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Should the Arizona Cardinals Pursue Dwight Freeney?

February 17th, 2013 at 4:36 PM
By Steve Smith

'Dwight Freeney' photo (c) 2010, Jeffrey Beall - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

He was once one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL.

Now he's looking for a job.

The Indianapolis Colts said they would not re-sign veteran Dwight Freeney, making the Colts' career sacks leader now an unrestricted free agent. Should the Arizona Cardinals try and sign him to help their struggling pass rush? 

It's an interesting question. The Cardinals will most likely be running a hybrid defensive scheme with the 3-4 as their base defense. They should then change some fronts from time to time and use the 4-3 alignment when needed under the guidance of new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

Freeney, who turns 33 on Tuesday, has seen his sack totals decline over the last three seasons and never seemed comfortable as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He had only five sacks in 14 games in 2012 after spending the previous 10 years as a defensive end in a 4-3 front. He has 107.5 career sacks, including a personal best 16 in 2004.

But that was a long time ago. Can he help the Red Birds now? First, he'd have to come at the right price so Arizona could fit him under their salary cap. Free agency commences on Mar. 12, and Cardinals management would most likely try and sign him to a one-year deal if they felt he still had a lot of gas left in the tank. That remains to be seen.

Secondly, how would Freeney be used most effectively? His age works against him but if used properly between the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, he might be able to help the Cardinals' mediocre pass rush. The Red Birds finished tied for 11th in the NFL with 38 sacks last season.

It will be interesting to see how new general manger Steve Keim handles this scenario. Should he be aggressive and pursue the seven-time Pro Bowler or should he try and help the pass rush via a trade, the draft or another free agent?

We should know soon enough.

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Tags: Arizona, Arizona Cardinals, Dwight Freeney, Football, NFL, Steve Keim, Todd Bowles

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