Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman has played a key part in their dynamic offence and their Super Bowl run.
Over the past two seasons, Freeman has accumulated over 2,100 rushing yards, adding 1,000 receiving yards, and 27 touchdowns.
Now, the third-year running back wants to be rewarded for his performance.
According to NFL Network’s Mike Silver, Freeman’s agent has said the Falcons need to make Freeman a “priority this offseason,” paying him like an “elite back.” Freeman also admitted to Silver that he’s been frustrated with his role, as he’s essentially split carries with equally impressive second-year running back Tevin Coleman.
However, later in the week, when asked if this contract talk is distracting days before the Super Bowl, Freeman gave a moving answer about his tough childhood neighbourhood (via NFL Network’s Tiffany Blackmon).
“Where I come from, where I grew up at, you know, I could be playing in the middle of the field… we called it ‘the O’ in the Pork ‘N’ Beans projects, and a shootout might start, y’know, that’s distraction. Dodging a bullet or something like that, that’s a distraction… That’s frustration, going to sleep every night thinking you might hear gun shots… That was the stuff that was distracting me. This is football… ain’t no distraction.”
Freeman added, “Now, it’s just fun. I get to sit back and just do what I do.”
It’s unclear what a contract extension for Freeman might look like. If he wants to be paid like an “elite” running back, a theoretical deal may include several years with a yearly salary around $7-8 million.
On Monday, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff addressed the contract talk, saying (via ESPN), “Devonta obviously is a very good football player. We want him to be here with us, and we are going to address that in the offseason, which is what we should. … We’re confident that we’re going to have him here for years to come.”
Still, for Freeman, worrying about an eight-figure contract days before playing in his first Super Bowl is not a distraction, compared to his journey to the NFL.
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