If the Colts switch to a 3-4 front – a transition that could be dicey given their defensive personnel, but one with which new coach Chuck Pagano is most familiar – Mathis and Freeney are poor fits. Neither has the bulk to play 3-4 end, and neither has played much in space, so the conversion to 3-4 linebacker would be tough.
Indianapolis could reduce Freeney’s cap hit with an extension, but he’s going to be 32 later this month, and how much can a club commit to a player of that vintage, and one who might not fit very snugly with future plans?
There are at least two teams, Miami and Buffalo, switching to the 4-3 in 2012, and both will need ends. Many pro scouts in the league feel that Mathis, who will be 31 in about 2 1/2 weeks, had a stronger performance than did Freeney in 2011. Mathis had 9.5 sacks, his eighth season in a row with at least seven.