Roddy White: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent WR

Scott PolacekFeatured Columnist

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) warms up before the first of an NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

The Atlanta Falcons announced they released wide receiver Roddy White on Wednesday after 11 seasons with the team. There is certain to be plenty of interest around the league in an available pass-catcher with 10,863 receiving yards and 63 touchdown catches on his resume.   

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White Expected to Draw Multiple Suitors

Wednesday, March 2

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network and noted connections for three teams that could potentially have interest in White: the Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders.

Former Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey is now the head coach in Tennessee, and former Falcons wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie is the offensive coordinator. Former Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is Tampa Bay's head coach, and Oakland offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was the quarterbacks coach in Atlanta from 2006-10 and served as an assistant head coach in 2010.

Interestingly, White texted ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he would like to remain in the South with his next move, “I’m a Southern guy. I love the South.”

Whichever team lands White will add a four-time Pro Bowler and a member of the 2010 first-team All-Pro to its roster. However, he is 34 years old and saw a drop-off in his production in 2015 as Julio Jones continued his ascent to being one of the best receivers in the entire league and quarterback Matt Ryan’s unquestionable top target:

Roddy White's Career Numbers

Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution thinks the lackluster 2015 by White’s elevated standards was also partially because of the overall offensive scheme under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan: “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. He went from 125 targets and 80 catches with seven touchdowns in 2014 to 70 targets and 43 catches with one touchdown in 2015.”

White is not the dynamic playmaker he was in his prime, but it is hard to argue with his overall track record. He will also bring veteran leadership to his eventual new team and the versatility to line up on the outside or on the inside in a slot role.

White can also serve as a red-zone target considering his 63 touchdown catches are the most in Atlanta Falcons history.

Vaughn McClure of lauded White’s intangibles outside of just his production:

But White’s value extends beyond on-field production. There’s something to be said about intangibles when you’re talking about a team still trying to find its footing. Despite White voicing his displeasure about being primarily a blocker in the offense last season, head coach Dan Quinn on several occasions said he valued the leadership White brought to the team.

The three teams Rapoport mentioned make sense, especially since the coaches likely all have experience with White’s leadership.

What’s more, that type of leadership would be critical if White went to Tampa Bay or Tennessee. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were the top two picks in last year’s draft, respectively, and could use a pass-catcher like White to help them further develop into franchise quarterbacks. White could be a mentor off the field and a physical and productive target on it.

White could also play a similar role in Oakland by pairing with youngsters Amari Cooper (21 years old) and Derek Carr (24 years old) to develop a strong aerial attack.

While White took a backseat in Atlanta’s offense last season, he is a dangerous weapon with an impressive resume. He is only a few seasons removed from a stretch of six consecutive years with at least 1,100 receiving yards and provides plenty of value outside of his ability to rack up numbers.

A team likely won’t wait long to make him an offer once free agency starts on March 9.