The Atlanta Falcons have some roster decisions to make with a few of their veterans, especially on offense. By all accounts, the Falcons underachieved in 2015 with the stars they have on offense. Matt Ryan struggled heavily while the receiving unit was inconsistent outside of Julio Jones. Now certain players are having their contracts being brought into question including Devin Hester and Roddy White.
After a solid 2014 season, Hester was barely seen this past year. A turf toe injury kept him off the field until the final month of games. He finished the year with nine kickoffs for 235 yards while returning eight punts for 34 yards. He never saw the field on offense. Now, Hester is dealing with even more injury setbacks. According to ESPN's Vaughn McClure, Hester will be out three to six months after undergoing surgery on his big toe where he broke one of the two sesamoid bones. According to Hester, the surgery was necessary after playing through pain.
"It was just a matter of me trying to fight through it, especially those last five games,'' Hester said. "I knew I was hurt. They knew I was hurt. But at the same time, I felt like I could push my way through. After the season, we knew there was a good chance of having the surgery. That's how it pretty much went.''
Hester is on the books for $3 million next year with a cap hit of $3 million. That is not a terrible deal to keep on. Hester is making it clear that he wants to return in 2016 and play for Atlanta, but if the team needs that money elsewhere, he could be on the chopping block. Hester is the easier release over someone like White who told TMZ that he is a "Falcon for ever and ever, Amen."
White has been with the Falcons franchise since he entered the NFL, but some are wondering if that era is coming to an end. The Falcons need wide receiver help. They need to get younger at the position, but is the need bad enough that White must go as a result? White is signed through 2017 with a manageable salary to keep on. According to McClure, chances are very high that White stays with Atlanta until his contract ends. Both Ryan and Jones have endorsed the return of the receiver noting his leadership and knowledge on the field cannot be replaced.
Regardless of whether White stays or goes, the Falcons need a receiver upgrade. Nick Williams and Justin Hardy were serviceable while the Leonard Hankerson experiment failed. Atlanta needs an upgrade. They could try to sign someone like Travis Benjamin or Rishard Matthews. Jermaine Kearse is another option. After drafting Williams and Hardy, the Falcons would be wise to look at free agents rather than rookies this offseason to fill the need.