Roddy White's illustrious 11-year career with the Atlanta Falcons came to an end Wednesday when the team that selected him in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft announced it had released him. Falcons owner and chairman Arthur Blank said:
Roddy is one of the greatest players to ever put on a Falcons uniform, and even more importantly he is a man of tremendous character that I and my entire family have profound personal affection and respect for. Roddy will forever be part of the Falcons family and I’m confident our fans will always remember and be grateful for the exemplary way he has represented them over the last 11 years.
The Falcons' official Twitter account later posted a farewell video to the most prolific receiver in franchise history:
White passed along his own message to the fans on Twitter, saying:
Thank you to the Falcons organization and the city of Atlanta for 11 unforgettable seasons. I will truly miss playing for the fans in the Dome on Sunday. I am beyond grateful to all that supported me throughout this journey and I look forward to the opportunity of continuing my career with a new team.
A fan favorite, White told ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure he adored the Atlanta faithful: "I love them. I enjoyed it, and it was fun."
Shortly after the announcement, the NFL relayed footage of White setting the franchise's receiving touchdown record, which now sits at 63, per Pro-Football-Reference.com.
That time Roddy White set the Falcons all-time receiving TD record...— NFL (@NFL) March 2, 2016
With a ridiculous grab in the end zone! https://t.co/12aDYw7jFG
The Falcons had been toeing the will-they-or-won't-they line for some time when it came to White's release, but with the 34-year-old's base salary increasing and his production declining, it's sensible the team would want to sever ties.
|Season||Base Salary||Signing Bonus||Roster Bonus||Cap Hit||Dead Cap|
Ever since he torched opposing secondaries with 92 catches for 1,351 yards during the 2012 season, White has struggled to sustain that level of production amid Julio Jones' ascent to the role of quarterback Matt Ryan's No. 1 target.
And as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jeff Schultz noted, a scheme change under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan forced White into a new and unflattering niche.
"White obviously has slowed with age and wear, but there was no reason for him to be reduced to decoy, blocker and third-down specialist," Schultz wrote. "He went from 125 targets and 80 catches with seven touchdowns in 2014 to 70 targets and 43 catches with one touchdown in 2015."
"Do I wish I could be a more significant part of the offense? Absolutely,” White said, per Schultz. "But that’s not what they wanted me to do and you have to enjoy and embrace the role you have."
But despite the statistical struggles, White appeared to maintain the trust of Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff following a rough 2015 season.
"It’s not always about the talent that may be wavering a little bit at the tell [sic] end of a career," Dimitroff said Feb. 4, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. "It’s about other things as well. It’s the [sic] about the leadership aspect and the culture aspect. A lot goes into the decision."
|Receptions||Rec. Yards||Rec. TD||Receptions/Game||Rec. Yards/Game|
|1st (808)||1st (10,863)||1st (63)||4.7 (5th)||63.5 (4th)|
Evidently, the on-field and financial factors working against White were strong enough to outweigh his positive contributions to the Falcons' locker room.
However, the veteran wideout may not be out of work long.
As Schultz noted, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter served as the Falcons' offensive coordinator from 2012-14, and he could have interest in a reunion with White as he searches for veteran wideouts to bolster Jameis Winston's receiving corps.
When asked where he'd like to play next, White told ESPN.com's Josina Anderson via text message that he'd like to stay in the same region of the country: "I’m a Southern guy," he said. "I love the South."
White may not be as explosive out of his breaks as he once was, but he has a track record that verifies his credentials as a solid possession receiver with steady hands who can work outside or in the slot.
And since his earning potential at age 34 would appear to be capped, White could wind up serving as a solid bargain-bin signing for a shrewd buyer.