Falcons release running back Devonta Freeman 

Freeman, 27, was selected by the Falcons in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft and developed into a two-time Pro Bowler for Atlanta. The decision to part ways with Freeman opens the door for someone to step into the lead back role as the Falcons approach free agency.

"Certainly would like to thank Devonta for six great years with our organization," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "He's been a solid member of our team, both on and off the field."

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Freeman signed a five-year contract extension with the Falcons prior to the 2017 season, but injuries impacted his production in that time. He missed all but two games during the 2018 season, and although he started 14 games in 2019, he averaged 3.6 yards per carry.

Beginning in 2015, Freeman emerged as one of the NFL's most versatile running backs. A punishing runner between the tackles, and a jitterbug out in space, Freeman had three-straight seasons with at least 1,000 total yards from 2015-17. Freeman became one of the most dangerous players on the Falcons' outstanding 2016 offense that featured the fifth-most productive run game in the league.

In six seasons with the Falcons, Freeman carried the ball 951 times for 3,972 yards and 32 touchdowns. He also caught 257 passes for 2,015 yards and 11 touchdowns. Freeman's 5,987 yards from scrimmage are the 10th-most in Falcons history.

Atlanta's running back group looked to contain both depth and talent entering the 2019 season, but that didn't exactly lead to production. The Falcons averaged 85.1 rushing yards per game, which were the third-least in the league.

Freeman led the way with 656 rushing yards last season, and Brian Hill finished second behind him with 323 yards and two touchdowns on 78 carries. Ito Smith entered the season as the team's No. 2 running back, but he missed half of the season after going on injured reserve. Rookie Qadree Ollison also carved out a role as the team's goal-line running back.

None of the running backs remaining on Atlanta's roster have much experience carrying a full load as a starting running back at the NFL level. Smith has had double-digit carries in three career games, and Hill has double-digit carries in two career games.

It remains to be seen whether or not the Falcons believe one of the backs currently on the team's roster is capable of taking over the starting role and entirely possible Atlanta looks to add to the position in free agency or the draft.

Free agency will begin at 4 p.m. ET on March 18, which is the start of the league's new year. The NFL Draft will take place from April 23-25, and the Falcons currently hold the No. 16 pick. To see all of the Falcons' picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, click here.

Before heading into the 2020 NFL year, we are going to look back at the best images from players on the active roster. Take a look at the best of running back Devonta Freeman.

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