While he will still be wearing blue, it won't be Colts blue. Freeney today signed a 2-year deal with the San Diego Chargers. Former Colt Tom Telesco is the new GM of the Chargers, so it makes sense for him to have had interest in Freeney after Melvin Ingram tore his ACL this past week. The day after that happened, the Chargers brought Freeney in for a visit, and today they agreed to a deal.
Another thing that likely appealed to Freeney was the fact that the Chargers defensive coordinator is John Pagano, the brother of Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.
Overall, however, this move is puzzling. Freeney transitioned from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker last year and... well, it's safe to say he struggled. He managed to get only 5 sacks, although his impact was much greater than that. The Colts' defense was noticeably better when number 93 was on the field. His season would be average (maybe just barely below average) for the average NFL OLB, but for Freeney it was a disappointment. When the Colts didn't re-sign him this offseason, everyone figured he would go to a team needing a 4-3 DE pass rusher. I thought that he could do quite well in that role, despite his age (33). Instead, he signed with the Chargers - a team running a 3-4 defense.
We don't know what role Freeney will occupy with the Chargers at this point, but it seems likely that he will at least help to fill the void left by Melvin Ingram. He will be a situational pass rusher, but still, his pass rushing skills from a 3-4 weren't what they were in a 4-3. His role will likely be strictly as a pass rusher and not as a 3-down OLB - Tom Telesco will utilize Freeney's biggest strength.
All of that said, however, I think a lot more of his issues last year were due to injuries and age, not the new system. Whether or not he can stay injury free will go a long ways as to how effective he can be (obviously).
Check out some quotes from Bill Polian and Tony Dungy, courtesy of Chris Mortensen via twitter:
Tony Dungy: "I'm not sure (Freeney) is well-suited for a 3-4 team. I think Dwight needs play at right end and as a third-down pass rusher."— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) May 18, 2013
Bill Polian: "There's no question he can fit with that scheme. There are no strict 3-4 defenses, or not many."— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) May 18, 2013
More Polian on Freeney: "You take Dwight, you get his hand on the ground and play him for 30-to-40 snaps, let him get after the quarterback"— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) May 18, 2013
This move raises eyebrows, certainly. But throughout his entire career, Dwight Freeney has never been one to give up and he will work as hard as he can to produce this season. I'm not putting it past him.
Who knows? Maybe he'll even get a sack of Andrew Luck when the Colts visit the Chargers on October 14. And of course, Freeney will get his shot at Peyton Manning after all. The Chargers play the Broncos twice each year. Regardless of whether or not us bloggers and media guys think Freeney will make a big impact or not, I bet both Luck and Manning will be worried about having to face him.