The 2015 Canadian Football League season just recently began, and it's some football to watch until the NFL returns. The Indianapolis Colts have actually signed several players from the CFL recently, such as wide receiver Duron Carter and offensive lineman Ben Heenan this offseason and linebacker Henoc Muamba last year. Their most successful CFL signing, however, was one of the earliest moves made by general manager Ryan Grigson and has turned into a three-year starter for the Colts. And entering 2015, inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman figures to retain that starting spot for a fourth straight season.
Since being signed in 2012, Freeman has started 44 games at inside linebacker and has recorded 366 tackles, nine sacks, 14 passes defensed, three interceptions (one touchdown), eight forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. In each of his first two seasons, he led the Colts in tackles, while in 2014 he finished second (despite missing four games due to injury). Freeman was a restricted free agent this offseason and the Colts extended a second-round tender to him, meaning that he will be playing under a one-year, $2.356 million contract this year (per Spotrac). He initially wanted a new deal, but he'll be playing under that number in 2015.
Freeman isn't great and he does have faults, but he's the best inside linebacker that the Colts have and is very familiar with the system they run and has been a consistent player for the defense for the past few years. Freeman is at his best when defending against the pass, and his coverage skills are pretty good for an inside linebacker. In many ways, he's a nice compliment for D'Qwell Jackson, who struggles mightily against the pass but who does a pretty good job against the run. Freeman and Jackson are beyond any doubt the frontrunners to win the starting inside linebacker positions this year, and then players like Nate Irving could step in and help out in situational roles as depth players. But it appears as if the Colts will have the same starting duo at inside linebacker as they did last year, and for Jerrell Freeman he will enter his fourth straight season as the Colts' starter. Whether or not that extends any further past this season could depend significantly on how this year goes, but so far, Freeman has proven himself to be a solid player who can help the team.