Former Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White had an outstanding career with 808 receptions, 10,863 receiving yards, and 63 touchdowns. The Falcons released him after the 2015 season and White has since announced his retirement.
In speaking with ESPN, White said there was just one franchise he would have been willing to play for in 2016: The New England Patriots.
"I wanted to go down there and play for coach [Bill] Belichick," White said. "I think it was 2012, we practiced against them for like a whole a week. I learned a lot just practicing against those guys -- how they conducted their business every day and how they just got ready for practice. Just evaluating their coaching staff and how they handled plays and how Tom Brady went out there and went through things ... you wanted to be a part of that and just be in the building. So many people want to get there with New England. Not just me, but people around the league because they've got something special going on there."
White participated in a joint practice with New England and wanted to join the team, and he claims that “so many people...around the league” feel the same way. We watched a veteran like EDGE Chris Long sign a discount to join the Patriots to win a Super Bowl and it worked out; there have to be dozens of other veterans that want to do the same.
And just how important are joint practices to the Patriots? It gives the Patriots front office a front row seat to watch how players from other franchises practice- and it gives veterans a chance to see a real team in action, serving as great advertisement for when they want to chase a ring.
ESPN reports that White and the Patriots talked about joining forces in 2016, “but the Patriots never extended a contract offer.” The Tennessee Titans, under former Patriots exec Jon Robinson, had an offer out to White, but White declined.
White’s six-year stretch from 2007-12 with 7,773 receiving yards is one of the most productive stretches by a receiver in recent memory. Over the past decade, only Texans WR Andre Johnson, Lions WR Calvin Johnson, and Steelers WR Antonio Brown have generated more yards over a six-year span of time. If we look over the past 20 years, White is also joined by the likes of Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, and Chad Johnson.
That’s pretty incredible near- or lock-Hall of Fame company.
It’s curious that the Patriots haven’t really signed ring chasers on their last legs- like Long or White or Darrelle Revis- this offseason. Instead, the Patriots have invested heavily in young talent. Perhaps we’ll see some of the older veterans signing with New England late in the summer, or maybe they’ll pull a Steven Jackson and sign in the middle of the season.