Falcons coach Dan Quinn could not shine any light on the offseason’s most pressing question: the future of wide receiver Roddy White.
“Not yet,” Quinn said, Wednesday, on whether the team had a final decision. “He’s somebody that we certainly know that we have a lot of respect and admiration for. As we are building this team together, he and some other players go on to that line. We’re not into that decision yet. When we do regarding team building processes, we’ll fill you guys in.”
White, the Falcons’ all-time leading receiver, is under contract for the next two seasons. His production dropped dramatically last season. White said it would be a “tragedy” if didn’t finish his career with the Falcons.
The Falcons have waived four players, including safety William Moore and linebacker Justin Durant. The team also is parting ways with defensive tackle Paul Soliai. Quinn advised that it wouldn’t be prudent to read into those moves that White is safe.
“We’re still in the process of everything that we’re going through,” Quinn said. “Not, just with Rod. Every year, we’re going through this team finding ways that we are going to do it and build it all together. I wouldn’t read into it one way or another. We are just going through the process.”
The Falcons drafted wide receiver Justin Hardy in the fourth round of the draft last year. Hardy, the NCAA’s all-time leading receptions leader, finished the season with 21 catches for 194 yards.
Hardy, who’s 5-foot-10 and 188 pounds, clearly is in the Falcons’ plans moving forward. The decision on White could clear open a starting spot.
“Justin Hardy made a significant impact,” Quinn said. “One of the things that I most respect about him was that he was a guy who was really working to develop himself.”
Quinn noted that he’d walk past the wide receiver’s meeting room and notice that Hardy would be watching tape with wide receiver Julio Jones and discussing beating man-to-man coverage.
“That’s a guy who was digging to find it,” Quinn said. “He’s made a huge impact on us already. The toughness that he displayed on special teams was certainly evident for a guy who had no special-teams experience. For him to come in and contribute in that way. His run-through-the-catch ability is exactly what we hoped for. We are expecting big things from Justin in 2016.”
The Falcons hold the 17th pick in the draft and several good defenders will be available, including Ole Miss standout Robert Nkemdiche, who starred at Grayson High.
He must explain to the Falcons and other NFL teams about a December drug-possession arrest and about his 15-foot fall from a Buckhead hotel.
“That part, for some guys that have some questions that they’d like to have answers and be in front of some guys, I think it’s really important,” Quinn said. “As we got through this interview process with the players, that’s part of the one where you connect and find out whether it’s 15 minutes or you schedule some time afterwards to find out more about one another and see if it’s a good fit.”
In addition to scouting players at the combine, the Falcons have some pressing free-agency issues.
Quinn said that he’d like for the team to retain linebacker O’Brien Schofield and defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
“Relentless competitors,” Quinn said. “Both of them. They embody the attitude that we like.”
He’s also aware of Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin’s desire to play for the Falcons.
“I’m not surprised by that,” Quinn said. “Bruce and I have always had a great connection. But as far as free agency and where we are with that, that’s a lot of speculation.”
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