Should Teams Be Looking to Sign Roddy White?
Roddy White is going to go down as one of the all-time great Atlanta Falcons. He put together six straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons between 2007 and 2012, and is the Falcons' all-time leader in receptions (808), receiving yards (10,863) and receiving touchdowns (63).
But after a disappointing 2015 season where he turned 70 targets into only 45 receptions, 506 yards and 1 touchdown, the Falcons have released White. He has said that he wants to play another season or two, but it's not often we see a player go out on their own terms. He's expected to draw some interest in free agency, but at this point in his career, is he worth investing in?
Let's dig into the numbers and see what teams can hope to get with White.
It's no surprise that players' production deteriorates as they get older, and at 33 years old with 10 NFL seasons under his belt, going into last year was a matter of when, not if, White would start to show signs of age.
While last season was the first time in three years that White played a full 16 games, his target, reception, yardage and touchdown numbers were all the lowest he's posted since before his 2007 breakout season.
If we dig deeper into the advanced numbers using our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which measures the points contributed by a player compared to expectation level, the decline looks just as bad.
|Year||Reception NEP (rank)||Reception NEP per Target (rank*)||Success Rate||Catch Rate|
|2011||120.23 (5th)||0.67 (45th)||90.2%||55.9%|
|2012||119.88 (5th)||0.84 (15th)||92.1%||64.3%|
|2013||65.68 (39th)||0.68 (39th)||89.0%||65.0%|
|2014||79.15 (29th)||0.64 (48th)||90.0%||64.5%|
|2015||45.34 (64th)||0.65 (60th)||81.4%||61.4%|
* minimum 50 targets
There are a few things that really jump out here. The two biggest are the huge drop in Success Rate (which measures the percentage of receptions on which a player generates a positive NEP, the league average among wideouts this year being 84.1%), and the drop in his ranking in Reception NEP per target (efficiency).
The success rate numbers are especially bad when combined with his falling catch rate. He struggled to turn targets into receptions, finishing below the league average in catch rate, and when he did get the ball in his hands, he struggled to do much with it.
His per-target Reception NEP numbers over the past two season have been his two worst since his 2007 breakout year, and as more and more receivers start posting superior efficiency numbers, White's value continues to deteriorate.
What's Next for White?
So what do White's prospects for 2016 look like?
He'll be turning 35 this year, and has played 11 seasons. He's coming off of two of the most inefficient seasons of his career, including his worst numbers in a decade last year.
At this point, it looks like it would be an accomplishment if he could even just sustain his production from the past couple of seasons instead of regressing even further. In signing him, a team is hoping for a best-case scenario where they get an inefficient receiver who lacks any sort of big play ability (he doesn't have a reception over 40 yards in the last three seasons), and isn't a threat in the red zone (one touchdown on eight red zone targets in 2015).
If his production does continue to drop? Fans will just have to hope the team's coaching is competent enough to keep White on the bench.
Working in White's favor is a bit of a dearth in talent in this years' free agent wide receiver class. With Marvin Jones, Travis Benjamin and Mohamed Sanu highlighting the group, White will likely find himself a landing spot. But fair warning to fans of whatever team he does sign with: don't expect much.