With the beginning of the league year, the NFL sees two NFC South rivals releasing arguably the best receivers in each franchise’s history. On March 1, the New Orleans Saints released all-time leader in receiving yards and touchdowns scored, Marques Colston. Then, just a day later, the Atlanta Falcons waived the franchise’s all-time leading receiver, Roddy White.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank commented on his franchise’s best receiver following the release, “Roddy is one of the greatest players to ever put on a Falcons uniform, and even more importantly, he is a man of tremendous character that I and my entire family have profound personal affection and respect for.”
White was drafted by the Falcons in 2005 with the 27th overall pick. Over the course of his 11-year career, he has amassed 808 catches for 10,863 total yards while never wearing any colors but red and black.
Colston’s path to success was the polar opposite of White’s, as he was drafted by New Orleans in the seventh round of the 2006 draft, 252nd overall. However, once he touched the NFL turf, Colston never looked back. In 10 years with the gold and black, Colston hauled in 711 catches for 9,759 yards and 72 touchdowns, nine more than White’s career mark.
Upon his release, Colston expressed his gratitude to the Saints organization for his incredible career, “To everyone from the Benson family, the front office, coaches, and the training and equipment staff: It has been a pleasure to be part of a family with so many great people”
And such is life in the NFL. Just as quickly as a team gives you football life, they can take it away just as fast. It is a somewhat amusing coincidence that division rivals would release their best all-time receivers on consecutive days. Wouldn’t it be funny if they were each signed by the opposing team?
But in all seriousness, neither of these moves were surprising. With young receivers like Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead for the Saints and superstar Julio Jones with Atlanta, White and Colston each saw dramatic decreases in targets and receptions from 2014 to 2015. Each wideout also only amassed around 500 yards last season.
With the release of Colston, the Saints were able to shed $3.2 million from the salary cap while the Falcons terminated the final two years on White’s contract, saving them over $2.3 million in space this year.
Colston’s future is uncertain, particularly as he missed the final two games of last season with a chest injury, though White has expressed his desire to continue his NFL career. With a relatively week free agent pool and draft class for wide receivers, White may garner interest from several teams looking to add veteran receiver depth. It will be interesting to see what he has left in the tank to offer a new team for the first time in his career, and maybe have a chance at that elusive Super Bowl run.