Dwight Freeney wants to keep playing football and pressuring quarterbacks.
The 36-year old pass rusher said as much to Cardinals.com's Darren Urban, saying that he'd love to return to the Cardinals "but if it doesn’t work out here, it could be anywhere. It just depends. It has to be a winning team. I’m used to winning."
Freeney also mentioned that, while there's no signing imminent with any team, he'd like to be with a team for training camp rather than sign somewhere later in the season like he did last year. The veteran experienced a career resurgence last season as he signed with Arizona mid-way through the year, racking up eight sacks and three forced fumbles in eleven games (plus he added another sack in the playoffs). He showed that he still had plenty left in the tank to be a situational pass rusher, and he's looking to show that again this year.
That brings us to the Indianapolis Colts, who as we all know, desperately need pass rush help. All offseason, we were mentioning how they needed younger players at the position to develop, and it was thought they might target the area in the draft. Instead, they came away with just a seventh round pick and several undrafted free agents. One or more of those guys (Trevor Bates, Ron Thompson, Curt Maggitt, etc.) might stick around as a developmental project, but that doesn't help as much this year. Now that the draft is over and the Colts didn't grab that young pass rusher, perhaps their attention should turn to a one-year solution, and Freeney is one of the best possible options left if they want to do that.
Freeney and the Colts have quite a history. He racked up 107.5 sacks and 44 forced fumbles during his eleven-year tenure in Indianapolis, racking up seven double-digit sack seasons, making seven Pro Bowls, and being named a three-time first-team All-Pro. It would be very fitting to bring him back and allow him to finish his career in the same place he started it, and it would certainly appeal to a lot of Colts fans.
At the same time, however, Freeney's tenure with the Colts didn't exactly end too well. Freeney wanted to retire as a Colt and said he would have accepted a lower offer (a hometown discount) to return to the Colts in 2013, but they never offered. The fact that the Colts never even offered him a deal offended him, as he said it "cut me deep." To him, it was a clear sign that the Colts thought he was washed up and couldn't play anymore, as it had to have been about more than money if they didn't even offer anything. Because of that history with the Ryan Grigson-era Colts, it is fair to wonder whether Freeney would embrace a return to Indianapolis as much as Colts fans would. It doesn't sound like Freeney has a ton of options right now, however, so perhaps if the Colts came calling he'd take it, but the history between the two sides gives reason to doubt whether such a move would actually happen (for either side).
In short, I absolutely think the Colts should pursue Dwight Freeney. He showed last year that he still could contribute as a situational pass rusher and did so in a 3-4 defense (the Colts let him go in large part because of what they and others saw as a poor scheme fit). Adding him to the mix with Robert Mathis and Trent Cole would give the team a lot of veterans at pass rush, but the hope would be that at least one or two of them would be able to produce at a solid level. It wouldn't be great or league-leading, but it could potentially hold them over until next offseason, when they could again target younger pass rushers. So yes, I think the Colts should absolutely pursue Freeney, but I have real doubts about whether such a reunion will happen.