Fire sale in in Indy? Colts now looking to trade Dwight Freeney
Fresh off creating this week's humongous free agency mega-Lotto by releasing Peyton Manning, Indy is looking to unload another perennial All-Pro veteran. In what would be a salary cap move, the Colts are reportedly looking to trade defensive end Dwight Freeney.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Indianapolis is now taking calls and offers to trade the seven-time Pro Bowler and Colts' all-time leading sack leader.
"The Colts are now open to trading Freeney," Schefter wrote, "but will only do it for what they consider the right price."
Who might have leaked this information to ESPN? Notice the words Schefter uses -- "only... for what they consider the right price". Those are bargaining-upwards words, people. Whomever fed Mr. Schefter this information has an interest in pricing Freeney's trade value upward. It might be fair to speculate that the Indianapolis Colts organization themselves discreetly dropped the information, carefully ensuring that the "right price" terminology was included in the message.
Tight end Dallas Clark and linebacker Gary Brackett also just happen to be mentioned in this report as current Colts with exceptionally high salary cap numbers for 2012. Makes you go hmmmm, indeed.
The Colts, per Schefter, would prefer to not trade Freeney. But he counts $19 million against their 2012 salary cap, and he's reportedly refused to restructure. 2012 is the final year of Freeney's current contract.
Of course, Freeney ain't free. Prospective NFL suitors would have to view him as an expensive $14 million one-year rental for the 2012 season, lest they are able to sign him to a longer-term extension. (Freeney would cost the Colts $5 million more per his bonuses.) He's 32 years old, but still had 8.5 sacks last season and was once again selected to the Pro Bowl.
It's all part of the new rebuilding process in Indy. Show of hands -- who even realized that the Colts had hired Chuck Pagano as their new head coach in January? Pagano and new general manager Ryan Grigson are in the process of rebuilding the franchise in their own image -- as well as the image, of course, of Andrew Luck.
ESPN analyst Cris Carter weighed in on Pagano's defensive overhaul.
"He wants bigger guys on the defense. He wants to probably play a 3-4 defense," Carter said. "So once they extended Robert Mathis, there's only one need for one rush end like that if you're going to play the 3-4. You need a guy who also can drop (into pass coverage)."
Pagano brings to the Colts the 3-4 defense he'd utilized so capably in four seasons as an assistant and then coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens' defense. In this scheme, defensive ends typically stay at home to guard against the run while the linebackers get to do the quarterback-chasing.
Freeney is more a smaller, faster, "tweener" defensive end. He's frankly more effective as a pass rusher than as a run stopper. He doesn't really fit the 3-4 unless he moves to linebacker.
32 years old might be a little late to suddenly move to the linebacking position. But for Freeney, 32 years old might be the perfect time to move to Tennessee, New Orleans, Washington, or New England.