Blank 'very confident' Freeman deal will come soon


Devonta Freeman's quest to be "elite paid" will eventually end. According to Falcons owner Arthur Blank, it's not a matter of if an extension is reached, but when -- and "when" may be sooner than we think.

"I feel very confident that we'll be able to work out something with him for a long-term solution fairly soon, I think. It's just a matter of time," Blank told WZGC-FM in Atlanta on Monday. "You can't do all these big deals all at once. Not even for financial reasons, but they take time. Each one takes a fair amount of work from a research standpoint. There's a lot of up-and-back. I think the relationship we have with the player is critical. It was with Desmond [Trufant], it'll definitely be that way with Devonta and it'll be that way in the future with any of our other players as they come up."

Blank was effusive in his praise of the fourth-year running back, who is coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and a Super Bowl appearance.

"[Freeman] is the kind of person you want to have on your team for all the right reasons," Blank gushed. "He's a great player. He's a great individual. He cares about community. He cares about his teammates. He's very responsive to coaching. There's nothing about Devonta that I don't love. And I know that [general manager] Thomas [Dimitroff] is working hard with him and his agent."

The owner's messaging here is consistent with both sides' attitudes from the get-go. Before Atlanta's Super Bowl defeat, Freeman's agent told NFL Network's Mike Silver that his client wanted to be paid "like the elite back he is." In May, Dimitroff expressed confidence that a long-term extension with Freeman would be reached, saying, "We want him to be around for years to come and we're confident that we'll be able to get it done." During organized team activities, Freeman had no worries and suggested he was "about to be blessed" with a new deal.

Long story short, negotiations appear to be going well above the surface with both Atlanta and Freeman's reps playing footsy in the press and expressing optimism at an inevitable fruitful compromise. Of course, this could all be tactical lip service. As training camp nears and pressure increases to strike a deal that elevates Freeman's salary past the $1.8 million he's owed this season, we'll see if the Falcons brass can stay true to their word and turn their compliments into cash.