Wide receiver Roddy White has played with only the Atlanta Falcons since the team drafted him in 2005. After Atlanta released him Wednesday, that's set to change in 2016, and his agent, Jonathan Feinsod, blamed offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan on Sunday.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shared Feinsod’s comments:
There is one reason Roddy is no longer with the Falcons and it is Kyle Shanahan.
Kyle forced the Falcons to choose between him or Roddy. This was not Roddy’s choice. Over the last 11 years Roddy has played for four different head coaches. Four different offensive coordinators. Three different wide receiver coaches and one incredible owner. Their opinions of Roddy and his opinion of them would all be consistently positive. Roddy has had and continues to have an incredible professional and personal relationship with them all.
However, head coach Dan Quinn was quick to say that Feinsod’s perception of what happened was not accurate, per Ledbetter: “I did not consult or confer with any of the assistant coaches. From my long history as an assistant coach, I know often times you want to have everybody forever. I did not confer with Kyle in any way regarding this decision.”
Whether Shanahan made the ultimatum or not, the Falcons moved on from White Wednesday despite the fact his 808 catches, 10,863 receiving yards and 63 touchdown catches are all franchise records.
However, the pass-catcher is 34 years old and suffered a drop-off in production throughout the 2015 campaign. He was Atlanta’s fourth-leading receiver and took a backseat to the uber-talented Julio Jones in the aerial attack. It was a far cry from his 2014 campaign before Shanahan came aboard, as well as those seasons when White was clearly in his prime:
With Jones established as quarterback Matt Ryan’s No. 1 option and the aging White not nearly as much of a factor in the offense as he was in the past, Atlanta elected to cut ties with the receiver. There were also salary considerations that likely played a role in the decision:
|Season||Base Salary||Signing Bonus||Roster Bonus||Cap Hit||Dead Cap|
That is frankly plenty of money to pay someone the offensive coordinator didn't utilize much, even if that someone has been as productive as White was throughout the majority of his time in Atlanta.
Still, Feinsod wasn’t the only one from White’s camp who believed Shanahan was largely to blame for the breakup between the team and star receiver. White himself said he and the offensive coordinator did not see eye-to-eye, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com:
What [Shanahan] expected from me and what I expected from him was totally different. I expected to play a bigger role in the offense, and that's what I wanted to do. But he didn't have that in his desires. He had other people that he wanted to play my role, so he wanted me to be out of the [offense] ... I can't change his way of thinking or anything like that. I can just do what I did, which was just handle my business and get myself prepared for this moment.
White also pointed to moments when he thought Shanahan “mismanaged things” when the Falcons had the opportunity to win games and said he “talked to him just about every day about everything” when asked if he communicated his frustrations with the offensive coordinator, per McClure.
The Falcons did start 5-0 but missed the playoffs and finished 8-8 on the campaign. Perhaps Shanahan did mismanage moments, especially since the Falcons were a dismal 21st in the league in points per game after finishing 12th in the same category in 2014 under then-offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution even went as far to say “Shanahan blew it last season” and added “there was no reason for him to be reduced to decoy, blocker and third-down specialist” when talking about White’s role in 2015.
Age or not, White is statistically the best receiver in Falcons history and turned in a formidable season in 2014 under different offensive coaching. He is also a four-time Pro Bowler and earned first-team All-Pro recognition in 2010 as one of the best receivers in the league.
While the frustration is still evident from White and his agent given their recent comments, the receiver can now only look forward to his next career stop.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network and NFL.com recently reported the Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders were all potential landing spots for the receiver, which would make sense considering White’s connections to some of the coaches there.
Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey was one of his former offensive coordinators, Koetter accepted the Tampa Bay head coaching position this offseason and Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was a quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach in Atlanta for a time during White’s tenure.
Feinsod made sure to point out all of White’s former coaches had a “consistently positive” opinion of White, so looking to their new teams as potential landing spots is a natural next step.
White can still serve as a versatile playmaker who can outmuscle defenders in the end zone as a red-zone target (as those touchdown totals prove) and provide occasional bursts of speed to beat cornerbacks in one-on-one situations. Perhaps most importantly at this stage of White's career, whichever team lands him will get a veteran leader who has plenty of experience in the NFL and a sparkling track record.
He can be a mentor to young playmakers and still be a productive member of his new offense considering he is a single season removed from a 921-yard and seven-touchdown performance in 2014.
To hear Feinsod tell it, his old coaches who could look to sign him this offseason already know all that.