At the beginning of training camp, Falcons owner Arthur Blank promised Devonta Freeman that he would get a big extension done. Blank came through Wednesday by making Freeman the highest-paid running back in the NFL.
"We are very pleased that we were able to get this extension done," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement. "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."
According to NFL.com, Freeman has agreed to terms on a five-year, $41.25 million extension that will pay him an average of $8.25 million per season. Although Le'Veon Bell will make more in 2017 ($12.1 million), Bell hasn't signed his franchise tender yet, which means he's technically unemployed, making Freeman the league's highest-paid running back.
When Bell signs, Freeman will be the highest-paid back on a multiyear deal. Although Freeman will only be the second highest-paid back when Bell signs, he's likely more than happy with his new deal, which will give him a substantial raise.
Under terms of his rookie contract, the running back was only scheduled to make $1.797 million in 2017. With his new deal, Freeman will be getting that same salary in 2017, but he'll also be getting a $15 million signing bonus. The new contract will keep Freeman in Atlanta through the 2022 season.
"This is where I've always wanted to be," Freeman said. "I want to thank Mr. Blank, Thomas and Coach [Dan] Quinn for all of their support. I feel extremely blessed, but the work and grind are just beginning."
Freeman felt pretty confident about getting a new deal done after having a conversation with Blank following the team's second day of training camp.
"He just was like he's going to take care of me and stuff like that," Freeman said in late July. "He was like, 'It's a process. The whole thing is a process. Take it one day at a time.' I've been talking to Arthur Blank -- I call him A.B. -- I've been talking to him about the whole contract situation. That's my guy. We text. We talk. That's why I try to tell the media we have an understanding. As long as we have an understanding, everything is going to be all right and everything is going to take care of itself."
Since being selected by the Falcons during the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Freeman has been a weapon for the team. In three seasons, the running back has rushed for 2,383 yards and 23 touchdowns.
The dual threat has also been one of Matt Ryan's favorite targets out of the backfield catching 157 passes for 1,265 yards and six touchdowns over the past three years.
Freeman played a pivotal part in the Falcons' run to the Super Bowl in 2016, rushing for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns.