Dwight Freeney would like to play for Arizona Cardinals in 2016
Shortly after the Arizona Cardinals’ season ended following a 49-15 loss to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game, veteran linebacker Dwight Freeney spoke about his future as if he was not sure if he still had one in the NFL.
Set to become a free agent, the then-35-year-old was not sure if he planned on returning for a 15th season.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said at the time. “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.”
It has been a little more than one month since then, and Freeney’s future has become a little more clear. While he’s still a free agent, he told “Late Hits” on SiriusXM Radio he is not done yet.
Freeney was discussing how he wanted to play last season but was searching for the right fit, and he told the story about how he was about one week away from retiring when the Cardinals called in October. It was difficult, he said, staying in football shape without being around a team.
“Obviously I’m used to going in there, talking like August, you know, around training camp, and I actually signed in like October,” he said. “So, this year, hopefully we can come to an agreement with the Cardinals, but they have to see what they need to do too. I understand this business, man. It’s a young man’s game and they want to figure out what they need to do.
“I’m here if they need me. If not, I would love to play somewhere else, too.”
Despite being signed prior to Arizona’s Week 6 matchup with Pittsburgh, Freeney led the Cardinals with eight sacks. He also notched eight QB pressures and seven QB hits. His strip-sack of Teddy Bridgewater in the final minute preserved a big late-season win over Minnesota, and he provided leadership in the locker room, too.
As for whether or not the Cardinals are interested in bringing Freeney back, it likely depends on what transpires the rest of the offseason. The team, in search of pass rushers, has already missed out on potential targets Jason Pierre-Paul, Tamba Hali and Bruce Irvin, and was seemingly priced out of the market for Olivier Vernon.
Freeney, a future Hall of Famer with 119.5 career sacks, would not be a bad fallback option.
If the Cardinals are unable to land a younger pass rusher, it would not be a shock to see the team reach out to the 36-year-old Freeney, who showed last season he still has something to offer a team.
And now, we know he would like to do just that.