BOSTON (CBS) — The Colts said farewell to a future Hall of Famer this week, but they could be ready to part with another perennial Pro Bowler as well.
According to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Colts are fielding calls for defensive end Dwight Freeney, whose cap hit is $19 million this year. Might one of those interested callers be the Patriots?
The likeliest answer is no, as Bill Belichick has acquired exactly one big-time player via trade (Wes Welker) and wouldn’t seem likely to jump into the Freeney ring. Andre Carter is under contract for another season, provided he doesn’t opt for retirement, and the Pats essentially swung and missed on their big-name signing of Shaun Ellis at the position last offseason. It’s never been Bill’s MO to splurge on a defensive superstar, again evidenced by the big-money signing of Adalius Thomas.
Still, if the Colts are willing to part with Freeney (and his massive cap hit) for a low draft pick, simply for the sake of shedding salary, the Pats would have to be at least a little bit interested. In terms of press conference praise from Belichick and Tom Brady, Freeney’s not quite at Ed Reed’s level … but he is close.
This year, upon arriving in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl, Brady expressed relief that he for once wasn’t playing the Colts in Indy.
“To come to Indianapolis and not play him is a relief for me,” Brady said of Freeney, the author of 102 sacks in his 10-year career. “He’s terrorized me plenty of times. I’ll be terrorized by some others.”
That was the second time Brady had talked about Freeney last season.
“I wish [Freeney] was out this week,” Brady said back in November. “He’s a phenomenal player. If I could be a defensive end, I’d be like him. And Robert Mathis on the other side — both of those guys can really wreak havoc [with] strip sacks. Coach [Belichick] said this morning that I think Freeney’s got like 99 career sacks and 43 forced fumbles. So almost half the time he sacks you, he strips the ball from you. He’s a great player.”
That was the same week when Belichick took offense to a reporter’s suggestion that the winless Colts wouldn’t be a good barometer for how well his own team was playing.
“You don’t think you can gauge a team based on how a player blocks Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis?” Belichick asked the reporter. “I mean, who else would you gauge it against? Are you kidding me? … I don’t care what their record is. You think there’s … better pass rushers than Freeney and Mathis? I’m not sure what games you’re watching here.”
In 2009, after saying Reggie Wayne was the toughest receiver they faced every year, Belichick called Freeney “the defensive equivalent to Reggie Wayne.”
All the way back in ’05, Belichick offered his only suggestion on how to slow the defensive end down.
“Put a ball and chain on him. That would slow him down,” Belichick said. “He has great quickness and a real good counter move. If you jump out to get him, he comes inside. He surprisingly has enough power. He has a great repertoire of rushes. He has a great motor and is never out of the play.”
Of course, Freeney is hardly the only player to receive praise from Belichick, Brady and Co., but if he is out there to be had for, say, a couple of second- or third-round picks? He’d have to be considered.