The Indianapolis Colts officially announced this morning that inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman has signed his restricted free agent tender, meaning that he's officially back for 2015.
The Colts had tendered Freeman, who was a restricted free agent this offseason, with a second round tender, meaning that the Colts would get a second round pick as compensation if he signed with another team. The period for RFAs to sign an offer sheet from another team has come and gone, however, and Freeman was left without a deal, leaving him little choice but to sign the 1-year, $2.35 million deal that the Colts' tender is worth.
Since being signed by the Colts out of the Canadian Football League in 2012, Freeman has been a three-year starter at inside linebacker, starting 44 games and recording 516 tackles, nine sacks, eight forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, three interceptions and 15 passes defensed. In both 2012 and 2013, Freeman led the team in tackles, and then in 2014 he finished second to only D'Qwell Jackson.
The Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder reported last week that Freeman was skipping the first week of the Colts' offseason program because he wanted a new deal, but now that he has signed the Colts' offer it would figure that he will begin working out with his teammates shortly.
His desire for a new deal was understandable, as he'll be a 29-year old free agent linebacker next offseason and wants to get a larger deal, but the $2.35 million that he will get in 2015 is a substantial pay raise for the linebacker and it keeps him with the Colts for at least another year. He's not among the best linebackers in the NFL, but he's absolutely a capable starter who the Colts are surely glad to have back. With Freeman now officially back (not that there was ever much question), the team's starting inside linebacker duo from 2014 will be back together in 2015, with Freeman and D'Qwell Jackson playing inside. Furthermore, the Colts signed Nate Irving in free agency this offseason, and he will likely see quality playing time as well.
For a defense with a lot of question marks, getting Jerrell Freeman back was essential. There was never really much doubt that the inside linebacker would return to the Colts, but now it's official, as he signed his restricted free agent tender.