Watch: What Question Does Kenjon Barner answer for the Falcons?

It’s difficult to figure out what the Kenjon Barner signing accomplishes for the Falcons.

The Falcons lost a major contributor on offense when running back Tevin Coleman signed a two-year deal to reunite with Kyle Shanahan, his former offensive coordinator, in San Francisco. Coleman not only teamed with Devonta Freeman to form one of the best running back combinations in the NFL he seamlessly took over as primary back last season when Freeman was lost to injury.

The Falcons responded to the loss of Coleman with the signing of running back Kenjon Barner. Well, calling this a response to the Coleman signing wouldn’t be a fair statement. Actually, it’s difficult to figure out what the Barner signing accomplishes for the Falcons.

Last week, knowing that Coleman would be out of the Falcons price range, we looked at some running backs that would be in the Falcons price range if they wanted to bring in someone from outside to replace Coleman. One of those backs, Mike Davis, signed with the Bears last week. It appears though that the Falcons have made up their minds and will be teaming second-year running back Ito Smith with Freeman in 2019.

You can line Barner up with the other backfield candidates that will be in camp but he’s never been particularly effective at that in his six years in the NFL. For the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, Barner has totaled 388 yards and three touchdowns in 96 carries. He’s also only gained 5.9 yards per catch as a receiving target.

If the answer is, this player will kick up the Falcons return game a notch in 2019, the question is not, who is Kenjon Barner? The real answer to that should be, who is Justin Hardy, but the Falcons didn’t sign him to a new contract and he’s now a free agent. Hardy returned 20 punts for a 7.4-yards per return average. Barner averaged 4.1 yards per return last season after he was let go by the Patriots and picked up by the Panthers.

The money terms haven’t been released but figure the Falcons signed Barner for a relatively cheap price. Problem is, if Freeman and Smith goes down, cheap is what they’ll be receiving in return.