Would be wise to extend White before camp

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
8:00
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The NFL deadline for signing a franchise player to a long-term extension is Tuesday, and New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham already cashed in.

For the Atlanta Falcons, such is not applicable, considering no one on the team received the franchise tag. But there is a player who should be tagged with an extension based on his value to the franchise.

No, we’re not talking about Julio Jones right now. Jones will be paid handsomely. There is no doubt about that, considering the Falcons expect their top receiver to be back to his dynamic self following foot surgery. And the team obviously wants the 25-year-old Jones to be a Falcon for life.

[+] EnlargeRoddy White
AP Photo/Reinhold MatayRoddy White is in line to receive a contract extension from the Atlanta Falcons.
But this is a reference to the team’s other top pass-catcher: Roddy White. The 32-year-old veteran is entering the last year of his contract and he expected to receive an extension at some point after this year's draft.

It hasn't happened yet.

Getting White signed before training camp starts July 25 probably would be a smart move. The last thing the team needs coming off a 4-12 season is one of its top players to be disgruntled. And everyone knows White isn't afraid to speak his mind. It might make for a good storyline for HBO's "Hard Knocks," but the Falcons and White don't need the drama.

If any type of negotiations started -- which there is no guarantee such is the case -- any business was put on hold as White grieved the recent murder of his younger brother back home in South Carolina. White rejoined the team for the end of organized team activities, then was held out of minicamp as a precaution.

Maybe the Falcons are proceeding with caution in regard to the extension because of White's age and because he battled numerous injuries last season. However, White proved he has plenty left in him when he caught 38 passes for 449 yards and two touchdowns over the final four games of 2013.

White wants to play three or four more years and retire a Falcon. He knows he won't break the bank on the way out. Another $8-10 million guaranteed doesn't seem too outrageous for a player who posted six consecutive seasons of 1,000-plus receiving yards between 2007-2012. Plus, he has 12 games of eight-plus catches and 12 games of 100-plus receiving yards since turning 30.

No to mention an extension could help free up some cap space and lower White's cap number for 2014. He currently has the team's third-highest cap figure at $6.35 million, behind quarterback Matt Ryan ($17.5 million) and left guard Justin Blalock ($7.66 million). The Falcons currently are about $9 million under the cap, and you never know when a few extra dollars might come in handy.

White is destined to be relied upon heavily this season. Jones, if fully healthy, is sure to attract the most attention from opposing defenses, leaving more opportunities for White. And with tight end Tony Gonzalez now retired, it makes White that much more valuable as one of Ryan’s top targets.

So if White receives an extension -- which he should -- he’ll surely get plenty of opportunities to prove his worth.

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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