Judging Freeney

Clark Judge of CBSsportsline.com weighs in on the necessity for the Colts to sign Dwight Freeney.
http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/story/10239978

Not much new in this story, but I did note today that Len Pasquareli pegged the Colts at about 3+ million under the cap (before signing rookies). Now, those numbers are rarely official, but it does give us all an idea of how important it is to get Freeney signed to a long term deal that can give the team just a tad more wiggle room. There is an undercurrent among some Colts fans to question Freeney’s value due to his reduced number of sacks. Don’t forget that the Colts faced 509 passing plays in 2005. In 2006, they only faced 415. That’s nearly a 20% drop in sacking opportunities. It would have been nearly impossible for Freeney to post the same sack totals. I don’t think he declined, I just think teams changed their game plans to account for him and also took into account that the Colts had horrible linebacking play (yeah, I mean you Gilbert). That is what makes him so valuable. Teams change what they do to avoid him. I look for Freeney to post double digit sacks again this year, and quiet his critics.

Take note as well that Freeney made several signs of good faith to the franchise. He’s a locker room leader, and don’t fool yourself that other players aren’t watching how this plays out. If Polian tries to screw Freeney, it will hurt the Colts in the locker room and their rep around the league. If he ponies up and pays him, it maintains positive cred with the players. Faulk and Edge, who are influential, have complained about Polian’s tactics before, but not signing Freeney to a long term deal after essentially promising him that they would AND after he did and said all the right things could haunt the team in future negotiations. The franchise tag doesn’t sound like a bad deal to me and you, but players HATE it. Keeping guys off of it calms the locker room storms. Let’s hope this deal gets done.

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