Falcons' Devonta Freeman now the NFL's highest-paid running back

FLOWERY BRANCH, GA. - The Atlanta Falcons have agreed to terms with running back Devonta Freeman on a five-year contract extension.

While the Falcons have not released contract details, multiple sources are reporting Freeman's new contract makes him the NFL's highest-paid running back.

The announcement came Wednesday morning.

The Falcons announced that they agreed to a five-year extension with Freeman, that keeps him locked up through the 2022 season. The deal is worth up to $41.25 million and will be tacked onto the final year of his rookie deal, according to USA Today.

Freeman’s new deal makes him the highest-paid running back in the NFL right now, though that’s not expected to last. His per-year salary becomes $8.25 million, which eclipses the $8 million Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy makes each season in his five-year, $40 million contract, which was signed in 2015.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, however, will be due $12.12 million in 2017 whenever he signs his franchise tag tender that was placed on him in late February. Because Bell has not signed the tender, he is not under contract and has been away from the team throughout the offseason workout program and has also been a no-show at training camp thus far.

“We are very pleased that we were able to get this extension done,” General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “Devonta embodies everything we are looking for in a Falcon, and we are proud that he’ll be able to spend his career here in Atlanta.”

During his three seasons with the Falcons, the Miami native has racked up 2,383 rushing yards, including back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons in 2015 and 2016. The last two seasons, Freeman bounced on the scene by becoming a major threat with his ability to not only run, but also to catch out of the backfield and split out wide as a receiver. His 3,175 total yards over the past two seasons ranks second in the NFL, behind his teammate, Julio Jones.

PHOTOS: Devonta Freeman, the NFL's highest-paid running back
 

Last season, Freeman totaled 1,541 total yards – seventh in the NFL – and 13 total touchdowns, which was the fifth most touchdowns in the NFL among running backs. Those numbers helped the former Florida State Seminole earn his second consecutive Pro Bowl selection.

Also, last year Freeman became the ninth Falcon with two seasons of 10-or-more touchdowns. He also is the only player in the NFL over the last two years who has three games with three rushing touchdowns. In 2016, two of his 13 total touchdowns came through the air, moving him to six career receiving touchdowns, which is tied for the fifth most by a running back in franchise history.

“This is where I’ve always wanted to be,” Freeman said. “I want to thank Mr. Blank, Thomas and Coach Quinn for all of their support. I feel extremely blessed, but the work and grind are just beginning.”

Freeman has seven multi-touchdown games for his career, and he’s recorded back-to-back multi-touchdown games twice in his career.

The agreement comes just before Atlanta’s first preseason game of the year, when the Falcons play the Dolphins in Miami on Thursday.

USA Today contributed to this report.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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