Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney will shoot for a 15th season in the NFL, as he is expected to sign a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The longtime Indianapolis Colts defensive end has found new life as a linebacker over the past three seasons, compiling 12 sacks overall with the San Diego Chargers and Orlando Scandrick Jersey Arizona Cardinals.
The Falcons confirmed their plans to sign Freeney via the team’s Twitter account.
Freeney became a free agent at the start of the league year, but seemed like he was content with taking his time deciding where to go for the 2016 season. At 36 years old, Freeney doesn’t have much time left in the NFL, but as a seven-time Pro Bowler who was more productive than anybody predicted he could be a season ago, he knew he had something to offer Randy Gregory Jersey going forward.
Although he does play safety in the Cardinals’ base defense, when the team is operating out of the nickel package, with five defensive backs on the field, Mathieu serves as the nickel cornerback. Last December, prior to Mathieu’s injury, Pro Football Focus noted that he had spent two-thirds of his defensive snaps in a cornerback role. Only a handful of cornerbacks get paid more than what “The Honey Badger” averages on his new extension.
Mathieu’s impact on the Cardinals isn’t just felt on the field. The Amazon Prime series All or Nothing with the Arizona Cardinals demonstrated Mathieu’s importance to the team. Mathieu inspired his teammates constantly, from encouraging John Brown after he overcame dropped balls to score a touchdown, to pumping up his defensive teammates prior to the NFC Championship against the Panthers.
In his 15 games played during the regular season, the safety amassed 89 total combined tackles (80 solo), 17 passes defended, five interceptions and one sack. His pick-six against the San Francisco 49ers marked Mathieu’s first career touchdown as a pro. Pro Football Focus ranked all the cornerbacks in the league in 2015, and Mathieu ranked No. 1 of 119.
In 2013, Mathieu signed a four-year deal worth $3.05 million, including a $265,000 signing bonus. He was set to earn a $675,000 base salary in 2016 along with a $101,407 roster bonus and a $70,000 workout bonus before signing his new deal.
His best season came in 2004 when he had 16 sacks with the Colts. Prior to last season with the Cardinals, he had just 3.5 sacks with the Chargers and last broke double digit sacks in 2010. Nobody expected him to put up eight sacks with the Cardinals, especially given he only played in 11 games with them.