Deadline (the other one): White’s justified if he holds out

It's easy to tell this photo is from 2008 and not 2006 because Roddy White is celebrating. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Since we’re about five hours from the baseball trade deadline and I hear only crickets, I wanted to weigh in on something before players are scheduled to check in tonight for Falcons training camp: Lay off Roddy White.

Honestly, of all the things I’ve anticipated writing one day, defending White’s position in contract negotiations wasn’t one of them. He wasn’t a bust in his first two NFL seasons — he was whatever is south of that. A bust is someone who was thought to be able to play but can’t. South of that is someone who can play but just seems to have brain lock or keeps tripping over his own ego.

Case in point: DeAngelo Hall.

For his first two seasons, that was White. He was lazy. He was immature. He lacked focus. He dropped passes. He had 29 passes in his first season and 30 in his second, and for a while there I wasn’t sure if the Falcons would give him a third. But he started to turn into a receiver in year three and last season he played his way into the Pro Bowl, with career highs of 88 catches, 1,382 yards (a franchise record) and seven touchdowns.

Today, Roddy White is one of the premier receivers in the NFL. Probably top 10. He wants to be paid like it. Frankly, I don’t blame him. He has a year left on his contract, and before you start pounding your keyboard with the typical response — “He’s selfish! He’s disloyal! He won’t honor his contract!” — you need to understand that NFL players live in a different world than other pro athletes. In fact, they live in a different from almost anybody. NFL contracts are not fully guaranteed.

White’s original “five-year” contract, like every NFL “five-year” contract, is really more like a series of one-year contracts. White’s original $7.3 million contract had only $4.75 million guaranteed.  The Falcons could’ve dumped him after season two or three and paid him only the minimal (if any) remaining guarantee. Loyalty is a two-way street.

I’m not debating the NFL’s system — the players union accepts that in the Collective Bargaining Agreement so I’m not going to argue. But you can’t expect a player to NOT debate his value with time left on his contract when ownership does the same thing after every season.

Given the way the Falcons have operated under owner Arthur Blank, I have little doubt the team will take care of White. But if the receiver chooses to hold out when training camp opens Saturday in Flowery Branch, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Withholding services is his only leverage. He should use it.

Because if the Falcons dumped White two years ago and didn’t pay him the remaing $2.55 million left on his contract, nobody would’ve said a word.

136 comments Add your comment

Scott B

July 31st, 2009
11:01 am

I hope Roddy gets paid and isn’t forced to hold out. This offense has a chance to be very special. We need all the playmakers in camp so they are prepared to crank it up once the season starts.

Falcondore

July 31st, 2009
11:05 am

Great point Jeff. White is in a really weak position right now because he really will be stuck under our control for two more years, since RFA’s next year are trapped from going anywhere during the uncapped year in the following season. As such, the Falcons have a lot of motivation to simply slip to next year if they don’t get the terms they want for White’s contract.

However, we need White badly. He is a tremendous playmaker in the passing game and has really demonstrated a level of maturity that is rare at the position in the past two seasons. If we can lock him up for somewhere south of Greg Jennings money, it would be phenomenal, although he probably deserves a contract north of that, but south of Fitz.

NC Braves Fan

July 31st, 2009
11:07 am

Jeff: I hate to go off-topic on you here, but I can’t find a way to hit you up via email or DM you on Twitter. The earlier Braves post is not fully displaying for me for some reason.

FALCONS SORRY

July 31st, 2009
11:29 am

RODDY WHITE! I DO NOT BLAME YOU ONE BIT FOR HOLDING OUT! YOU CAME TO THE FALCONS THINKING YOU WOULD BE PLAYING WITH THE GREATEST QB OF ALL TIME MIKE VICK INSTEAD OF THAT MATTY HOPELESS! NO RECEIVER IN HIS RIGHT MINE WOULD RATHER PLAY WITH HIM THAN VICK! VICK CAN MAKE YOUR WHOLE CAREER AND MAKE YOU RICHER THAN YOU EVER DREAMED OF! IF YOU ARE HOLDING OUT TO SEE WHERE VICK SIGNS SO YOU CAN FINALLY PLAY WITH HIM AGAIN YOU ARE ONE SMART MAN! VICK MAKES BAD OFFENSIVES GOOD AND GOOD OFFENSIVES GREAT! MIKE VICK MAY NO LONGER BE THAT SORRY AUTHUR BLANK’S QUARTERBACK BUT YOU WILL ALWAYS BE THE PEOPLE’S QUARTERBACK HERE IN ATL MIKE!

ATLien

July 31st, 2009
11:30 am

Could White hold out but still attend mini-camp? Maybe not participate but be there on the side lines watching and observing, maybe attend the meetings? That way it could be a sign of good faith between the two sides. The Falcons brass would be implying that a deal is in the works and Roddy would be showing that he wants to be a part of this team.

mitch

July 31st, 2009
11:30 am

Dear Mr. JS–never let it be said that you aren’t a fairminded guy. It’s certainly apparent that you have the ability to see both sides of an issue. You are fairminded and have the ability to see both sides of an argument. All your readers are really glad to know that, I’m sure. Finally, I am tremendously relieved to learn that should White hold out at the beginning of training camp, you would have no problem with it. See what I’m saying? You would have no problem with it. And the way I see it, if you don’t have a problem with it, it follows that no other right minded person should either. Your pal, Mitch

Joey

July 31st, 2009
11:31 am

Let’s see, he performed one year out of three, got paid millions anyway, is still under contract for another year, for millions more, and you think he should hold out of camp for even more millions? This is your idea of loyalty, Jeff? You must come from a long line of Teamsters or UAWs.

ATLien

July 31st, 2009
11:31 am

@FALCONS SORRY go back to your suburban Charlotte home you loser

mitch

July 31st, 2009
11:34 am

NC Braves Fan–ol’ Jeff is about to pull a fast one on us. Just hold your horses on account of it’s gonna be really cute. Your pal, Mitch

tupac elliot

July 31st, 2009
11:34 am

he should NOT be a distraction this season. After all, the first two seasons he was sub par and he got PAID! And Paid well to be sub par..therefore, get to camp and lets have a great superbowl season! And win it…..I have no doubt Arthur will take care of all the dedcated, hardworking, productive Falcons! Go Falcons!

PMC

July 31st, 2009
11:34 am

Just pay the man, geez this is a good time to reup Roddy anyway. 6 million a year wouldn’t be unreasonable. If they can get him for 5 years and 35-40 million or so including all the bonuses… do it.

PMC

July 31st, 2009
11:36 am

you’ve got to have guys like Roddy on the team. He’s an up and coming player coming into his prime and you paid for him to learn his rookie lessons… letting him get away would be stupid.

PMC

July 31st, 2009
11:38 am

The other thing, if it takes a bit of holdout that’s not going to hurt the Falcons this year as long as he’s training and working out on his own. It might even help giving more reps to some of the other guys. A short holdout would not be a bad deal but now that Jerry is signed this should be a top priority.

Art Vandelay

July 31st, 2009
11:39 am

Roddy deserves a contract just below that of Larry Fitzgerald. Nobody compares to Fitz in terms of ability, but there’s no denying that Roddy is just as important to the Falcons as Fitzgerald is to the Cardinals. Time to give him a contract that will lock him up for the rest of his career so the birds can get down to business!

Jeff Schultz

July 31st, 2009
11:41 am

ScottB – Agreed. This offense could be one of NFL’s best, esp. with addition of Gonzalez.

Falcondore – You’re right about the RFA thing, but I don’t think the Falcons want to get into a situation of franchising him or something. That’s never pretty.

NC Braves Fan – Explorer problem should be fixed. Sorry.

Falcons Sorry – Thanks for the daily Michael Vick reference. Also please click the CAPS unlock key. My eyes hurt. Thanks.

Atlien – I don’t follow. He either holds out or he doesn’t. If you’re whether he could report to training camp but walk out again before the season starts, sure, he can do anything he wants. FYI: The paychecks don’t start until Week 1 so it would make more sense to hold out now.

Joey – I have no idea what you’re talking about with the Teamsters. But maybe you’d like me to send somebody over to examine your kneecaps.

Brian

July 31st, 2009
11:44 am

It’ll be interesting to see how the Falcons F.O. handles this one, since it’s the first situation of it’s kind under the new regime. Now that Peria Jerry is signed, they should be able to focus pretty heavily on White if they really want his contract to be situated before camp starts. Get your popcorn ready!

quint

July 31st, 2009
11:45 am

Pay him based on his ranking as a wide receiver. If he was the no. 8 receiver in the NFL, pay him that way. Pay for performance.

Unca' Bob

July 31st, 2009
11:48 am

ATLein,

Our first priority was to get P Jerry under contract before Camp opened. They have done that. R White is under contract for ay least this season, and if he is a no show, it will cost him. Having said that, R White knows the disruption it would be team-wise. He also knows TD will do the right thing with his extention. He will be there.

jjb

July 31st, 2009
11:50 am

I have a problem with someone under contract holding out. They did not sign the contract under duress. And if he should get paid like a top 8 receiver, then he should be retroactively charged for the pay that he recieved when he didn’t deliver. It seems to me to be fair, he got overpaid for his first two years and underpaid for the last year of his contract. Don’t sign the contract if you can’t live with it. And yes, the team can cut you, but that is why there is guaranteed money in these contracts.

Atlien Backer

July 31st, 2009
11:51 am

I second ATLien’s post. I could not agree more with ATLien and I could not disagree more with FALCONS SORRY. But I would guess anyone with common sense would no that they are either low on the IQ scale or just trying to start something.

That GOD the Falcons did not listen to most of the fans that said draft the LSU DT instead of Matt Ryan ( and I was one that said that TOO.) I wasn’t sure if Ryan was really an NFL QB. He has only done it for one year, But by all accounts he looks like he is going to be a solid starting NFL problow QB for the next 7 – 10 years. Something the Falcons have not had well really ever.

Good luck with your contect Roddy White! Hope you don’t leave us & but I hope we don’t over pay to the point that it hurts us trying to bring in more talent or resign other players too.

We do need you Roddy your a great WR and you had a really specail year last year.

Good job to all the Falcons last year doing it again!

midnite

July 31st, 2009
11:51 am

Last year and a half Roddy really turned it around and made some great catches. About the only good thing to come out of the Bobby Petrino mess was that Roddy credited Paul Petrino(WR coach)with his recent success. I will be out at Flowery Branch for practice on Tuesday a.m. 08-04-09 as an on field guest, can’t wait!

BugKiller

July 31st, 2009
11:51 am

Jeff,

If you had a Coach Killer, Dog-Killer, Receiver-Killer running back throwing you passes at a 52% completion clip, you probably wouldn’t work too hard, either.

As much as Petrino is justifiably hated in this town, and I’m at the top of the list, the one thing he did is point Roddy White in the right direction.

It probably helped, also, that the Dog Killer wasn’t throwing him passes the last two years, as well.

Jeff Schultz

July 31st, 2009
11:53 am

Art Vandelay — good analysis. White’s not in Fitz category yet but he is in terms of being valuable to Falcons. Other names at the top — Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Randy Moss (still), T.J Housh, Anquan Boldin, Hines Ward (when healthy) and probably a few others can’t think if right now.

Unca’ Boy — Agree that it’s worse if a rookie lineman misses time in camp.

Read between the CAPS...

July 31st, 2009
11:55 am

If you haven’t figured it out by now… FALCONS SORRY is just an act. He knows exactly what people don’t want to read and therefore everything he writes is just that. Give that man some benefit of the doubt because nobody could be that ignorant. I mean, it never makes any sense at all and I refuse to believe mankind is headed in that direction.

quint

July 31st, 2009
11:55 am

It’s kind of hard to have much sympathy for these guys when GA teachers signed blank contracts and are having furlough days.

Jeff Schultz

July 31st, 2009
11:55 am

Bugkiller — you had to open that door, didn’t ya? Here we go . . .

it's getting close

July 31st, 2009
11:57 am

ESPN is reporting the Roddy has signed a 10 year 500 million dollar extension…oh, wait. Never mind, it’s ESPN.

TotallyRad

July 31st, 2009
11:59 am

FALCONS SORRY – WHY ARE YOUR SHOUTING? Geez dude! Get a grip on yourself! Also, what are you smoking? MV the greatest of all time? Plz! You must not be a REAL football fan to think that! Just an MV fan right? Great athlete yes, greatest of all time? Not even close!

Mitch – we can do without your insightful wisdom about your sarcastic blurb on JS and his position on Roddy. We all know what he meant and your comments are a waste of space.

Last, I agree that RW deserves top 10…maybe even top 5 money. He has earned it. RW is a classic case of a guy who was immature and finally grew up. He is an incredible athelete with awesome hands. Not to mention his first couple of years he had a QB that couldnt hit him, and the last two he has had QB’s that can deliver the ball to him with touch.

Go Falcons GO

July 31st, 2009
12:03 pm

Gettin close wow Really! come on do you think anyone is that dumb! Really

Art Vandelay

July 31st, 2009
12:04 pm

Jeff, I may be a bit biased, but I’d take White over just about everyone on that list of top receivers, except maybe Calvin Johnson. In terms of how he fits with what the Falcons are doing, I don’t know that there’s a better man for the job right now. I also like that he does his job without being the typical primadonna or drama queen like so many of the other top wide receivers in the league. If he holds out for a better contract, that won’t change how I view him — it’s just business, and he’s doing what’s in his best interests. It speaks volumes about his character that he hasn’t been arguing his case in the media; I think he knows that the Falcons’ front office wants to keep him here for a long time, and he trusts that they’ll (eventually) pony up the money to ensure that.

bigeasy830

July 31st, 2009
12:04 pm

It Doesn’t matter if he shows up or not.

Falcons 4-12 in 2009
“Back To Life, Back To Reality”

Wes

July 31st, 2009
12:08 pm

Get your money Roddy. You know their gonna pay you. Just take the top 10 WR salaries, average it out per year what they are gonna be paid, and give him a 5 year deal for that amount and be done with it. He’s not Fitgerald, C. Johnson, or Randy Moss (maybe not Steve Smith, but pretty damn close), but he’s at least as good as anyone else you can name. Plus he’s confortable with Ryan, and the Falcons have the cap room. Get it done.

Marie

July 31st, 2009
12:14 pm

While I can agree with some of the points you made in your article, I have to agree with Joey that we should not be too hasty with loading Roddy up with a big fat contract. While he is showing good as a matter of fact I would say tremendous progress in becoming a quality receiver, I am just not sure he has arrived at the point where I am willing to bestow on him the Larry Fitzgerald status that some want to bestow on him. He may be more like a Braylon Edwards who occassionally shows flashes of brilliance but seems to never really put it all together.

I was re-watching the playoff game the other week on the NFL Network and Roddy dropped a few crucial passes in the final 2 quarters of the game and there is still a tendency on his part to be a bit butterfingery when you want him to be sure handed (granted I know even the best receivers will occassionally drop passes).

PMC

July 31st, 2009
12:14 pm

Hats off to PAUL PETRINO for working with Roddy.

As for his brother…. that *** **** can jump off a cliff.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 31st, 2009
12:22 pm

I was watching a MNF game one time and this guy for the Cardinals made a tough catch against the Cowboys for the game winner. He got knocked out when he came down in the end zone. When he came to, the Cardinals gave him a new contract. Maybe that will happen with Roddy. Do the Falcons play the Cowboys on MNF? Lets hope so for Roddy’s sake.

TLAW

July 31st, 2009
12:34 pm

retroactively charged??I get so tired of DUB____s saying that when a player’s performance was average or below par, that they didnt give any money back, so they shouldn’t ask for a raise when they out perform. That arguement is pure nonsense. When you fix a double cheeseburger and the guy at the counter asked for a Big Mac, do you have to give back half of your $7.25, I thought not.

Craig Walker

July 31st, 2009
12:36 pm

Plain and simple Roddy deserves to get paid and I’m sure the FO will make it happen. Everyone on the AFMB is getting all worked up over this too. No big deal, AB and TD will take care of Roddy. If for some reason he isn’t at TC when it starts I don’t blame him but I doubt that happens.

Hollywould

July 31st, 2009
12:45 pm

I get the feeling this deal will be done soon. Coach Smith will want it done. I say pay him what he
is entitled to. He has become one of the top ten receivers in the league and with Gonzo and this running attack will get a lot of single coverage. The best receivers cannot be covered one on one by any cornerback.

Gator Hater

July 31st, 2009
1:05 pm

Tell him to catch the big time throws, and he will get his money. Roddy is all about dropping those. He is far from elite status. Remember the Denver Game? How about the Arizona Game? Nuff Said.

TBizzle

July 31st, 2009
1:07 pm

1. All receivers drop passes. Just like the best batters strike out, the best FT shooters miss FT’s, and the best QBs miss wide open targets. That said, Roddy caught FAR more than he dropped. It’s easy to say “well, in this game and this time he dropped this pass and if he caught it then blah, blah, blah.” You can also say, “well, at this point in this game he caught the ball and if he would not have then blah, blah, blah.” It works both ways, folks.

2. The Falcons gave Jenkins a contract extension and handsomely rewarded him for providing 1/2 the product that White has provided. It’s time to reward Roddy.

Gator Hater

July 31st, 2009
1:08 pm

Heck what about that time Vick threw him a rainbow, and he just flat out dropped. He is not a big time player. That’s why we got Gonzo to make the winning catch.

Phil of Playaz Ball

July 31st, 2009
1:10 pm

One good season does not make him an elite receiver. Two good seasons and we can talk.

I appreciate RW attempting to get an extension, but I don’t think he should be offended if the Falcons don’t feel obligated to throw “franchise” money at someone with one Pro Bowl under his belt after several terrible years preceding it.

Gator Hater

July 31st, 2009
1:11 pm

TBizzle your’e not a true fan. I’ve been watching Roddy drop balls forever. I remember that one season were the Falcons leaded the league in that stat, so there is a point to be made. Finneran is my boy. He makes the catches.

Jonathan

July 31st, 2009
1:14 pm

To all those who think Roddy White is being disloyal by negotiating a new contract remember this. Javon Walker played far above his rookie contract in 2004, making the Pro Bowl with similar numbers to White. He tried to negotiate a contract through the media (hissy fits, threats, trade me, et al), and when The Great Farve talked him in to coming to camp (by calling him out publicly) without a new contract he came back and blew out his knee in the first game of 2005 and has never been the same since.

Fact is, this is a business. Moreso, it is a business that is predicted on something as fleeting as the health of an aging body. All Roddy White is doing is finding the market for his services while the market remains. He is entitled to do that, both morally and by the CBA.

Daniel

July 31st, 2009
1:15 pm

Roddy certainly deserves a pay raise and the Falcons FO seems to certainly know what it is doing these days. I can’t imagine that somehting won’t get done relatively quickly. Like many others here have said, they were obviously getting Jerry done first. I just wonder if it has really been long enough since the “Free Vick” t-shirt to have the public debate your value to the team. True Jeff, that holding out is his only leverage which is only useful when you have a high public opinion. Seems to me the smart move on Roddy’s part is to play this season, and continue to show his excellent play and renegotiate next season when Vick’s cap hit is gone and all you are left with is good will and money to spend. I know it is a gamble because of the injury risk, but he could get 6 mil over 3-4 years vs. 8-9 mil next year. Even with smart investment you won’t make 21 mil in 3 years time.

BMWe46Mdriver

July 31st, 2009
1:16 pm

@ FALCONS SORRY Based on you comment it appears that you are just another “one dimensional” NFL fan. In other words, you base you opinion soley on the highlight reels of sports center and fail to take the time to analyze the stats. Do this. Compare Michael Vick’s stats to Matt Ryan. Analyze it. Do you honestly think Roddy White desires to be on the receiving end of a pass from Vick or Ryan? Think about it. If Roddy is looking to be paid sufficiently for his services, I think he would prefer boosting his stock with someone who will pass him the ball on a more accurate and consistent basis. Again, this is my opinion, based on stats.

Ron

July 31st, 2009
1:18 pm

Go ahead and pay him. After all, you pointed out that most of the money doesn’t have to be guaranteed anyway. As long as he produces, you pay him. When he doesn’t, you cut him loose and are only responsible for the guaranteed portion of the contract.

Daniel

July 31st, 2009
1:18 pm

Also, I like a lot of Roddy’s game and he has really seemed to have turned a corner with his attitude. But, he can’t carry Larry Fitzgerald’s luggage(few can), but I would rather have him than Chad Johnson.

Falcondore

July 31st, 2009
1:23 pm

Jeff, thanks for the reply. I’m not saying the Falcons want to get in a Franchise thing with Roddy. I’m just highlighting the fact that the only bargaining chip White has is a holdout. I think its nearly a given that White wants to be here and that the Falcons want to lock him up in the long term. I’m just saying that the Falcons have very little pressure to get a long-term deal done, and Roddy’s only way of pushing it a bit harder is to hold out.

ghostwriter

July 31st, 2009
1:24 pm

Lock him up within the next few days. Pay him top dollar and be done with it. He deserves the money; let’s not let this be a distraction.