I’ve been screaming this from the rooftops since the day it was announced. Do. Not. Pay. Devonta. Freeman. KEEP TEVIN COLEMAN.
I wasn’t going to write this until I learned the Falcons turned down an offer for Freeman at the trade deadline a couple of weeks ago. That makes my blood boil. He’s got a 9.5 million dollar cap hit for 2020 and hasn’t even broken 100 rushing yards on the season. He’s signed on this deal through 2022 and will be making more than $8 million each year. The Falcons had a chance to unload a gaudy contract and didn’t. That is completely irresponsible and one of the many reasons everybody in the building that is making decisions needs to go.
I operate under a very simple philosophy. If you don’t have a guy like Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, or Christian McCaffrey… you let them walk. Let some other fools throw wads of cash at the most replaceable position in the NFL. Running backs are a dime a dozen. Dalvin Cook went in the 2nd round. Kareem Hunt went in the 3rd round. Alvin Kamara went in the 4th round. Aaron Jones went in the 6th round. Guys like Phillip Lindsey and Matt Breida went undrafted. You get what I’m saying. You draft them, run them into the ground, then draft another one. That’s what good teams do.
So why in the world would the Falcons give Freeman five years and 41 million dollars behind a suspect offensive line? And even worse, why would they double down on it by not moving him before the deadline? When he signed the contract in 2017, he was coming off two elite back-to-back seasons. Since then, he has all but disappeared.
2017: 196 Carries, 865 Yards, 61.8 YPG, 36 Catches, 8 Total TDs, 14 Games Played
2018: 14 Carries, 68 Yards, 34.0 YPG, 5 Catches, 0 Total TDs, 2 Games Played
2019: 107 Carries, 371 Yards, 41 YPG, 38 Catches, 3 Total TDs (0 Rushing), 9 Games Played
A lot of this is on Dirk Koetter (as far as 2019 goes). He is allergic to establishing the run. However, this contract would still be complete garbage unless Freeman was top five in the NFL in carries, yards, and scoring at least 10 TDs. Let’s take a look at the guy the Falcons let go after giving Freeman this deal.
Tevin Coleman in 2019: 92 Carries, 395 Yards, 59.2 YPG, 14 Catches, 6 Total TDs, 6 Games Played
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Well, Jake, that’s not much better, and Coleman wouldn’t be doing that in Dirk Koetter’s offense.” Guess what, you’re right. You know what else is also right? Tevin Coleman makes 3.6 million dollars and his contract is up after next season. That’s the same production in fewer games, and Coleman won’t be hamstringing the 49ers cap sheet for years to come when he’s declining. Two years with Coleman on a dirt-cheap deal is a way better value and gives the team flexibility to keep a guy like Austin Hooper instead of being forced to scrounge up cash.
Now, Freeman is injured once again and expected to miss a couple of weeks with a foot sprain. He exited the game in New Orleans last Sunday, so third-string running back Brian Hill was forced into the featured back role (Ito Smith is on IR). And guess what? There was no drop off whatsoever. You could even say Hill looked better than Freeman has all year. There’s no question the Falcons fumbled their running back situation by handing Freeman a friendly contract, but doubling down on it is unforgivable. Whoever is making the decisions this coming offseason is now likely going to have to designate him a post-June 1st cut and still eat a substantial amount of dead money.