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Jerrell Freeman "would have loved to stay" with Colts if offer was there

Jerrell Freeman told FOX59's Chris Hagan that he "would have loved to stay" with the Colts if the offer was there, and he told Chicago media that the Colts never made him a free agent offer.

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the Chicago Bears signed inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman to a three-year, $12 million deal.  That deal immediately caused a lot of confusion for Colts fans.

First, it was the question of why the Colts wouldn't have been willing to offer more than that.  Then, after Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson reported that Indy made the same exact offer before free agency began, it was the question of why Freeman wouldn't take the Colts' offer instead.  Then later, Freeman told Chicago media that the Colts never made an offer, hinting that the team was saving the money for Andrew Luck's coming extension.  So what's the truth?

A report from FOX59's Chris Hagan might help clear things up.  He talked with Freeman on Saturday, and the linebacker said that he "would have loved to stay" with the Colts but that there wasn't an offer there.  When asked about it, Hagan then clarified that Freeman was given a contract offer several weeks ago - which would align with Robinson's report - but that it was a "first and final offer."  According to Hagan, "no offer or attempt [was] made after that from Colts." This also coincides with what the Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder mentioned on Saturday afternoon, as he said that once Freeman turned down the Colts' initial offer the team began making plans to move on from him.

In other words, here's the picture that is painted, as best as we can understand it right now: weeks before the new league year began, the Colts made Jerrell Freeman a contract offer that was essentially identical to the three-year, $12 million deal the Bears gave him.  Freeman, thinking he could make more on the open market, declined the offer - nothing abnormal from early contract negotiations.  From there, however, the Colts simply decided to move on from Freeman.  So, when the inside linebacker hit free agency and realized that his market value wasn't as high as he had expected or hoped, the Colts had already essentially moved on from him despite not making a single move in veteran free agency yet.  It's unclear whether the Colts pulled their offer entirely (reports this past week indicated the Colts were still in the picture with Freeman, which would seem to indicate that they still had interest), but Jerrell Freeman said on Saturday that the offer with the Colts wasn't there.

Regardless, from what we know so far it seems that the Colts' handling of the situation was not great, and as a result they're left without one of their best and most productive defenders from the past four seasons.  Especially with Freeman saying he "would have loved to stay" in Indy (something that he has said before, too), it's easy and fair to wonder what happened with the Colts and their offer - was it still on the table, and if so, why didn't Freeman take that to stay in Indy rather than move to Chicago?  These are questions that still cloud the picture, but it seems that, after their initial offer was turned down, the Colts didn't really have much interest in keeping Jerrell Freeman around.  That's a decision that could easily come back to haunt them next season.