White’s new deal gives Falcons tools to re-sign Jones in ’15

Roddy White signed a contract extension on Thursday that will keep him in Atlanta through the 2017 season. He's Atlanta's all-time leading receiver with 685 receptions and 9,436 receiving yards.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA — One half of one of the NFL’s best dynamic duos at wide receiver just locked up a new contract with the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday. Roddy White signed a three-year extension with the team, and is now under contract through the 2017 season.

Since White will turn 33 in November, Thursday’s contract extension likely means he’ll finish his career in Atlanta. With 685 receptions and 9,436 receiving yards in his nine-year career, White is the Falcons’ all-time leader in both categories. Inking a deal that allows him to start and finish his career with the same team is significant, but the really important portion of the extension rests in the financials.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, White’s extension can reach $30 million with escalators, and should pay out $18 million over the next two years. A total of $10 million in the contract is guaranteed.

White’s new deal lays the groundwork for the Falcons to begin preparations for negotiating with fellow wide receiver Julio Jones.

At best, White’s deal keeps him in Atlanta for four more seasons. Harry Douglas, the third member of the Falcons’ receiving corps that gets regular touches, is on a schedule to hit free agency in 2016. There is a chance that of the trio of White, Jones and Douglas, Jones is the only one who has long-term potential with the franchise.

That’s said, Jones is going to garner the lion’s share of the money earmarked to the receiving corps. He may be the only current Falcons receiver that’s on the roster in 2018. Because White’s new deal doesn’t back the Falcons into a corner, fiscally, it gives general manager Thomas Dimitroff plenty of flexibility to get a deal done with Jones.

There’s no timetable on a deal with Jones, and don’t expect anything to happen until after the 2014 season. But that deal will get done, and it’ll be a doozy.

White’s new deal is a win-win for everyone involved. White gets paid to return to the only team he’s known, and he has the security of a contract that should mirror his anticipated remaining longevity in the NFL. The Falcons get wiggle room to open the vault door for Jones, but they also get a receiver in White, who shouldn’t be put out to pasture just yet.

No one should argue that White wasn’t an elite receiver from 2007-2012. He was. He posted six straight seasons with at least 80 catches and 1,110 yards. There arguably wasn’t a better receiver in the NFL at moving the chains during that time span.

White only played 13 games last season. He was slowed by an ankle sprain suffered in Atlanta’s third preseason game, and missed three games between Weeks 6-8 with a knee issue. Although hobbled, White still caught 63 passes for 711 yards last season.

And to prove he still has plenty to offer, to finish the season, White caught 43 passes for 502 yards and two touchdowns over Atlanta’s last five games. That means 68.2 percent of his receptions last season, 70.6 percent of his receiving yards and 66 percent of his touchdowns came in just five games.

Talk about finishing strong.

If healthy, the duo of White and Jones is one of the best in the NFL, arguably the best. White’s contract extension keeps him around through the 2017 season, and gives Atlanta the power to make sure Jones sticks around too.