Is Dwight Freeney “The Solution”? Is He Affordable?


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

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.