As you might have seen in recent days, Josh Wilson has written several articles about Dwight Freeney potentially signing with the Colts and he has advocated signing Freeney. Well, I'm going to be jumping on that train.
Why not reunite with the Colts? It's a win-win situation.
Last season, when Freeney was on the field, he was on for one reason: to rush the quarterback. 87% of his snaps came on passing plays. Freeney was only on the field 27% of the time and he had one sack per 40 snaps last season in Arizona.
Freeney would have a similar role with the Colts. He would be a pass rush specialist who plays 25% of the snaps. The Colts need some help at the outside linebacker spot. Robert Mathis, Trent Cole and Erik Walden seem to be the only legitimate players at the position right now, so the Colts need some bodies and talent.
Despite the fact that the positives outweigh the negatives, there are some potential negatives the Colts need to consider. The biggest one relates to his fit in the system. In 2012, he had a tough time adjusting to Pagano's system and was unproductive. He has, however, played in a 3-4 system in the past 3 seasons, so he has probably gotten more accustomed to the system and the differences between a 4-3 and a 3-4.
Another negative the Colts must consider is whether he hinder another player's development. The Colts don't have much young talent at outside linebacker, but one intriguing prospect is Curt Maggitt from Tennessee. He's a talented player with some off the field issues. Let's say the Colts keep Maggitt on the roster because he performs well in training camp and the preseason, he would be the 5th outside linebacker and his development would be hindered by Freeney. It may not be a major issue, but it's still something to consider. This is an issue with many other teams, but not so much with the Colts, since they lack young blood at outside linebacker. It's a point worth raising, but not something the Colts should be concerned about.
Dwight Freeney still has something left in the tank and said recently that he would only want to play for "a winning team". With 41 wins and 3 playoff appearances in the last 4 seasons as well as a healthy Andrew Luck, I'd imagine he would consider the Colts a "winning team".
Supply and demand tells us that if a player is receiving no demand from any team, he would need to lower his asking price in order to secure a contract. Freeney worked on a $970,000 contract last season with the Cardinals. He also had a clause where he could make up to $1,000,000 in incentives. Based on this information and incorporating some microeconomic concepts, I believe that Freeney could sign a $900,000 contract with a $600,000 incentive bonus for sacks.
He got 8 sacks last season on a $685,000 cap hit. That's approximately $85,000 per sack, which stacks well against many outside linebackers in the NFL. Robert Mathis had a 7.47M cap hit and had 7 sacks, which is approximately $1.06M per sack. Mathis is a similar player to Freeney, as the majority of his snaps in 2015 (68%) came on passing plays.
Just having Freeney in the locker room as a mentor and leader would be worth it. Since the Colts lost Cory Redding on defense, there's been a leadership void that needs to be filled. Robert Mathis and D'Qwell Jackson are leaders, but they need another voice on defense. Freeney is a proven leader with a ring. If the Colts intend on being a Super Bowl contender, having the right guys and right voices in the locker room will be key.
I feel this a low risk, high reward type of signing that the Colts like to make. They have done it in the past with many players (Jerrell Freeman, Dwight Lowery, Duron Carter, etc), and while they don't always work out, they never hurt the team financially. Dwight Freeney could have a nice impact as a pass rusher and even if he gives the Colts 5 sacks, that would be a good thing for the Colts defense that desperately needs players who can get to the quarterback.