Of course, Freeney isn’t just any ordinary pass rusher for the franchise, as he’s the Colts 2nd all-time sack leader with 107.5 career sacks.
Not to mention, Freeney was a Super Bowl XLI Champion, 3x 1st-Team All-Pro, 1x 2nd-Team All-Pro, 7x Pro Bowler, AFC Defensive Player of the Year, NFL Sacks Leader, and a member of the NFL 2000s All Decade Team during his 11 seasons in Indianapolis (2002-12).
Now 36 years old, Freeney recorded double-digit sacks in 7 of those aforementioned seasons with the Colts.
However, any potential Freeney signing wouldn’t be purely for sentiment, as the 14-year veteran is coming off a productive season in which he had 8 sacks in 11 games for the Arizona Cardinals.
It goes without saying but the Colts struggled generating a pass rush last season, as the team had just 35 total sacks, which tied for the 22nd worst in the NFL last season.
However, Wells indicates that instead of bringing back Freeney, the team is seeking to develop some of their young pass rushers such as 7th round pick Trevor Bates (Maine), as well as a pair of promising undrafted free agents Curt Maggitt (Tennessee) and Ron Thompson (Syracuse).
The Colts definitely need to get younger on defense, but at the same time, the team has been unsuccessful in developing young pass rushers in the past–highlighted by the failures of former 2013 first round pick Bjoern Werner, who was recently released.
This could simply be another case of wishful thinking.
There’s a reason as to why the Colts are heavily relying once again on 35 year old Robert Mathis to lead their pass rush, as well as 11-year veteran Trent Cole. The team simply hasn’t developed young pass rushers in recent seasons to supplant them.
That’s not to say that these young Colts pass rushers can’t be developed into impact players (Mathis was an unheralded 5th round pick once upon a time after all), but at the same time, the team may be foolish to put all their eggs in one basket when all three pass rushers were late round picks or priority undrafted free agents–i.e. unknowns.
Freeney is a proven commodity, and if nothing else, he’d give the Colts another option to upgrade their pass rush. He’s not the dominant force he once was, but he still can be plenty effective as a situational pass rusher on a limited snap count.
The Colts are taking a bit of a gamble if they opt to simply roll with their young pass rushers in relief of Mathis and Cole. If it pans out, the team’s brass will look like geniuses, but there’s also great risk if it doesn’t work out.