Devonta Freeman has been named one of five finalists for the ninth annual Top Value Performer award, which is basically a nice way of saying he’s underpaid. Perhaps the Atlanta Falcons’ second-year running back should nudge management for a new contract?
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to have the best offseason I can have,” Freeman said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “At the end of the day, God got everything written. It’s just God preparing me for what’s about to come. Whatever happens, happens. I know God’s got my best interests. All I can do is control what I can control and laugh and smile and have fun with the game of football. That’s all I want to do is play football.”
Freeman, 23, actually began the year as Atlanta’s backup but wound up rushing 264 times for 1,061 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 73 balls for 578 yards and three touchdowns.
“It’s definitely one of those things that fills your body up with so much fire,” Freeman said of being a backup. “When you get your opportunity, you got to just explode. I was down a little bit. I’m not even going to lie. I was down a little because I have really high expectations for myself and I set a lot of goals. At the beginning of the season, it was very hard for me to feel like I was going to accomplish those goals that I had. So now I just took it like you never know what’ll happen. Whenever I get my opportunity, I just made the best of the opportunity. I had to just be patient.”
Falcons fans, meanwhile, probably ran out of patience as the year went on. After going 10-22 over the last two seasons, Atlanta started 5-0 under new head coach Dan Quinn.
Then the Falcons lost seven of eight, including six straight, to finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs.
“It’s just like life: You’re going to have highs ad lows,” Freeman said. “One thing I feel like you always remember and learn (from) is the lows. I feel like every time we lost a game, we really beat ourselves. One time, I feel like the Carolina Panthers really beat us. Everybody else, we beat ourselves in the red zone, turning the ball over, not having high regard of the football. It was all on us. We always lost the game by a touchdown, three points, one point – except that Carolina game. But every game we lost, we definitely learned from it. We will get better going into the 2016 season.”
Until then, Freeman, a former fourth-round pick, will enjoy his first Pro Bowl selection.
“It means everything,” Freeman said. “It just shows my hard work. One thing I know is hard work don’t go unnoticed. It’s all grind, no luck. It means a lot, but I feel like the sky’s the limit. It’s only the beginning for me.”