Roberts plans to become free agent for third consecutive offseason

Credit: Leon Halip

Credit: Leon Halip

Falcons returner Andre Roberts hopes to return to the team, but suspects he’ll likely become a free agent March 14.

“I believe I will be a free agent this year,” Roberts told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday. “Just like last year and the year before that. I’m understanding of it.”

Roberts, 30, has played eight seasons in the NFL after he was drafted out of The Citadel by Arizona in the third round (88th overall) of the 2010 draft.

He played four seasons with the Cardinals, two with Washington and one with Detroit before joining the Falcons last season.

Roberts played 31 snaps on offense, but was the team’s main kickoff and punt returner. He made good decisions. Some of his longer returns were nullified by penalty.

He averaged 7.4 yards on 27 punt returns and 22.6 on a league-leading 38 kickoff returns.

Roberts’ kickoff return average ranked fourth in the league among players with 30 or more returns. Los Angeles Rams returner Pharoh Cooper led the league with 27.4 yards on kickoff returns.

Roberts knows that teams have other priorities and then normally double-back to add the returner.

“I would love to be back in Atlanta,” Roberts said. “I’m sure my agent will talk to the upper management in Atlanta and see where they are at. That will all come down when it’s due time.”

Roberts enjoyed last season with the Falcons, who reached the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.

“I would definitely like to come back,” Roberts said. “The big thing here is the culture and the brotherhood. I loved everything that our coach (Dan Quinn) represents. I obviously love my teammates.

“It’s a winning organization, and I feel like we have a chance to do something special here in the near future. Who wouldn’t want to be back to play with a team like this?”

Roberts was named the winner of the NFL’s Salute to Service Award, beating out Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera and former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Mularkey for the honor.

Roberts was involved in the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), choosing to honor the organization for the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats initiative this season.