10:59 AM ET
- Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer Close
- Covered Bears for seven seasons at Chicago Tribune
- Also worked at Chicago Sun-Times, Fresno Bee
- Honorable mention, Football Writers Association of America for enterprise writing, 2002
"This is coming out of my mouth: I definitely know I'm going to be playing for the Atlanta Falcons," Freeman said. "This is the team I want to play for. I'm almost 100 percent for sure business will be taken care of because we're all in this thing to win and have success."
Freeman, a 2014 fourth-round pick out of Florida State, is entering the final year of his rookie deal. An escalator in his contract means he will make $1.838 million in 2017 rather than the previously scheduled $690,000. But with two Pro Bowl selections, consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons and 27 touchdowns over his past 31 games, Freeman is due for an even higher raise.
"When we talk about contract, we know it's a process," Freeman said. "We're not rushing to get anything done or anything like that. It's something you work hard for and bust your butt for. Of course, anybody wants to get rewarded. But me and my team, we definitely understand it's a process. We understand the cap and the numbers, all the stuff that comes with it.
"On our end, we're just patient. We're just waiting for the right time. God knows my heart. I'm definitely doing this all to take care of my family and help others and even just put my family in a better situation. It's nothing greedy or to be super thirsty like, 'I need this; I need that.' I don't play the game of football for the money. I play the game of football for the love. But fortunately, if you do good in football, you get rewarded very well."
Freeman dismissed a tweet sent by his mentor, Luther Campbell, who implied Wednesday that the Falcons would have to trade the running back based on the re-signing of backup quarterback Matt Schaub and a pending extension for cornerback Desmond Trufant.
Campbell's wife, Kristin, is Freeman's contract agent.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff has said Trufant will be the next player to secure a lucrative contract extension, although the exact timing for that deal remains unclear.
During Super Bowl week, an NFL.com story surfaced about Freeman's desire for a new contract. Kristin Campbell said in the story that she wanted Freeman to be paid like an "elite" running back.
The timing of the story didn't sit well with the Falcons, but the situation was handled. Dimitroff told ESPN's Adam Schefter during a podcast last week that the story wasn't the distraction it was painted to be. Dimitroff said at the NFL scouting combine that he had a couple of productive talks with Kristin Campbell after the original story was published.
Dimitroff made clear his feelings about Freeman's status during Super Bowl week.
"Devonta obviously is a very good football player," Dimitroff said. "We want him to be here with us, and we are going to address that in the offseason, which is what we should. I think we're in a really good spot with a number of players on this team that we're going to look to continue to re-up here. Devonta's one we're going to have that discussion with. We're confident that we're going to have him here for years to come."
Team owner Arthur Blank has expressed similar thoughts.
"We love Devonta," Blank told ESPN during Super Bowl week. "We plan on him being a Falcon for a very long period of time."