Free agent running back Devonta Freeman remains unsigned months after the start of free agency. After six seasons in Atlanta with the Falcons, Freeman proved himself to be a serviceable dual-threat back, but injuries hampered his efforts over the last two years. His stock was fairly low coming into his first free agency foray of his career. With that in mind, he seemed to be a likely candidate to sign a one-year prove-it deal, especially as a running back, a position group that doesn't exactly have the greatest leverage in today's NFL.
Freeman has not read the market correctly, it would seem. On a conference call with reporters, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said Freeman's price point was too high to consider adding the former division rival.
The Bucs didn't have much cap space to work with after signing Tom Brady in free agency, and it lines up that Freeman would probably have to take a big discount in regards to his perceived value to suit up in Florida. But that would be the best decision for his career.
Freeman tops out as, at best, a top-10 running back in the league. He's not going to set the market on running back contracts like Le'Veon Bell or Todd Gurley. That was especially not going to be the case after a disappointing 2019 season which saw him rush for only 656 yards and two touchdowns. What Freeman did have going for him was a career year catching passes out of the backfield, racking up 59 receptions for 410 yards and four TDs. The Bucs' leading rusher last season was Ronald Jones, who ran for 724 yards and six touchdowns-- but caught only 30 passes. Brady loves to hit his running backs, so Freeman's skill in that area seemed like a natural match for Tampa's needs.
It's basically the ideal situation for Freeman. He may not get paid big money, but given we are now in June and he is still a free agent, nobody is going to do that. If he still wants to play football, why not lower the price point so he can join the Bucs? They're going to have a top-5 offense at minimum. He won't need to be the bellcow of the backfield and can spend his season catching passes from a quarterback many consider to be the greatest to step onto the field. He would definitely win games and experience playoff success he's been lacking since 2016.
Freeman has no leverage at this point. He could wait until the season gets underway and some team signs him for slightly more than the veteran minimum after their starter goes down. Or he could sign with Tampa for less money than he wants, put together a reasonably prolific offensive season as Brady's top option out of the backfield, and enter free agency in 2021 with his stock on the rise. Seems like an easy decision that Freeman has yet to make.