Every offseason, there are a whole lot of surprise cuts around the NFL. One such name who could end up falling victim to the roster crunch this offseason is Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman.
There was a time when Freeman was one of the better halfbacks in the league. While he was never one of the top three backs in the game, he was a versatile, do-it-all guy who made back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances in 2015 and 2016 and was an integral part of what was a lethal Falcons offense.
Fast forward to 2020, and things have changed quite a bit.
Injuries have severely limited Freeman over the last two seasons, as he played in just two games in 2018 and was hampered by nagging issues in the 14 contests he played this past year.
Freeman rushed for just 656 yards and a couple of touchdowns while averaging a meager 3.6 yards per carry in 2019, an indication that the 27-year-old may be on the downside of his career.
Here is the problem for Atlanta: the Falcons are entering the offseason with very limited cap space, so they may have to part ways with some key players in order to create some flexibility.
Freeman could end up being one of those players.
The Miami native has three years left on his deal at about $21 million, so Atlanta can save quite a bit of money by cutting him loose now.
Freeman is scheduled to earn $6.5 million in base salary in 2020, so releasing him wouldn’t exactly open up the floodgates this offseason, but it would certainly help.
The Falcons have gone 7-9 in each of the last two years, so obviously, changes need to be made. Freeman is not the same running back he was a few years back, and Atlanta clearly has numerous issues up and down the roster that need to be fixed.
Not only that, but the Falcons have to worry about some of their own free agents, such as tight end Austin Hooper, who will surely command a rather hefty price on the open market.
The only way for Atlanta to be able to address any of these issues will be to free up some money, and parting ways with some of its players under contract is really the only route to financial freedom.
It’s a shame it has to come to this, because Freeman has been a major piece for the Falcons for so long, but Atlanta does have Ito Smith and Brian Hill waiting in the wings, both of whom may end up representing better options than Freeman at this point. Plus, the Falcons can always draft a halfback.
No matter what Atlanta does, it is not going to be in a very good position entering free agency, but there is no doubt that the best course of action for the Falcons would be to at least open up some cap space to work with.
Unfortunately, Devonta Freeman is one of the top candidates to get released.