Roddy White released by Falcons with two years left on contract

ByVaughn McClure via ESPN logo
Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Atlanta Falcons have released Roddy White, the franchise's all-time leading receiver, with two years remaining on his contract.

White, who is out of the country, declined to discuss the details of his release. He did relay this message to Falcons fans: "I love them. I enjoyed. And it was fun.''

In a text to ESPN's Josina Anderson, White said he wants to play in the NFL "another year or 2."

White, 34, was due to make $4.25 million in 2016 with a high salary-cap figure of $6,137,500. He previously said he had no desire to take a pay cut.

His release provides a cap savings of just $2,362,500 in 2016.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn said the team did not approach White about restructuring his contract to remain with the team.

Quinn said he did not speak with White over the phone about the decision to release him. Instead, they communicated via text message.

"We communicated by text but I'm looking forward to talking to him in person," Quinn said. "He's somebody I have a good relationship with, although our professional one is not continuing. Based on where he was, we could not communicate (via phone) today.''

When pressed on why he couldn't wait until White returned to Atlanta to break the news about the release, Quinn said he wanted to give White the full opportunity to find another team before the start of free agency. Quinn said he intends to meet with White personally upon his return.

"Roddy is one of the greatest players to ever put on a Falcons uniform, and even more importantly, he is a man of tremendous character that I and my entire family have profound personal affection and respect for," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement Wednesday.

"I have developed a special relationship with him over the years, my children have grown admiring him and our partners and I all share a debt of gratitude for what he has meant to us and our team. Truly, there are no words to adequately express my thanks for all he has meant to me, my family, the Falcons and to this community, both on and off the field. He has been a difference-maker in every way and has touched numerous lives here in Atlanta.

"Roddy will forever be part of the Falcons family and I'm confident our fans will always remember and be grateful for the exemplary way he has represented them over the last 11 years. We wish him nothing but the very best, and, on a personal level, we look forward to a lifetime relationship with Roddy and his family."

White's future with the team became bleak last season after his role diminished under new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

Between 2007-14, White made four Pro Bowls and averaged 88.25 catches and 1,175.63 yards per season as either the primary target or No. 2 option behind Julio Jones. But last year, White was the team's fourth-leading receiver, catching 43 passes for 506 yards and one touchdown on 67 targets.

White did not have a catch in Weeks 2 and 3 against the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys and was the target just once in those games.

After he caught just two passes in a Week 4 win over Houston, White voiced his displeasure about his role.

"For me, at the end of the day, I want to catch passes," White told "I'm not out here just [messing] around just to sit around to just block people all day. It's not what I want to do. I've contributed to offenses for this franchise for the last nine, 10 years. It always bothers me when I go out and don't catch any balls in a game because it hasn't happened in so long.''

White's words prompted clear-the-air meetings with head coach Dan Quinn and Shanahan. White got more touches in the latter half of the season, but his relationship with Shanahan was frosty the entire year.

Through it all, White maintained he wanted to be a Falcon for life. Quinn also expressed value in White's role as one of the team's leaders. But production on the field obviously outweighed the intangibles.

"Roddy is one of the best competitors and warriors I have ever been around," Quinn said in the statement. "He was one of the first players I reached out to when I was hired here, and I want to thank him for his professionalism and leadership. Although this was a difficult decision, we feel this is best for everyone as we continue to put this team together, not just for the 2016 season, but for the future as well."

White is likely to have options for where to finish his career, if he elects not to retire. His former offensive coordinator in Atlanta, Dirk Koetter, is the head coach in Tampa Bay. And his former wide receivers coach, Terry Robiskie, is the offensive coordinator in Tennessee.

Asked what teams he would consider playing for, White texted Anderson: "I'm a Southern guy. I love the South."

Issues with his left knee did not stop White from playing the entire 2015 season. In fact, he maintained a regular practice schedule despite having his knee drained before minicamp and having a minor procedure on his right elbow before the season opener. White said his body felt better than it had in years after he reported to last year's training camp four pounds lighter than normal.

A 2005 first-round draft pick out of Alabama-Birmingham, White leaves the Falcons with 10,863 receiving yards on 808 receptions with 63 touchdowns, also a franchise record. He posted six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2007-12 and twice got at least 100 catches in a season, with 115 in 2010 and 100 in 2011.

At one point, White had a streak of 133 consecutive games played, which ended when he was inactive for a October 2013 game against Tampa Bay because of hamstring and ankle injuries.

Even before White's release, the Falcons entered the offseason intent on adding a No. 2 target to alleviate some pressure off Jones.

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