Between the three of them, they have accumulated 330 sacks over the course of 15 years. At different points in their careers, they were among the most-feared pass rushers in the league. But now, Dwight Freeney, 35, John Abraham, 37, and Osi Umenyiora, 33, are nearing the end of the line, and if they get another contract, it will probably be their last.
That is not to say that they have nothing left to offer. In his excellent profile of Freeney two months ago, PFR’s Dallas Robinson explained how the long-time Colt was able to effectively disrupt the passing game in 2014, his only full season with the Chargers. As Robinson wrote, Freeney did not post gaudy sack totals in San Diego, but he placed third among qualifying 3-4 OLBs with 40 quarterback hurries, and 14th with nine QB hits. Furthermore, Freeney has experience both with his hand in the ground and standing up, so he would not be limited to any one scheme.
Abraham, meanwhile, lost his 2014 season due to concussion-related issues, and doctors told him last September that he should sit out for at least a year. Our Luke Adams wrote at that time that Abraham was most likely headed towards retirement, but he did post 11.5 sacks for the Cardinals in 2013–earning his fifth Pro Bowl nod in the process–and he is consistently mentioned as an option for teams that may find themselves in need of a situational pass rusher as we get closer to the start of the regular season. So until Abraham officially calls it a career, we will continue to hear his name bandied about.
Umenyiora, the youngest of the group, recorded a mere 2.5 sacks in 16 games for the Falcons last year, and has not put up double-digit sacks since 2010. However, he did get 26 quarterback hurries and 6 quarterback hits in just 347 snaps, so it is clear he can still be effective in a situational role. Despite his limited playing time, he did rate as the 22nd-best 4-3 defensive end out of 59 eligible players, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required).
All of the above players, assuming they do not retire, are in line for a one-year deal with limited value. They will be called upon if a team suffers an injury to one of its pass rushers in training camp, or if a younger edge rusher fails to live up to expectations. And as they have shown, they can provide a boost to a club’s pass rushing game if deployed appropriately. They may not be the players they once were, but they may have enough left in the tank to help a contender get over the hump in 2015.
So what say you? Which of the three players above is most likely to suit up for an NFL team this season?