Falcons avoid drama with White extension
July, 24, 2014
By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com
With the crew of HBO's "Hard Knocks" set to dissect the Atlanta Falcons' every move during training camp, the team avoided adding unnecessary drama to the equation.
In signing veteran wide receiver Roddy White to a four-year extension that includes $10 million guaranteed, the Falcons kept themselves out of a potentially messy situation.
Although White said Thursday, "I don't think I would have held out" and missed the start of training camp on Friday, the Falcons certainly didn't want the extension to be any type of distraction. The Falcons need White to be a happy camper, and need everyone to be on the same page going into such a critical season. They are trying to make last season's 4-12 implosion a distant memory, and the last thing the team needed was for one of its most respected players to feel disrespected.
White, a four-time Pro Bowl receiver, expected all along to be a Falcon for life, particularly after the team expressed its desire to keep him in the fold. He simply wanted the organization to keep its word and follow through with what he anticipated would happen after the draft.
Extension talks hadn't even started until this week. The initial process was put on hold as White mourned the loss of his younger brother, who was shot to death in South Carolina in May. The team gave White his space as he grieved.
Negotiations heated up Tuesday, but there was some concern that a deal wouldn't get done. Then White's agents flew in to meet with the team Wednesday night, and the sides obviously worked diligently to get matters resolved before reporting time.
White brings levity to the locker room, along with a swagger. His vibe rubs off on the younger players. And, by the way, White can play a little bit, too. Although he turns 33 in November, his production toward the end of last season showed he has plenty left.
If White remains injury-free -- he was hampered by ankle and hamstring problems last season -- he should be ready for a productive season with tag-team partner Julio Jones (foot surgery) back in the fold.
"As long as I can stay healthy, I'll be a successful football player in this league," White said. "I don't feel like I'm down a step or I can't go out there and play. I've watched guys like Reggie Wayne before his knee injury, and he'd go out there every year and have 1,000-yard seasons. That's how I see myself, as that type of player.
"If I don’t get hurt, I feel like I can always be an elite wide receiver in this league -- especially for the next two or three years."
Things are looking up for the Falcons. Let's see how the rest of the drama unfolds.