If Devonta Freeman doesn’t get a good deal, he may sit out the 2020 NFL season.
Devonta Freeman isn’t going to settle for less than what he deserves even if it means sitting out this season.
The former Atlanta Falcons running back turned down a one-year deal worth up to $4 million to play for the Seattle Seahawks. Freeman had spent his entire six-year NFL career with the Falcons, earning two trips to the Pro Bowl and being part of the 2016 NFC Championship team.
Though his production has declined since his former Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan left for the San Francisco 49ers head-coaching job, Freeman is in a good position to sit back and wait for a better offer to manifest. Despite an injury-riddled last few years, Freeman has made enough money in his career to not bite at the offer Carlos Hyde just signed in his free agency.
Would he seriously consider sitting out the 2020 NFL season if he doesn’t get the deal he wants? NFL.com’s Mike Silver tweeted out on Friday evening, “Freeman believes he is worth more than what was being offered and has insisted he is willing to sit out and skip the season if his number isn’t met.”
Silver was the one to report of Freeman’s $4 million offer on a one-year deal with the Seahawks. What is interesting is Silver agrees with NFL insider Adam Caplan’s take on Freeman is probably not going to get a better deal than the one the Seahawks offered.
Is Devonta Freeman prepared to retire from the NFL?
While Freeman and his representation should fight for money in the ballpark of comparable players like his Atlanta replaced Todd Gurley got or what former Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon netted with the Denver Broncos, he must accept that by sitting out 2020, it might mean his NFL career comes to a close. Is he ready for that reality to set in?
In six seasons with the Falcons, Freeman rushed for 3,972 yards on 951 carries for 32 touchdowns. An adept pass-catcher out of the backfield, he hauled in an additional 257 balls for 2,015 receiving yards and 11 more trips to pay dirt. While he was a top-six running back in the league in his best of days, Freeman will be entering his age-28 season in 2020.
Add in the fact Freeman has never rushed for over 1,000 yards without Shanahan as his offensive coordinator and you can understand why the market for him has dried up. He’s had quality offensive coordinators to work with in his four other years in Atlanta with two stints of Dirk Koetter (2014, 2019) and a two-year run under Steve Sarkisian (2017-18). Something’s off.
Freeman doesn’t need to play another down in the NFL, as he’s secured generational wealth for him and his family. Since arriving in Atlanta as a fourth-round pick out of Florida State in 2014, he’s also been smart with his money. So Freeman doesn’t need to chase a bad deal if he’s not up for it.
The issue though is he was too good of a player to not even rush for 4,000 yards in his career. If he got close to 5 or 6,000 career rushing yards, history might end up being kinder to him. As it stands now, he’s maybe a top-five running back in Falcons franchise history and one who benefited almost entirely from the patented Shanahan zone blocking scheme, a 21st century Denver Bronco.
While we should respect Freeman’s pragmatic negotiation process, we must also come to the realization that he may have played his last down in the NFL. Let’s hope it’s not the case, but the second chapter of his NFL career may not ever end up getting written. How teams value him is not up to him anymore and he must accept that.