Saints: 3 veterans who need to show something in Week 1 of preseason
By Darral Nail
Saints Veterans Who to Show Something
2. Devonta Freeman
There was a time, though it has been a while, that Devonta Freeman was counted among the NFL’s most dynamic feature backs.
As a member of the rival Atlanta Falcons, Freeman was best known for a two-year stretch (2015-2016) where he was elected to consecutive Pro Bowls, and in particular the 2016 season in which he was the NFL’s leader in rushing touchdowns as well as an All-Pro selection.
While Freeman continued his 1,000-yard rushing pace in the 2017 season, the Falcons came to regret the five-year, $41.25 million contract granted Freeman in advance of that season. 2018 brought a slew of injuries (knee, foot, groin) for the then-highly paid running back, as Freeman would go on to participate in a mere two regular-season games on the year.
The 2019 season brought a return to respectability of sorts for Freeman, as he playd and started in all but two Falcons contests, finishing with 656 rushing yards (3.6 yard average on 184 carries) as well as an impressive 410 yards and a career-high four touchdowns as a receiver out of the backfield.
Nonetheless, Atalanta cut ties with Freeman following the 2019 season, and the then-28-year-old Freeman remained unsigned until the New York Giants came calling with the 2020 season underway. He appeared in five games as a Giant and posted a career-low 3.2 yards-per-carry average during his truncated tenure in the Meadowlands.
If the eight-year veteran is to establish a place for himself as the dynamic complement to Latavius Murray behind Alvin Kamara, Freeman will have to show that he still has enough in the tank to distance himself from the young backs on the Saints’ camp roster.
Perhaps of particular intrigue in this respect is super-sized rookie runner Stevie Scott, who could be of value to the Saints in 2021 if only as a hulking short-yardage option.