Obviously, Roddy White isn’t the wide receiver he used to be.
The 100-reception, 1,000-yard seasons are well behind the 34-year-old. His body isn’t the same, as his troublesome left knee would indicate. And he’s no longer a No. 2 option, at least not in the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive scheme.
That being said, the Falcons’ decision to release their all-time leading receiver certainly won’t be received well. It’s a decision sure to draw a chorus of boos from die-hard fans. It’s a choice certain to leave superstar Julio Jones feeling somewhat dejected watching his close friend and mentor get ushered out the door.
White was beloved in Atlanta for his 11 years with the organization, a tenure that included four Pro Bowl appearances, almost 11,000 receiving yards on 800-plus receptions and a franchise-record 63 touchdowns. He became a media darling for his tendency to speak his mind.
Did the Falcons make the right move? From a statistical standpoint, maybe. White never fit in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, and he never was going to have a cozy relationship with Shanahan after a contentious start. White was the team’s fourth-leading receiver this past season and became an afterthought in quarterback Matt Ryan’s progressions.
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. Owner Arthur Blank expressed his "love" for White. And the chants of "Rod-dy, Rod-dy" echoed loudly through the Georgia Dome when White finally became more involved in the offense late in the season.
And don’t forget the Falcons are transitioning to a new wide receivers coach in Raheem Morris, a college defensive back who has coached defense all his career and worked as the team’s defensive pass-game coordinator last season. Certainly there would have been value in keeping White around to help groom the young receivers and make Morris’ adjustment to coaching an unfamiliar position that much easier.
White, who was set to make $4.25 million this coming season and count more than $6 million against the cap, previously stated he had no desire to take a paycut. A restructuring of his contract, at most, would have saved the Falcons $1,632,500 against the cap according to overthecap.com. But Quinn said White was not approached about restructuring his contract, maybe because he knew White wouldn't budge.
If White catches on with Tampa Bay, reunites with former Falcons offensive coordinator and current Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter and enjoys a productive season alongside Jameis Winston, it might leave the Falcons second-guessing their decision. The same holds true if White joins forces with Marcus Mariota in Tennessee, where former Falcons wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie is now the offensive coordinator and former Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey is now the head coach.
Whatever the case, White will be missed -- by his teammates, by at least some of the coaches, by the owner and by the city.
The chants of "Rod-dy, Rod-dy" might never totally fade away.