I read an article by Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune where he writes about the youth at the outside linebacker position in San Diego. Former Chargers Jarret Johnson and Dwight Freeney came up often in the article. By the time I finished reading it, I was smacked in the face by how young the position group truly is going into the 2015 season.
The trio of Melvin Ingram, Jerry Attaochu and Tourek Williams was the focus of the piece. Their ages are 26, 22 and 24, respectively. Although all three are aggressively attacking the offseason in an effort to make a bigger impact this year, it is hard to say whether or not all of that hard work will pay off. Ingram has slimmed down from 265 pounds to right around 245 pounds, changing his diet in the process. Attaochu seems to be focused on developing additional pass-rush moves in order to create more pressure. Williams has changed his eating habits, like Ingram. He has also cut his hair for the first time since the third grade.
So how does all of this translate to wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks?
I have no clue at this point.
As I mentioned above, Johnson and Freeney were mentioned frequently in Gehlken’s post. Johnson retired from the NFL this offseason. More than anything, his leadership will be missed considerably. Freeney has been patiently waiting for the right situation as an available free agent. The 35-year-old finished last season with 10 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, one pass defensed and one fumble recovered.
It goes without saying that Freeney will one day be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His 111.5 career sacks rank 20th of all-time. He may not be a first-ballot HOFer, but he’ll eventually have a bust in Canton, Ohio. His patented spin move is one that defenders can attempt to emulate, but will fall short of perfectly duplicating.
Tom Telesco has already gone on the record stating that the team is not interested in re-signing the veteran pass rusher. But should he reconsider that?
A contract for Freeney at this point in his career would be very reasonable. His leadership in the locker room, film room and on the field would certainly continue to benefit the young group of outside linebackers on the team. Additionally, rookie Kyle Emanuel, although his inside counter-step off the edge is solid, could learn a lot from Freeney, and perhaps add another pass-rushing tactic to his arsenal. Not to mention, he could help Emanuel with the transition of having his hand in the dirt as a defensive end to standing up as an outside linebacker.
Due to being long in the tooth, and having a promising group of youngsters in front of him on the depth chart, Freeney would not be expected to play that often; thus driving down the amount of his contract. Defending the run has never been one of his strong suits, but he can still get after opposing signal callers. As long as he isn’t called upon to play too often, he can still make an impact while helping to aid the development of others in the group.
Telesco may stick to his words, or he may “change his mind” similar to what he did as far as contract negotiations with Eric Weddle. But we’ve written about the saga plenty of times on this site.
What are your thoughts on the possibility of bringing back Dwight Freeney? Please let me know by leaving your comments below.