Where is the best landing spot for Devonta Freeman?

Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

With Todd Gurley going to the Atlanta Falcons, Devonta Freeman will not be returning to his former team. Where is the best spot for him in free agency?

Todd Gurley‘s arrival ends any notion of Devonta Freeman returning to the Atlanta Falcons.

Freeman was a two-time Pro Bowler during his six seasons in Atlanta. He thrived in Kyle Shanahan’s offense in 2015 and 2016, helping the Dirty Birds reach the Super Bowl in the second year. Atlanta parted ways with him earlier in the week after three straight years of declining production.

However, he can still be a valuable asset in a team’s backfield going forward. What is the best landing spot for Freeman in his free agency?

There are a few teams to consider. For a bargain-basement price, he could essentially swap places with Gurley and join the Los Angeles Rams, but that’s only a pipe dream, as the Rams are in salary cap hell. The Miami Dolphins may want to pair someone with Jordan Howard in the backfield. Though he could complement Howard well, we have to believe Miami will draft somebody instead.

And that leaves three interesting potential landing spots for Freeman: The Detroit Lions, the Houston Texans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All could work, but which one is the best fit for him?

Detroit has a sold running back in Kerryon Johnson on a rookie deal. The former Auburn standout has had his moments, but may never become the bell-cow he was in college. Detroit has struggled to run the football for the last decade. Plus, the Lions need to win now under head coach Matt Patricia. Freeman could reunite with former Atlanta teammate Desmond Trufant in the Motor City.

Detroit may be an option, but so could Houston. Even though Texans head coach Bill O’Brien gave up wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson, Houston may still need another running back to pair with Johnson in the backfield. Perhaps a Johnson/Freeman pairing could do what Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson did for the Texans last year? They won the division with them.

And then there’s the Buccaneers, the undeniably best landing spot for Freeman in his free agency.

Tampa Bay has Ronald Jones on the roster, but he hasn’t lived up to the hype after being drafted out of USC. The Buccaneers have a loaded offense with Tom Brady now running it. Freeman already gave Brady a Super Bowl in 2016, thanks to his elite blocking ability on Dont’a Hightower. He’s a great pass-catcher out of the backfield and someone Bruce Arians would love to have.

In short, Freeman could be Arians’ Tampa Bay equivalent of Johnson when he used to be the Cardinals head coach. Johnson starred in Arians’ final year in Glendale. Schematically, this is a great landing spot for Freeman. He also will play down the road from where he starred in college at Florida State. Freeman will also be charged up to face the Falcons twice a year in the NFC South.

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Even though the Buccaneers might already be the favorites to win the division next season, adding a veteran running back on a team-friendly deal who can do a lot of things like Freeman can could help Tampa Bay on its quest to be the first team to play and win a Super Bowl in its own stadium. While blocking is not his forte, Freeman is as good as any back Brady had in Foxborough.