Roddy White has been the face of the Falcons franchise for years. In the 2005 NFL Draft, White was selected 27th overall by the Falcons. He was brought in to be the primary weapon for starting quarterback Michael Vick. White experienced success in 2007 with Vick at quarterback, and many believed a White/Vick combination might become the most dynamic duo in the NFL in upcoming seasons. However, the appalling news of Michael Vick’s arrest due to dogfighting allegations put a halt to their success. White endured an awful 4-12 campaign the following season, catching passes from Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwitch and Chris Redman. However, despite the team’s dreadful season and the quarterback carrousel, White stood out as one of the lone bright spots on the team. He caught 83 receptions for 1202 yards, and staked his claim as one of the true up and coming stars in the NFL. The Falcons took Matt Ryan with the 3rd pick in the 2008 draft, and White and Ryan began to gel immediately. White made the Pro-Bowl the next 4 seasons with Ryan at quarterback. He became a genuine top 5 wide receiver in the NFL and one of the best players in Falcons franchise history. But since, White has fallen off a little and is not getting any younger. Can he still be a solid #2 receiver for the Falcons in the future?
After 6 straight seasons of at least 80 receptions and 1100 yards receiving, White has started to show his age. He is now 33 years old and will be turning 34 during the upcoming season. Over the past two seasons, the Falcons have given White an extension and cut Harry Douglas. While I was not a person asking to show White the door, these moves and the assumption that White can still be a solid #2 might prove to be mistakes.
The last two seasons, White has been battling lingering injuries. While he has only missed 5 total games over that span, he has been a shell of himself when he has been on the field. As a result of the health issues that have plagued Falcons wide receivers the past two seasons, Harry Douglas really stepped up. In 2013, Douglas established himself in the NFL with the most prolific season of his career. In the absence of Julio Jones and with a struggling Roddy White, Douglas caught 85 balls for over 1,000 yards receiving. He showed he can be more than just a slot receiver in the NFL, and that he was hungry to take the next step. He returned back to his #3 receiver role in 2014, and although he did not see the same number of targets, he was still very effective. However, in sort of an odd turn of events when Quinn took over as head coach, Douglas was cut in order to save about $3 million dollars in cap space. The same cap space that never was put to use.
Roddy may very well have a bounce back season this year. Maybe he returns to his Pro-Bowl form, but that is highly unlikely. White’s best days are behind him and relying on him to shoulder the load as the #2 receiver might bite the Falcons in the butt this season. At least with Douglas, the Falcons had a serviceable replacement if White was not at 100% or could not play at all. The Falcons are all in with White this season, and the cutting of Harry Douglas will end up being the worst move of the Falcons offseason.