The NFL can be a tough place for aging veterans. Only two years ago, Roddy White and Julio Jones had formed one of the most formidable wideout duos in the NFL. Two years later, the Falcons cut their ties with the 34-year old 11-year NFL veteran and their all-time receiving leader.
A tough decision by head coach Dan Quinn from an organizational standpoint, but let’s be honest: From a production standpoint it was the logical step.
Roddy White’s 2015 season was more than bad, he caught only 43 passes for 506 yards and 1 (!) measly TD and he was scheduled to make $4.25 million dollars in’16.
Not that much money for a receiver, I know. Especially if you consider that the year prior he still caught 80 passes for 921 yards and 7TDs, but again, stats don’t tell the whole story.
Over the course of the season, Roddy White went from the No2 receiver to barely a 4th option for Matt Ryan.
Whenever Julio Jones wasn’t open, Matt Ryan had to look for Leonard Hankerson as his second option, not Roddy. While he played in all 16 games, he wa far from a game changer. He didn’t seem to be a fit in new OC Kyle Shanahans new offense and you might argue that this was the real reason his production fell.
But then again, a 34-year old with a down year usually suggests that it’s age-related. And it’s not like we haven’t seen this happen before and this is why White’s case is so interesting.
Last season both Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson, two receiver legends were released by the Colts and Texans, and went on to play for another team. Ironically Johnson went to the Colts to fill Wayne’s place as the veteran in a young receiving core, while Wayne tried the same in New England.
Needless to say, none of these two were signed to be playmakers, those times were long behind them. They were mainly signed for their “Veteran leadership”, which should tell you all you need to know about why they retired.
A veteran leader is not supposed to make plays, well, maybe move the chains on a 3&4 occassionally. They are here to help the young receivers and teach them how to be a good receiver. Basically a player-WR coach. Not necessarily what Johnson and Wayne wanted. And this seems to be the direction where White is headed at the moment:
No one in the right mind would sign him to be a No1 receiver, or a No2. At best someone could put him in the slot. If he signs with a new team, it’ll be a low-cost, short-term deal, where he is expected to be a tutor to a young receiving core.
The Bucs could be such a team, as they seem to be linked with White. Helping a young Mike Evans (who didn’t have the best sophomore year) and with Austin Seferian-Jenkins and V-Jax in the fold, Tampa could seem like a good fit. Or he could go to Oakland to help Amari Cooper…
Or he does what most veterans, who never won the Big Game, do: Sign with a contender to get one last shot at the Super Bowl. This seems like the best idea for White, because a Super Bowl ring would definitely help cement his legacy.
So, going to the Pats would make sense: The Patriots always seem to be thin at the receiver position and released Brandon LaFell and TE Scott Chandler this week, which leaves them with Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson and whoever they picked off the street last season. White could fill the Reggie Wayne role here, while also having a chance at loads of playing time while playing with the best QB in football.
Or he seeks the fountain of youth, which is located in Glendale, AZ. Even though that is probably the least possible way. The Cards are stacked at the receiver position with Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and the two Browns. Unless White suddenly turns into a servicable Tight End, there’s no way he will sign with Arizona.
But there might be another team that makes sense: The Bengals.
The Bengals are set to lose either Marvin Jones and/or Mohamed Sanu to free agency this offseason, leaving them with a void at WR. If they lose one or both, White would make sense here to replace Sanu, who (according to reports) is most certainly not gonna be retained.
No matter what he is going to do, it will most certainly be his last run in the NFL. That’s the unfortunate truth for Receivers over 30 in todays NFL….