FLOWERY BRANCH — Roddy White has every intention of retiring as a career Falcon.
Whether the team chooses to retain him isn’t his call, but White wants to play through the end of his $30 million contract and help open the new stadium in 2017.
“That would be ideal, to walk out of that locker room and come out of the tunnel in the new stadium and play a game there,” White said Wednesday. “That would great.”
Atlanta hasn’t used the four-time Pro Bowl receiver much in its first season under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
Through 15 games, White’s targets are half as many as last year. His number of catches and yards receiving rank just fourth on the team.
“If somebody calls me and tells me that I am no longer a Falcon, then I will evaluate my situation,” White said. “But as of right now, I’m just going to continue to do what I’ve been doing and every offseason will be exactly the same.”
Shanahan’s passing attack is built around quarterback Matt Ryan looking first for star receiver Julio Jones, second for running back Devonta Freeman and third for tight end Jacob Tamme.
That’s a big drop in productivity for White, the NFL’s ninth-leading active receiver.
“It’s been an adjustment because every time (a new coordinator) comes in there’s going to be change,” White said. “My adjustment has been my role to what he wants me to do every Sunday. Just doing what he asks me to do and what he believes I can do in football games.”
Other than missing the playoffs for a third straight year, White said he has no complaints, particularly with his close friend Jones having the third-most productive season in league history.
It’s unlikely that Jones will get 17 catches to surpass Marvin Harrison’s 2002 record when Atlanta (8-7) hosts New Orleans (6-9) on Sunday, but White said his teammate has already established himself “as the best wide receiver in the game.”
“That’s my expectations for him,” White said. “He’s an elite player in this league, a rare talent. We’re going to need him to play like that because he’s special.”
At 34, White doesn’t want to leave the team that drafted him late in the first round of 2005. He first emerged in Atlanta’s only season under coach Bobby Petrino in 2007, then White became Ryan’s go-to receiver when Mike Smith took charge of the Falcons the following year.
White was first-team All-Pro in 2010 and made his last Pro Bowl squad in 2011.
“I have no idea how next year’s going to be,” he said. “So I’m just going to take it in, try to finish as strong as possible, get myself ready to go for next year and whatever happens after that happens.”
The Falcons began the season 6-1 before a six-game losing streak essentially ruined their postseason hopes. They knocked off undefeated Carolina last week — the team’s most impressive victory yet under first-year head coach Dan Quinn — but Atlanta was eliminated later that night when Minnesota beat the New York Giants.
“This week right here is going to be big for us,” White said. “We can go on a three-game winning streak to end the season, which would be good for our team leading into next year. We can definitely learn from this situation.”