Restricted free agent linebacker Jerrell Freeman has signed his one-year tender and will return to the Colts for the 2015 season, the team announced today in a press release. Because Indianapolis assigned him a second-round RFA tender, Freeman will be in line for a salary of $2.356MM.
Freeman, who turns 29 later this week, was one of a number of players around the league to skip his team’s voluntary workouts last week, apparently due to his contract situation. However, even if the linebacker would have liked to sign a more favorable, longer-term deal, his leverage was limited — Friday was the last day for RFAs to sign offer sheets with rival teams, so unless the Colts withdrew their tender, Freeman didn’t have any other viable options besides signing.
During the 2014 season, Freeman and D’Qwell Jackson saw the majority of the snaps for the Colts at the inside linebacker spots on the team’s 3-4 defense. After playing 781 defensive snaps in 2014, Freeman may have to fight to earn that many opportunities in 2015, since Indianapolis added free agent linebacker Nate Irving to the mix last month.
Irving and Freeman complement each other well, with Irving excelling as a run defender while Freeman’s is stronger in pass coverage. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the two players trade snaps depending on the situation, while Jackson continues to be a full-time contributor, or close to it.