When the 2015 NFL season began, Dwight Freeney was a man without a team.
The 35-year-old was coming off a season in which he tallied 3.5 sacks in 16 games for the San Diego Chargers, which no doubt helped keep demand for his services down. At the same time, the veteran was also not going to sign with just any team, preferring instead to land with a contender if he was to play another season.
As the story goes, Freeney signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals in mid-October, and went on to record a team-leading eight sacks to go along with eight QB pressures and seven QB hits in 11 games with the team. He added another sack, four QB pressures and one QB hit in two playoff games, and in the process showed he still had something left in the tank.
After the Cardinals were eliminated in the NFC Championship Game, Freeney reflected on the season and admitted he was not sure if he would continue his career next season.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I like to give it like a month or so to really kind of like let whatever emotions kind of die down, whether angry or whatever, and try to make that decision, what’s best for me and my family.”
If the linebacker decides he’s not done just yet, according to Sam Monson in an ESPN Insider piece, he will be one of the top 10 sleeper free agents for 2016.
Believe it or not, Freeney’s spin move still has juice. About to turn 36, Feeney is a short-term rental for somebody, but if your team is struggling to generate pressure on defense, Freeney is well capable of playing 300-plus snaps and providing a guaranteed level of pressure. He had 36 pressures in just 264 snaps this season.
When discussing his future last month, Freeney said Arizona is “like another home for me,” and noted how if he does return, he would like to be back with the Cardinals. But, the veteran of 14 NFL seasons played with three different teams understands that it is possible if he does play, it will have to be with a different team.
If it comes to that, though, then the future Hall of Famer with 119.5 career sacks to his credit could end up providing good value for a team looking for a pass rusher as well as veteran leadership.
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- New Cardinals OL coach Ray Brown brings passion, experience
- ESPN’s Sando: Cardinals’ situation might not rule out hefty Cousins’ price
- McCoy, Leftwich provide insight on desirable traits for new QB
- NFL.com’s Rosenthal: Cardinals’ Mathieu a trade candidate to watch