Dwight Freeney, San Diego Chargers strike 2-year deal
Freeney will earn a $5.75 million base, comprising of a $3.25 million signing bonus and $1.5 million base salary next season, according to sources. There is more to the deal in the form of a $4.5 million incentive package should Freeney remain on the roster and hit sack thresholds over the next two seasons.
Locking up Freeney became a priority for the Chargers this offseason after former first round pick Melvin Ingram suffered a season-ending knee injury during OTAs this week. The second-year linebacker is expected to undergo knee surgery. Moreover, the Chargers also lost outside linebackers Antwan Barnes and Shaun Philips to the New York Giants and Denver Broncos this offseason, respectively.
San Diego coach Mike McCoy believes Freeney’s addition could be a “great signing” for the team.
"Dwight will help us in a lot of ways. He will help us on the practice field, in the locker room and in the games,” said McCoy. “He's one of the greatest pass-rushers in the NFL so, in that regard alone, the name Freeney speaks for itself."
The 11-year veteran spent his entire NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts. Freeney was immediately being forced into the starting spot during his rookie season and recorded 10 or more sacks during his time with the Colts, including leading the NFL with 16 sacks during 2004. The 33-year-old Freeney set a franchise record with 107.5 sacks in 163 career games for the Indianapolis Colts. Although the Colts wanted him back next season, Freeney refused a contract offer from the team in February.
"I'm excited to start this new chapter with some good people with great potential to do some great things," stated Freeney.
The seven-time Pro Bowler has spent his entire career as a 4-3 defensive end. However, Freeney was moved outside linebacker last season and tallied only five sacks in the Indianapolis Colts’ 3-4 defense. There has been a steady declined in his stats over the past few seasons. The season prior, Freeney registered 19 tackles and 8.5 sacks, which was a drop from his 25 tackles and 10 sacks in 2010. And that too was down from his 13.5 sacks in 2009.
The Chargers also run the 3-4 system, which would initially suggest that Freeney might not be such a good fit in San Diego. However, USA Today reports that the Chargers plan to include some schemes in their system that “would put Freeney in his more natural position as a down lineman."
"He fits what we are going to do with our defense," said McCoy. "I think his role will be defined as we go forward, and he will help define his role."