Saturday, the team agreed to terms on a two-year contraact with one of the top sack masters of the last decade in Dwight Freeney, who figures to help fill the pass rushing void left vacant after [Melvin] Ingram's injury.
'It’s great to add a solid veteran who brings valuable experience to our defense,' said Head Coach Mike McCoy. 'His proven pass-rush ability is a perfect fit for our defense.'
Freeney expressed his excitement about joining the Chargers on Twitter:
Source: #Chargers have an agreement in principle for a 2-year deal with Dwight Freeney— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 18, 2013
ESPN's Ed Werder later confirmed the report, courtesy of a quote from Freeney that showed he was in fact San Diego bound.
Text from Dwight Freeney: "I'm excited to start this new chapter with some good people with great potential to do some great things."— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) May 18, 2013
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio provides details on the deal:
Per a source with knowledge of the deal, Freeney’s two-year contract with the Chargers carries a base value of $8.75 million.
The deal pays $5.25 million in 2013, via a $3.25 million signing bonus, $1.5 million in base salary, and a $500,000 roster bonus tied to Freeney’s presence on the weekly 46-man roster.
Freeney is due to earn $3.5 million in 2014, $500,000 of which is linked to weekly roster bonuses.
Freeney, drafted by the Colts No. 11 overall in the 2002 NFL draft, solidified the defensive nucleus of the Colts teams of the past decade.
He went to seven Pro Bowls, was selected to the NFL’s All-Pro first team on three occasions (2004, 2005, 2009) and set the franchise record in sacks (107.5) while playing with Indianapolis over the last 11 seasons.
The 6’1”, 268-pound defender expressed his desire to stay with the team but said he understands that the nature of the business might not make that possible.
The Chargers scooped him up after his worst statistical performance of his career. He was a member of the old guard in Indy, the team that was built by the now-departed Bill Polian.
The writing was on the wall for the 33-year-old when the Colts transitioned to the 3-4 defense during the 2012 offseason. Freeney spent the first 10 years of his career lined up as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme and is more suited for that role.
That much was apparent by his diminished role last season. His attempted transition to outside linebacker didn’t pan out, and he struggled dropping back in coverage when not rushing the passer. He still racked up five sacks in his limited opportunities, but he was nowhere near the dominant force of years past.
The Chargers present an interesting opportunity for Freeney to get back into his groove in the twilight of his career. They’re hoping the aging pass-rusher can regain his double-digit sack form in 2013, but it's still just a short-term deal.
Freeney will get a chance to square off against his old team on Monday Night Football in San Diego on October 14.