Devonta Freeman’s agent, Kristen Campbell, said the offseason talks with the Falcons are going well and distanced herself from Luther Campbell’s tweet suggesting that the Falcons should trade the two-time Pro Bowl running back.
“I have had a conversation with Nick Polk about how the process is going to go,” Campbell said. “That’s where we are.”
Her husband, Luther Campbell, who was a mentor to Freeman while growing up in Miami, tweeted, “Matt Schaub 9 mil Trufant 14 mil no money left for Freeman looking like a Trade to me” on the eve of free agency that started Wednesday.
He later tweeted about several running backs who have been traded over their careers, such as LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray, Marshawn Lynch and Lamar Miller.
Kristen Campbell made it clear that she didn’t want Luther Campbell’s tweets attributed to her or her client.
“You have to ask him about what he tweets,” Campbell said. “I don’t even follow him on social media. I would suggest going to the source because I have not tweeted about anything on or social media about anything … nor do I plan to say anything.”
So, are you asking for a trade?
“I have not said that,” Kristen Campbell said.
Luther Campbell didn’t immedially respond to an interview request.
The Falcons, who are methodically moving through free agency, don’t plan to entertain the notion of trading Freeman.
“(That’s) ridiculous, asserting that we would trade Freeman,” Falcons general manger Thomas Dimtroff told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Freeman was drafted in the fourth round (103rd overall) of the 2014 NFL draft out of Florida State. Much like Russell Wilson did for Seattle, he has out-performed his draft position and is line for a hefty raise.
After a solid rookie season, Freeman rushed for 1,056 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught 73 passes in 2015. Last season, he rushed for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught 54 passes as he helped power the league’s top scoring offense on the way to the Super Bowl.
During Super Bowl week, Kristen Campbell dropped a bombshell on the Falcons.
“It’s time for the Falcons to pay him like the elite back he is,” Campbell told NFL.com. “I expect them to make him a priority this offseason, as he’s been an integral part of the dynamic offence that has gotten them to the Super Bowl.”
The Falcons, perhaps preoccupied with trying to land the franchise’s first Lombardi trophy, let Campbell know that Freeman’s contract would be addressed over the offseason.
The market for running backs is shifting this offseason. Adrian Peterson, who was the top-paid running back, with a contract average of $14 million, was released by Minnesota. Jamaal Charles, who was the second-highest paid running at $9.05 million average, was released by Kansas City.
Freeman’s average is $676,000, which ranks 80th in the league. Freeman is scheduled to make $1.838 million in 2017, the final year of his rookie contract.
“We are in good space,” Dimitroff said of a recent conversation with Kristen Campbell at the combine. He said the sides will talk again at the “appropriate time.”
Kristen Campbell is fine with that, while Luther Campbell may be over-reacting to the early stages of free agency.
Dimitroff has repeatedly stated that the team planned to sign their own free agents this season. Also, under Dimitroff the team has had a history of extending contracts of wanted players near the end of their contract.
It appears that Freeman doesn’t want to go into the last year of his contact without an extension.
One problem for Freeman is that he’s in a time-share situation with Tevin Coleman, who was a third-round pick in 2015.
Freeman discussed his contract situation with NFL media during the Super Bowl week and then claimed it wasn’t a distraction.
“I’ve got a family to feed, and I don’t want to struggle anymore,” Freeman said. “Now, I can see it, feel it, taste it. But I’ve got to finish strong and not think about the money this week — we’ve got too much to play for.
“After that, well, I feel like I’ve done my part. Now, hopefully, I’ll get rewarded.”
Freeman originally signed a four-year rookie deal worth $2.7 million.
The NFL has been slow to reward running backs in recent years.
Washington let Alfred Morris go last season after he rushed for more than 4,700 yards over four seasons. They felt that he could be replaced with another young and cheaper running back.