November 8, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (93) rushes during the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Indianapolis Colts defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Is Dwight Freeney "The Solution"? Is He Affordable?

BoltFam, you all know what the story is all about: Melvin Ingram has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee yesterday; it was only the second day of the Bolts´ OTAs this offseason. If the ACL is torn completely and surgery is needed, then he´s definitely is out for the entire season 2013.

Injuries do happen on a regular basis in this sport, but this right here is a tough one. If we want to try to see at least some kind of “fortunateness” in this tragic incident, then it would be the timing. It surely would be more painful if this would´ve happened e.g. in the last pre-season game (damn… something like this still can happen…ugh!…creepy thoughts – get out of my head!…).

So, at this point we may still got a chance to fill that hole and find a replacement for the young pass rusher of whom we had high expectations for this season. When going through the available free agent linebackers, its obvious that list lacks depth. If we´d run a 4-3 defense we would have more options right now, but we surely will experience a 3-4 base defense in 2013 again. I guess nobody wants to hear about a name like Bryan Thomas here (injuries, surgeries, charged for a second domestic violence incident in less than six months etc.). He may will retire anyway, so forget that guy. John Abraham is a guy that would be available too; but that doesn´t necessarily mean the 35-year old defensive end would be a good fit for the Chargers.

But there´s one name the whole BoltNation seems to talk about right now – and that name is Dwight Freeney. But is he really the “savior” for the Bolts in their current situation? Lets take a quick look at the 33-year old veteran.

Freeney was selected 11th overall in the 2002 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts and stayed with the team ever since. He has made it to the Pro-Bowl seven times and he earned three first-team All-Pro honors. He was able to record 107.5 sacks over the past 11 years, but with only five sacks in 2012, Freeney is not coming off a very successful season. He was bothered by an ankle injury and had to transition into a 3-4 defensive scheme for the first time in his career. He definitely wasn’t at his best in those 3-4 defenses the Colts used last season. But desperate times call for desperate measures; we´d have to pray and hope he´d do better in the scheme in San Diego. But after all its safe to say that the veteran has been a very consistent part on the Colts´ defense especially in his early years.

But that leads us to the next point – the financial aspect, i.e. what´s the price for the former Colt? Well, according to sources – e.g. Denver Post – he´s demanding $8.5 million over 2 years.

He reportedly started out asking for $8 million a year in free agency from the Denver Broncos, who needed to replace Elvis Dumervil due to that weird and embarrassing “Fax-Gate” saga; so he already lowered his asking price. Talking about Elvis Dumervil…he signed a five-year, $26 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens, with nine million in incentives that could make it a five-year, $35 million deal. And to make another comparism: Paul Kruger, outside linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens from 2009 to 2012, signed a five-year, $41 million deal with the Cleveland Browns this offseason. Thank god, we don´t have to deal which such bulky price tags.

If we want to get Dwight Freeney on board, then we might have to cut some guys from the roster. With the selection of wide receiver (and kick returner) Kennan Allen in the third round of this years´ draft, Eddie Royal became expendable (if he wasn´t already). He´s set to be a $4.5 million cap hit in 2013 and his release would free up $1.5 million in cap space. Jeromey Clary, who seems to go through some kind of “resurrection” with his (possible) transition from right tackle to right guard, is set to be a $5.7 million cap hit and his release would add $2.3 million to the existing cap space. Cutting Charlie Whitehurst would save another $1.3 million that could be used on a free agent.

And not to forget, the June 1 designation that came with Jared Gaither´s release in March! I.e. the team exercised an option that spreads the $6 million dead money impact over two years. As of June 1, Big Lazy will then cost only $2 million against the 2013 salary cap. In 2014, the remaining $4 million of Gaither’s prorated bonus will count in dead money.

So, it looks like Tom Telesco would be able to create enough cap space to get Freeney on board, but his (minor) injury issues and his struggles in the 3-4 defense scheme last year definitely are concerns (considering the possible big-time money he´d get). But to say it again: desperate times call for desperate measures. Maybe Telesco´s familiarity with Dwight Freeney from their time together in Indianapolis, helps him to get the deal done at a lower price tag.

If he will be too expensive, then the Chargers might have to turn to John Abraham. But there´s no guarantee that the former Falcon would come in at a cheaper price than the Colts’ all-time sack leader. If he´s also not affordable for the Bolts, then I quickly want to throw the name Clark Haggans in here. The former long-time Steeler was with the San Francisco 49ers last year and is currently a free agent. But of course the 36-year old veteran would be nothing more than an addition for depth purpose. He also had shoulder issues and was suspended for three games due to a DUI arrest; but I thought he´s worth a consideration here.

In the end it might also be a possibility that none of these guys will wear a Lightning Bolts uniform next season. Then we would have to get along with the player personnel we already got on the roster…maybe we´ll have to discuss those names in a separate piece as well.

Thank you for reading and feel free to share your thoughts about this whole situation in the comments section below.



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  • Julien Bélair

    don’t care we need him.

  • James P Derrick

    I think they should role with who they have now…It’s not like they are trying to make a Superbowl run this year…..
    We need to see what they have in Tourek and English….
    I hate how one player can make or break a team like Manning did when he was out with the Colts….

    • MC Boltman

      Surely will be interesting how the UDFAs gonna develop in training camp…they pretty “have to” make the final roster…

      • James P Derrick

        Yup, I just think if TT and Co. wanna go youth movement mode, then go for it all in…
        What’s the worst that can happen? High Draft Pick Position next year?
        Let’s see who of the players the team has now is HUNGRY to be the man…

        • MC Boltman

          Yeh, well they went after McKinnie, Starks and now Freeney. This means, they surely want to make the team younger, but at the same time they also wanna win games next season…and to be honest, I want that too. Don´t wanna be dead last in the AFC West.

          But i´ve to agree, wouldn´t like to spend big-time money. After all I really got trust in Telesco & McCoy. They did pretty well to this point and I think they´ll make the right decisions also in this case. Thanx for ur comments #boltup

  • Peter Thompson

    This situation is gonna sting a little bit.. I can feel it. I mean, there is always a possibility that we pick up somebody who gets cut later on… hopefully someone who has so many good pass rushers that they are forced to let one go. That doesn’t sound like a great option at all.. but, I guess TT HAS been going with the youth movement.

    • MC Boltman

      Interesting comment…it would surely be a risk to not go for Freeney at this point, but maybe there will be a chance later on at a cheaper price tag…maybe…we´ll see

      • Peter Thompson

        If people thought gambling on the DX situation was crazy, then people will REALLY think gambling on that scenario would be insane! Maybe TT can pull it off twice? Wishful thinking, really.

  • Moose

    Give Larry the chance to step up. I think he deserves a shot to prove himself (he F’ing better!!) and its not like Melv’s stats were off the charts last season. Yes I was excited for a potential break out year from Melvin… But I also think we roll with what we got

    If we can bring in a vet for significantly less the Freeny’s asking price, then yes let’s add depth. But no point in spending big money in a ‘rebuilding’ year.

    • joerockt

      You know, its not like LE hasn’t had his chances as the dude has been here for 4 seasons already. He’s had plenty of shots to prove himself. He’s a middle of the road player who’s prone to injury, and that’s it. He would be a huge downgrade from Ingram, and much less SP.

      And I don’t see this as a rebuilding year at all. We’re potential contenders every year with Phillip at the helm. The ship is more or less intact, the Captain is new. We just need to hope he can steer the ship better.

  • Will

    Is it possible financially to get Starks and freeney?

    • MC Boltman

      Only if we cut some guys…currently we ain´t got enough cap space (as I´ve mentioned in the article, this will change on June 1…but still we would have to cut some guys).

  • joerockt

    So yet another vet FA with lots of leverage who will probably get pretty close to what he’s asking. If I’ve got the cap number right, we have $5.57 million, so that would be enough to sign Freeny, but not Starks without cutting some guys like you mentioned.

    Soooo, is it now time to ask Rivers to restructure?

    • Stefanie Smith

      But doesn’t June 1, give us a little more room, when the Gaither release actually takes effect? Or did you figure that in already? I heard that Freeney wants a ton of cash, which is why the Broncos did not sign him.

      Also, if you notice, when the team is not a contender they end up paying more. Why? I have no clue.

      And Rivers will only restructure, as most of these types of deals go, if he has an extension (like Romo, not necessarily Romo money) and guarantees. Not likely to happen, as TT and McCoy don’t know him. He’s not their guy, so until he shows them what he is capable of—no, they probably won’t ask for a restructuring because they would not likely be willing (at this time) to give over what would be required.

      • joerockt

        Very good points. I would say a vet would take less knowing they are playing for a contender and will have a shot at a ring.

      • MC Boltman

        I agree, good points on the restructuring thing…

    • MC Boltman

      Well its tough to talk about the available cap space at this point, as Fluker hasn´t signed yet, and the most of the salary caps of the drafted as well as free agent guys aren´t included yet…and its hard to find numbers that are really updated. Restructuring Rivers´ contract would´ve been a good idea already months ago.

      • Stefanie Smith

        Very good point, Boltman.

  • scott stevens

    Come on Annie, stupid question!

    No choice, have to! What happened to our cap wiz White, we have one of the weaker rosters, yet have limited cap room? Denver, signs Peyton, better roster than us and continues to have cap flexibility. I blame White and ownership on mismanaging our roster!

  • Alter Ego

    I think we pass on Freeny. $$$$ being an obvious reason but his ability to succeed in the 3/4 defense – or lack of – is a tremendous gamble(previous GM liked to gamble).
    We drafted and picked our players for the scheme we run…to panic now restricts and ties our hands to develope players that would be a better overall fit with all things considered.
    TT’s Colts defense last year looked like they were headed for one continous beatdown on paper …didn’t happen. Went 11-5 I think.
    A multi million $$ single year contract that impacts our ability to make roster decisions based on $ and not ability is likend to betting your whole paycheck on powerball tonight. Just a swing and miss in logic.
    We are going to play our scheme of football based on the talented coaches we have to teach it. Case in point – name the starting defensive players for the Patriots last year…nothing about them was fantastic…but they win. Bill knows not to rob Peter to pay Paul – he just coaches them up across all three phases of the game.
    Lets do that. Their will be plenty of talented, hungry, game shape ready, affordable, good scheme fit players available looking for a job before the season starts. Lets not bet the farm on a maybe on day three of OTAs.

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