Wide receiver Roddy White is still trying to turn the page on his storied 11-year career with the Falcons.
After the team’s all-time leading receiver was released via text while traveling outside the country last Wednesday, White and his agent, Jonathan Feinsod, have suggested that Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan orchestrated his ouster.
“Nah, I don’t have hard feelings toward Shanahan,” White said in a phone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Not at all. People always asked me, ‘What was your relationship like?’ We didn’t really have a relationship. I can’t be mad at him. You can’t be mad at somebody that you never had a relationship with. Or be angry with him.”
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said releasing White was his decision alone and that he did not consult Shanahan. The Falcons also took umbrage with Feinsod’s comment that Shanahan essentially issued the team an ultimatum to either retain him or release White.
“That absolutely never happened,” team spokesman Brian Cearns said.
White said he didn’t mind receiving his release by text. He missed the original call from Quinn. However, he insisted that Shanahan had been trying to replace him since he arrived in January 2015.
“I mean, everybody could see it throughout the whole season,” White said. “It is what it is. He didn’t have a plan for me to be a part of the offense. The only thing he did was try to give my role to somebody else.”
The Falcons were targeting wide receivers Leonard Hankerson and Nick Williams before throwing to White early in the season. It wasn’t an issue while the team was jumping out to a 5-0 record.
But after White complained about his lack of contribution and defenses caught up to the Falcons’ passing scheme, the offense’s production became a major contributor to their 0-6 slide. White wound up being targeted 70 times all season.
“I didn’t come in here expecting to carry the offense or anything like that,” White said. “He had me and Julio (Jones) and we had been doing our thing for the past four years. This was the first year that my role, like, really changed. It changed, but my time, the time that I was out there didn’t change.
“I just didn’t get any opportunities to catch any passes like I used to. So, it was different. It was the first time in a long time that I didn’t get targeted over 100 times in one season. That was crazy.”
White became infuriated with the notion circulated that he wouldn’t learn the new offense and that led to Shanahan essentially using him as a decoy. White insisted that the West Coast offense is not that difficult to pick up for receivers. The wordy play-calls tell the receiver just what route he’s running.
“So picking up the offense wasn’t an issue at all,” White said. “None of that was an issue. We don’t go huddle. We don’t call a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage. It’s all things that come through the headset. There was nothing to pick up that was so difficult.”
“It’s like XX, B special, Y go, Z basic. I’m the Z. I know what I’ve got.”
White doesn’t believe that Jones will have any problems moving on with Shanahan.
“I’m not worried about Julio,” White said. “He’s going to be alright. Julio is going to do his thing. He’s going to be successful no matter who he plays for just on his talent alone.”
White also believes that Justin Hardy will step into the No. 2 receiver position.
“Julio will do a good job with him and get him coached up,” White said. “He’ll get him ready to play. He’ll be a better football player than he was last year when he was a rookie. Rookies always hit bumps in the road. But I think this year will be different because he’ll be starting. He’ll get an opportunity to get out there every day. He should be primed and ready to go.”
White said he plans to play two more seasons. His release made him a free agent and is hoping to catch on with a Super Bowl contender.
“If those teams are going to offer me a chance to come out there and play football, I’m going to go and play, ” White said. “Any team that I feel like is a title contender and I feel like I can go up there and help them win, I’m going to do that first before I play with somebody else who’s (not) in that position yet.”
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