming White’s return for 2016, nobody should be surprised by this.

But the Falcons have a long way to go to prove this was the right decision.

EARLIER: Read exclusive interview with Roddy White from last week here

EARLIER: Read why Falcons should stay clear of Mario Williams here

EARLIER: Read my thoughts on Matt Ryan and his limited time to prove his worth

Recent ramblings from the Digital Jukebox

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76 comments
rgbutterfly
rgbutterfly

The Falcons had problems the whole season.  The offense was in trouble with the offensive players not on the same page as Shanahan.  But no one but Roddy was willing to speak up, not Julio, not Matt Ryan.  So Roddy and Shanahan had a tumulous relationship the complete season.  When asked all players stated that they were doing just what they were told to do.  So when M. Ryan came out and stated that he supported Shanahan, Roddy was thrown under the bus by Ryan.  Roddy knew then he would be the one to leave, not Shanahan.  So it is not a surprise Roddy was released.  Roddy was the lone player to disagree with Shanahan.  When A. Blank met with Ryan after the season, he got the information about who was to leave-Roddy or Shanahan.  Ryan has the final say.  I believe that the Falcons will fail next season due to this and the fact they do not have a leader on offense.  Ryan is a company man, a follower regardless of his not understanding Shanahan's offense. The losses were due to no one understanding the offense, but no one willing to express their displeasure, except Roddy.  This past season was not harmonious for the team.  It was full of shoutings, disagreements, and confusion with many players left in the middle of this chaos.

Ackshun
Ackshun

These guys deserve to lose...

GaLatino
GaLatino

@tonedabarber14 @JeffSchultzAJC And just like Smith, will be motivated to show just how dirty and wrong this move was.  I still want us to win the game, but I'll be rooting for Roddy to muscle our pathetic DB's for multiple TD's twice next year; whether that be Tampa Bay or Carolina.

Edgar
Edgar

Ok, I've had my angry moment. I agree Jeff that Roddy has time in his career to spend on the field of play in the NFL. Great. Where does it take him. Does he get to leave his brain to the the study of CTE? Maybe it's time to walk away and become the "Falcon For Life" under his his terms and his on way. Jeff, that would make Roddy more of a HOF Falcon than Prime Time ever thought about being.

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

Jeff Van Note should still be the Falcons center if we are basing keeping players on their heart, character, locker room presence, and how much they have done for the franchise in the PAST.

AtlantaSportsVictory
AtlantaSportsVictory

Only two receivers in the league had less Yards After Catch than Roddy last year. Wake up and read the numbers, Schultz. 

RobertConnor13
RobertConnor13

@JeffSchultzAJC Nope. When's the last time Roddy made a catch, broke a tackle and made a big gain out of it? Catch and fall is all he does

WardinConyers
WardinConyers

If Roddy goes to Tampa Bay, I may consider becoming a fan of theirs, except I don't care for the crab-crooking Jameis' mouth.

kumon
kumon

Falcons fans want a winner, it's time to move on. Roddy played well at his peak,but that's over now.

MJCACE
MJCACE

@JeffSchultzAJC he had a good run, but it's time to move on. 5 sec 40 doesn't cut it in the league

rutherfordtony5
rutherfordtony5

@JeffSchultzAJC Meanwhile Hester still on team and more expensive? Let go Durant and keep Brooks Reed???? Reed contributed nothing

rutherfordtony5
rutherfordtony5

@JeffSchultzAJC doesn't save much $$. They cut a leader. He made big 3rd down catches later in yr and was picking up O. Not jacked about it

Peachs
Peachs

Always felt Shanahan, was purposely setting White up for failure.  The players on the field know, and if this is the case, they won't play for Shanahan, so I hope I am wrong. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

As Bob Hope used to sing............"Thanks for the memories" Roddy!....retire 84!

WhopperDawg
WhopperDawg

Man, what a deal. Ultimately, it comes down to dollars and cents.

I would have kept him, he should have retired a Falcons. He deserved better. And to let him twist and then not even give a phone call to tell him???????????????????????????????????????? I don't know if there was a salary clause or rule that had a timeline on it they had to adhere to. But even if there was, at a minimum call the man. He earned it much more than Quinn and Dimitroff.

No class Quinn, no class.  I knew Dimitroff has no class and now Quinn appears to not have any either. Maybe they deserve each other. The whole front office mess and the disaster at OC and this makes me think this franchise is just adrift. I saw Dimitroff on NFL Insiders and he was just a professional politician. He should be running for President with the rest of those buffoons, he would fit right in.

tmc
tmc

This team has to many holes to be cutting a anyone who can play. I realize Roddy makes a few bucks, but the salary cap went up $12 million for this season. A couple extra million for Roddy shouldn't affect the team that much with an almost $4 million dollar dead money cap hit. Next year was the year to cut Roddy, not this year. The Falcons better sign some good players in free agency if they are going to cut the likes of Roddy, Soliah, Durant... to save to bucks. My bet is they will sign some players for much bigger money than they are worth... It's the M.O. of the organization.

thejasoncole
thejasoncole

@JeffSchultzAJC Did you see Roddy play last year? He may be a leader but he's lost a step and is at best a 3 or 4 WR.

blakleyatl
blakleyatl

@JeffSchultzAJC it's better to cut ties a year too early than a year too late. He didn't do much last season

GMAB
GMAB

Poor decision. Poor Falcons.

pride
pride

He wheels Vick off the field as his chauffeur but leaves Roddy blowin' in the wind.  

mar1049
mar1049

@pride You know you really need to get off Vick. You sound like one of those flag wavers at Stone Mountain. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

The way it is in the working world of today.........you're only as good as your last day.

Edgar
Edgar

Look, I couldn't believe it when Roddy told this story years ago that Bobby Petrino turned his career around. I watched him burn so many DBs. Anyway, I can't understand this move to release Roddy White. This is a draft pick we made straight up. Didn't have to give up another pick or two picks or what ever. He's been here 10 years. He can be here another 10 years. This is like trading Bret Favre. Firing Dan Reeves. Ok, in the morning they can release Matt Ryan, acquire Johnathon Football and R G I I I and let the competition begin during training camp.

CheesesteakBob
CheesesteakBob

Congrats Arthur, you are the owner of one classless organization.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Schultzy...........just when I think there is no hope for you.........you go and do something like this!!!.....ATTABOY!!!!!


there is no doubt Roddy was one of my all time favorites. But he has not been a factor for over 2 years, Refused to take a pay cut because he was with his production way over paid. So he got to go. Now as far as the falcons regretting letting him go? That is really funny because we can lose without him.



ceb795
ceb795

Cut Roddy and keep Bierman, those six GM's are earning their spots on this team.

tigerflyboy78
tigerflyboy78

@DOrlandoAJC and I tend to agree with him, the money they are gaining does not replace the engird and leadership Roddy brings sad day