Jerrell Freeman emerged from obscurity to be the Indianapolis Colts' most consistent linebacker over the last four seasons. Now he's finally cashing in.
The Chicago Bears announced they have agreed to a three-year contract with Freeman.
The contract is worth $12 million, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Freeman tweeted about the decision:
Jerrell Freeman @JerrellFreeman
The 💨💨💨 City! #Letseat https://t.co/EikxYHOv2a3/12/2016, 7:35:39 PM
Chicago signing Freeman continues an overhaul of the team's linebacker corps, as it inked Danny Trevathan to a four-year deal Wednesday.
Meet the Biggest Sleeper DB Ready to Tear Up the NFL Combine
Insider Buzz: Cutler Won't Accept Any Trade by Bears, Could Threaten to Retire
Insider Buzz: NFL Won't Rush to Interfere in Revis, Jets Contract Situation
Top Landing Spots for Tony Romo If Released or Traded by Dallas Cowboys
Top Landing Spots for Former New York Giants WR Victor Cruz
Insider Buzz: Redskins Interested in Tony Romo; Could Trade Kirk Cousins
Insider Buzz: Jets Can Get Out of Revis Contract Due to Incident in Pittsburgh
Insider Buzz: Jets Can Get Out of Revis Contract Due to Incident in Pittsburgh
Insider Buzz: QB Mitch Trubisky Is a 'Lock for the Top 5' in 2017 NFL Draft
Insider Buzz: Salary Cap Increase Could Lead to Uptick in Franchise Tag Use
Tim Tebow Gave 75,000 Kids with Special Needs a Night They'll Never Forget
Insider Buzz: Tony Romo Could Retire from NFL to Pursue TV Career
Insider Buzz: Aldon Smith Reinstatement in Jeopardy with Latest Controversy
Insider Buzz: 49ers Open to Keeping Kaepernick but Not at Current Salary
History Will Never Forget New England Patriots 5th Championship in Super Bowl LI
Simms: Blame Falcons' Conservative D, Not Aggressive Offense, for SB LI Collapse
A7FL No-Pads, Full-Contact Football League Claims It's Safer Than the NFL
Gridiron Heights: Patriots Win Super Bowl LI
NFL Comeback Player of the Year Jordy Nelson
Top 5 NFL Interception Leaders of 2016
Insider Buzz: Rams Could Let Trumaine Johnson Walk in Free Agency
Insider Buzz: NFL Being Urged to Decrease TNF Games; Goodell Not Budging
Insider Buzz: Las Vegas Deal Dead, but Raiders Haven't Contacted City of Oakland
Insider Buzz: Belichick Could Pull Out Old Trick to Slow Down Julio Jones in SB
Tale of the Tape: Do Patriots or Falcons Have Advantage in Super Bowl LI?
NFL Award Predictions: Who Will Take Home Hardware at 'Honors' Ceremony?
Why Dion Lewis Will Be Patriots Good Luck Charm in Super Bowl LI
Which Group of Road Graders Will Win Offensive Line of the Year at NFL Honors?
Deflategate to Lady Gaga: Prop Bets That Will Keep You Hooked on Super Bowl LI
Insider Buzz: Patriots Will Move Fast on Garoppolo Trade This Offseason
Insider Buzz: Romo Wants to Face Cowboys in 2017 Season
Can Super Bowl LI Patriots Cement Legacy as Top Team of New England Dynasty Era?
Fake Brady Makes Appearance at Super Bowl 51 Media Day
Insider Buzz: John Elway, Rich McKay Endorsed John Lynch for 49ers GM Job
Insider Buzz: Raiders to Vegas Hits a Snag, Lease Proposal Seen as 'Insulting'
Why One of College Football's Worst Teams Will Be a Winner in Super Bowl LI
Atlanta Falcons X-Factors to Disrupt Patriots Offense in Super Bowl LI
Insider Buzz: 'Unconventional' John Lynch Hire Won't Impact Shanahan to 49ers
Insider Buzz: Teams Take 'Precautions' Before Facing Patriots, Shred Game Plans
NCAA Lacrosse to Super Bowl LI: Patriots WR Chris Hogan's Rise to the Top
Simms in 60: Falcons and Patriots Have Most Creative Offenses, Take Notice NFL
Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa Is Much More Than "The Next Marcus Mariota"
Who Had the Best Attendance in the NFL in 2016?
Insider Buzz: Former Bills Coaches Angry at 'Lazy' Dareus' Criticism of Rex Ryan
Insider Buzz: Spanos Denies Wanting to Move Chargers Back to SD, Won't Sell Team
Insider Buzz: Outgoing Rams Coaching Staff Blames Todd Gurley's Struggles on Him
From College Lacrosse to Super Bowl 51: Chris Hogan's Journey
Insider Buzz: Stanford's Solomon Thomas Looking Like Top-10 Talent
Jackson vs. Garcon: Redskins Are Facing Difficult 2017 Free Agent Decision
Simms' Hidden Truth: Falcons Use of Julio Jones Too Dynamic for NE to Shut Down
Insider Buzz: Chiefs' Chris Ballard Emerging as Favorite for Colts' GM Job
Insider Buzz: 3 Teams Eyeing Free Agent DeSean Jackson If Let Go by Washington
Simms' Hidden Truth: X-Factors for Patriots to Slow Down Explosive Falcons in SB
Insider Buzz: Collins Deal Will Be Baseline for Patriots to Ink Dont'a Hightower
Insider Buzz: Raiders Hope Carr Contract Won't Reset QB Market, No Rush on Deal
Gridiron Heights Episode 20: Roger Goodell Hosts the Griddies
How Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots Rewrote the History Books
Chris Hogan Lived Up to His "7/11" Nickname in Patriots AFC Title Victory
Insider Buzz: CLE & SF Both Landing Spots for Kirk Cousins in Offseason
Simms in 60: Brady's Brilliance Has Made NE Unstoppable Force Heading into SB51
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: TOM BRADY POISED TO MAKE HISTORY WITH PATRIOTS WIN
The Key Player in the AFC Championship Game
Tom Brady Poised to Make History with Victory Over Pittsburgh Steelers
Insider Buzz: Shanahan May Cede Control of Roster to GM; 2 Lead Candidates Emerge
Insider Buzz: Raiders Face Hurdles in Vegas Move; Owners Want Them in Oakland
New England Patriots Have NFL's Ultimate Postseason Home-Field Advantage
Can Home-Field Advantage Help Falcons Close Georgia Dome with NFC Championship?
Simms' Hidden Truth: NE Can Slow Creative PIT Defense with Only 2 WRs on Field
Simms' Hidden Truth: PIT Must Unleash Top Pass-Rushers on NE's Interior Linemen
Insider Buzz: 49ers Expected to Target Kirk Cousins If Shanahan Named Head Coach
Insider Buzz: Packers in Danger of Missing 3 WRs in NFC Championship Game
Simms' Hidden Truth: Seahawks' Simple, Predictable Defense Must Evolve in 2017
Simms' Hidden Truth: Meet Falcons' Secret Stars Crucial to Slowing Aaron Rodgers
Insider Buzz: Kaepernick Era Will End with 49ers; Does Not Fit Shanahan's Offense
Insider Buzz: Kyle Shanahan Expected to Be 49ers' Next HC; Will Pick GM
Expect High-Scoring Showdown in Packers vs. Falcons NFC Title Game
Insider Buzz: McDaniels Could Wait on DET or TEN Jobs to Open Next Offseason
'Fame Can Change Things’: The Story Behind Aaron Rodgers' Family Feud
How Bell, Brown Have Shattered Records on Steelers Historic Playoff Run
Week 19 Episode of Gridiron Heights
Insider Buzz: Colts' Future Unclear After Irsay Meeting with Gruden and Manning
Miller in 60: Shanahan's Brilliant Game Plan Makes ATL Super Bowl Contender
Redemption or Repeat? Breaking Down the 4 Rematches of NFL Divisional Round
Gary Kubiak's Abrupt Departure Suddenly Makes Sense
NFL Draft Live Insider Buzz: Jon Allen and Dalvin Cook Could Slide in NFL Draft
Simms' Hidden Truth: Seahawks Must Dominate in Trenches for Shot at Beating ATL
Insider Buzz: Chargers Will Play at StubHub Center, Moving to Inglewood in 2019
Insider Buzz: Chargers Value Mike Smith's Experience, Impressed in Interview
Insider Buzz: McVay Front-Runner for Rams but Age, Experience Concerns Remain
Expect a Blowout in Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots Playoff Game
Simms' Hidden Truth: Packers Must Go Big to Stop Zeke Elliott, Cowboys Run Game
Can Cowboys' Defense Slow Down Aaron Rodgers and Packers' Offense?
Insider Buzz: Marcel Dareus Got DL Coach Fired; Future with Bills Up in Air
Insider Buzz: Bills Set to Hire Panthers' DC Sean McDermott as Next Head Coach
Former NFL Star Warrick Dunn Built Deshaun Watson's Childhood Home
How Rodgers and Cobb Connected for the Biggest Play of NFL Wild Card Weekend
Insider Buzz: Packers' Eliot Wolf Could Replace GM Ted Thompson This Offseason
Insider Buzz: Broncos and 49ers Top Landing Spots for Kyle Shanahan
Gridiron Heights, Ep. 18: Giants and Justin Beiber Are on a Boat
Historic Offensive Performance Led Steelers to Victory
The Mary Hardin-Baylor product's path is unlike that of many before him. Undrafted after declaring in 2008, he was cut as an undrafted free agent by the Tennessee Titans and then latched on with the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders from 2009-11. He signed with the Colts in a low-risk move in 2012 and then emerged as one of Indy's most consistent defenders.
Freeman has ranked first or second on the Colts in tackles each season since his arrival. He has posted at least 100 tackles in three of four years and started 57 of a possible 64 games.
While Indianapolis wanted to retain him, he made it clear he wanted to test the market. The team chose to offer him an RFA tender last year rather than signing him to a long-term deal, and Freeman wanted to make sure he recouped his maximum possible value.
“You gotta kinda do what’s best for you,” he told SiriusXM. “The team did what was best for them with all their cap issues and all that stuff. I’ve been playing for the league minimum for three years and ended up signing the tender, which was best for the team. Went ahead and signed it, and now I’m in free agency and guess I’ll have to do what’s best for me.”
The logic makes sense. Freeman turns 30 in May. This will likely be the only time in his career he'll be a coveted name on the open market. By hanging out in the CFL for so many years as a diamond in the rough, he lost untold millions; someone with his resume at age 26 likely wouldn't have had trouble finding an eight-figure signing bonus.
As it stands, Freeman is making the best of his career path. He's a stellar wrap-up tackler who excels in underneath coverage, which makes him an extremely valuable piece in today's NFL. Sports Illustrated ranked him the 33rd-best free agent on the market, and SB Nation had him 50th. He was one of the best players remaining on the market after a flurry of moves early on, and getting him at this price will be smart if he continues to perform at a high level.
Age, more than skill, will be the big question here.
Freeman will play under a defensive guru in head coach John Fox for the Bears, which gives him a great chance to be successful in 2016 and beyond.
While Chicago may not be in line to contend in the NFC North right away, Freeman is a key piece who could make the Bears threats by the end of his contract.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!