Dwight Freeney

Seahawks To Host DE Dwight Freeney

Hours after it was reported that the Seahawks may have interest in veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney, the team will now bring in the former All-pro for a team visit tomorrow, tweets Dan Graziano of ESPN.com.

Dwight Freeney

While the Seahawks already have a talented defensive line made up of Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson and Frank Clark, the team’s interest in the 37 year-old probably stems from the injury that talented pass rusher Cliff Avril suffered at the beginning of the month. It’s highly unlikely that Freeney would play the majority of the snaps if he were signed, but he would provide another option to get after the quarterback on passing downs.

The defensive lineman is nowhere near the player he once was, although the veteran did post a combined 11 sacks in his previous two seasons as a member of the Cardinals and Falcons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Cardinals QB’s, Seahawks DE’s, Foster

Despite initial reports that Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer will undergo surgery on his broken arm and be out for eight weeks, the veteran signal caller may think he can return sooner than that. The 37 year-old reportedly told head coach Bruce Arians that he “may be able to return in 4-6 weeks”, according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. This news conflicts with the original prognosis, and Arians didn’t seem to doubt his QB’s feeling. “That’d be great…it depends on what the surgeon says. He is a fast healer. He’s had it broken before and basically said he was back in five.” Drew Stanton will still have to hold down the fort for the time being as the team looks to regain its footing after a 33-0 beatdown at the hands of the Rams.

  • Even with the Palmer injury, it seems like the Cardinals won’t be bringing in free agent quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. Arians told Weinfuss when asked about signing the former 49ers quarterback, “We’ve never had more than two on our roster since I’ve been here. We liked Blaine Gabbert so much that we kept him this year. So, we’re really where we always are.” Although, the coach did express potential interest in “a practice squad arm”.
  • With defensive end Cliff Avril out for at least seven games, the Seahawks may be looking to bring a free agent into the fold, tweets Bon Condotta of the Seattle Times. Condotta adds in another tweet that he hears the team could look into 37 year-old Dwight Freeney. The longtime Colts star remains on the open market after suiting up for the Falcons last season.
  • Reuben Foster was rather noncommittal about when he would return from an injury he suffered this past Sunday. Now it appears that the rookie linebacker is “good to go” after tests on his ribs, reports Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. After being removed on two separate occasions in a loss to the Cowboys, it would seem that the 49ers linebacker has avoided his second long-term injury of his first professional season.



Cardinals Not Pursuing Dwight Freeney

Despite losing outside linebacker Markus Golden to a torn ACL, the Cardinals don’t intend to target free agent edge rusher Dwight Freeney at this time, according to Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link).Dwight Freeney (Vertical)

Freeney, now 37 years old, spent the 2015 campaign in Arizona and managed eight sacks down the stretch after signing with the club midseason. Last year, Freeney didn’t have to wait quite as long to land a contract, and put up three sacks and 26.5 pressures for the Falcons while playing roughly a third of Atlanta’s defensive snaps.

Despite that performance, Freeney has yet to draw any interest on the free agent market. He still plans to continue his career, and there’s an argument to be made that waiting until, say, Week 6 to sign a deal could actually help a pass rusher of Freeney’s age by limiting his overall usage. The Falcons, who are dealing with injuries to Vic Beasley, Jack Crawford, and Courtney Upshaw along their defensive line, have been in contact with Freeney but seemingly have no plans to sign him.

In lieu of adding an edge defender, the Cardinals will shift rookie Haason Reddick from inside to outside linebacker, head coach Bruce Arians tells SiriusXM (Twitter link). Deone Bucannon is nearing a return and should be able to take over at inside ‘backer, while the recently promoted Scooby Wright could also see action.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Still In Contact With Dwight Freeney

The Falcons have remained in touch with free agent edge rusher Dwight Freeney, but the club has no intention to sign him at this time, head coach Dan Quinn told reporters, including D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.Dwight Freeney

 “Definitely somebody that we still talk to on a regular basis,” Quinn said of Freeney. “We are hopeful that he’s going to play this year. I know that he wants to, but right not there are no changes in our plan.”

Atlanta could conceivably add another pass rusher given that 2016 sack leader Vic Beasley will be sidelined for roughly a month after suffering a hamstring injury against the Packers on Sunday night. However, the Falcons will likely turn to rookie first-rounder Takkarist McKinley to play additional snaps at defensive end instead of inking a veteran such as Freeney, per Ledbetter.

Now entering his age 37-season, Freeney still had something left in the tank in 2016, when he signed a one-year deal with the Falcons in August. While playing roughly a third of Atlanta’s defensive snaps, Freeney managed three sacks and 26.5 pressures, and also added a sack in the club’s Super Bowl appearance. He’s yet to be linked to any team since free agency opened in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dwight Freeney Wants To Play In 2017

Just over a week ago, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn wasn’t sure if free agent defensive end Dwight Freeney wanted to continue his career. Now he has an answer.

Dwight Freeney

“He wants to play,” Quinn told reporters, including Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, on Wednesday. “I’d say he’s further along in the decision than he was last year.”

Freeney took until last August to ink a $2MM deal with the Falcons, and he went on to appear in 15 games and rack up three sacks with the NFC champions in 2016. The 37-year-old also ranked an impressive 39th in performance among Pro Football Focus’ 109 qualified edge defenders, even outdoing 15.5-sack teammate Vic Beasley (48th), but the Falcons aren’t committed to re-signing him.

“He knows I’m going down the line of looking at our team here,” said Quinn, who McClure notes wants to develop his team’s young pass rushers, including Beasley (last year’s sack champion) and first-round pick Takkarist McKinley. Both McKinley (shoulder) and Adrian Clayborn (biceps) come with injury concerns, McClure points out, which could eventually lead to a reunion with Freeney. Indeed, Quinn will consider Freeney “no matter what” while he evaluates his current options.

If the Falcons ultimately don’t re-up Freeney, it stands to reason another contender in need of a pass rusher could ink the seven-time Pro Bowler. Freeney provided a boost to the Cardinals’ defense the year before he joined the Falcons, notching eight sacks and three forced fumbles in 2015 for a club that went to the NFC title game, and won’t come at a bank-breaking cost. Also a former Colt and Charger, the 15-year veteran has totaled 122.5 sacks – good for 18th all-time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Dwight Freeney

Dwight Freeney says that he would like to return to the Falcons. What’s not clear is whether the Falcons necessarily want him back. Coach Dan Quinn told reporters that he has spoken to the veteran, but he has not spoken to him about a return, as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. He declined whether to say if he’d be interested in having Freeney on the team for 2017.Dwight Freeney (vertical)

I haven’t even found out if he’s ready to play yet,” Quinn said. “I know he was pretty committed to golf. He’s such a competitor. But our conversations haven’t been about playing. When we drafted [first-round defensive end Takkarist McKinley], that was someone I wanted him to connect with. But we haven’t talked about playing. If he does [bring it up], he knows we’re going down the line of looking at our team here first.”

In addition to adding McKinley, the Falcons also signed Jack Crawford this offseason. Still, there could still be room made for Freeney after he found success as a situational pass rusher last season. For his part, Freeney would like to suit up again for Atlanta. After the team received a $4MM+ post June 1 cap credit, the Falcons could theoretically afford to link up again.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dwight Freeney To Return To Falcons?

Dwight Freeney isn’t done with football just yet. Although he does not have a team for 2017, it sounds like that could change rather quickly. Dwight Freeney (vertical)

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I’ve already been talking to the coaches and going back and forth here and there with the draft picks and free agents,” Freeney said (via Alex Marvez of The Sporting News). “That line of communication is still very open. They say they’re still very interested. I’m planning to reach out to them here soon and hopefully we both believe they want me back and playing for them.”

The Falcons will receive a $4.3MM salary cap credit on Friday and a chunk of that could go towards re-signing Freeney. At one point, that didn’t seem likely at all. Coach Dan Quinn is on record as saying that Freeney would have to participate in the team’s offseason program if he did want to return, but it now sounds like they’ll make an exception for the future Hall of Fame inductee. The good news is that Freeney, who would be entering his 16th NFL season, says that he has been staying in shape with workouts that are not overly strenuous on his joints.

Last season, Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. He can be a valuable edge rusher in a part-time capacity for Atlanta while also helping to mentor younger players like rookie Takkarist McKinley.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Notes: Mixon, Freeney, Coleman

The Falcons are not interested in drafting running back Joe Mixon, and have removed him from their draft board given his prior assault charge, according to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta becomes the third known to team to have ruled out Mixon, joining Miami and New England. Like the Dolphins and Patriots, though, the Falcons don’t necessarily need a player of Mixon’s caliber given the level of talent on their roster. In Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, Atlanta already boasts one of the better backfield tandems in the league, and can easily make the decision to avoid the headache of adding Mixon.

Here’s more from Atlanta:

  • Although veteran pass rusher Dwight Freeney is likely to continue his career in 2017, the Falcons won’t decide whether to offer him a new contract until after the draft, per Schultz. Freeney, 37, probably wouldn’t have been participated in Atlanta’s spring workout sessions, so the club doesn’t feel the need to hurry into an offer. Last season, Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. He’s PFR’s No. 1 free agent edge defender. At present, Atlanta’s defensive end depth chart includes Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn, Derrick Shelby, Courtney Upshaw, Brooks Reed, and Jack Crawford, while the club could also select another pass rusher in the draft.
  • A long-term extension with Freeman is also on the back burner, reports Schultz, and the Falcons don’t expect to begin contract discussions until the start of training camp. Negotiations could also bleed into the regular season. Freeman, 25, is scheduled to earn $1.797MM in 2017, and was at one point reportedly looking for “elite” running back money. While Freeman and his agent have since walked back those comments, Freeman is surely still hunting for a hefty deal after combining for 2,100-plus rushing yards, 27 touchdowns (22 on the ground, five receiving) and 127 catches from 2015-16.
  • The Falcons could have interest in trading up from the No. 31 pick, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution“To move up in the 20s, there will be opportunities there,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “There are some interesting candidates that will be around there in the early parts of the 20s.” Atlanta could target a number of positions of Day 1 of the draft, but edge rusher or guard seem to be the club’s clearest need areas. In PFR’s first 2017 mock draft, I sent UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley to the Falcons at the end of the first round.
  • In case you missed it, the Falcons plan to exercise left tackle Jake Matthews‘ 2018 fifth-year option. The former No. 6 overall pick had a decent showing last year, earning a 74.3 overall score on Pro Football Focus. That mark left Mathews ranked No. 37 among all tackles, putting him in the middle of the pack out of 78 qualified players. He’ll earn roughly $12.81MM in 2018, but that figure is guaranteed for injury only until the first day of the 2018 league year.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Defense

The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2017:

Edge defender:

  1. Dwight Freeney
  2. Elvis Dumervil
  3. Chris Long
  4. Mario Williams
  5. Connor Barwin
  6. Paul Kruger
  7. Trent Cole
  8. Erik Walden
  9. Jason Jones
  10. Darryl Tapp
  11. Devin Taylor
  12. Eugene Sims
  13. Howard Jones
  14. Wallace Gilberry
  15. Sam Acho

The pass rushing market has been completely depleted during the first week of free agency, as 14 of our original top 15 edge players have now been franchised, signed, or, in the case of DeMarcus Ware, retired. As such, a 37-year-old with 15 NFL seasons under his belt is now the best pass rusher on the market. Dwight Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. Capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, Freeney can still help out a club on the cheap.Dwight Freeney (Vertical)

Three players on this list — Elvis Dumervil, Connor Barwin, and Eugene Sims — were released by their respective clubs last week, meaning they won’t count against the compensatory formula if and when they’re signed. Dumervil, now 33, was hampered by injuries last season but still earned strong pass-rushing marks from Pro Football Focus. Barwin, meanwhile, wasn’t a good fit in Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 defense, but he should flourish if he signs with a team running a 3-4 look. So far, he’s met with the Bengals (who use a 4-3) and Rams (3-4).

Chris Long has already indicated he won’t be returning to the Patriots, indicating he wants to join a roster where he’ll earn more playing time. Erik Walden, too, won’t re-sign with his 2016 club (the Colts), but he has taken a visit with the division rival Titans. Further down the list, Howard Jones has also met with at least one club, as he was hosted by the Jets on Tuesday. Jones, 27, is recovering from a torn ACL, but did post five sacks in five starts last season.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Johnathan Hankins
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Jared Odrick
  4. Vance Walker
  5. Sen’Derrick Marks
  6. Ricky Jean-Francois
  7. Roy Miller
  8. Al Woods
  9. Tony McDaniel
  10. Cullen Jenkins
  11. Frostee Rucker
  12. Cam Thomas
  13. John Jenkins
  14. Tyson Jackson
  15. Tyson Alualu

Although top-flight players such as Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams have already been signed, the crop of interior defenders remains strong at the top. The buzz around Johnathan Hankins has been virtually non-existent, as the only club that’s been even tangentially linked to the 25-year-old is the Redskins. He’s one of the youngest free agents on the market, and therefore is probably looking for a massive payday. But the lack of interest around Hankins may be an indication that he’s simply asking for too much money.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

The same issue could be surrounding Dontari Poe, although he’s not wanting for meetings around the league. He’s visited with the Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, and Dolphins, while the 49ers and Raiders also reportedly have some level of interest. Clubs may have concerns about Poe’s lingering back issues, and he might have to accept a one-year deal in order to prove he’s healthy and willing to provide full effort.

The remaining defensive interior players are mostly over-30 veterans, with names such as Tony McDaniel, Cullen Jenkins, Frostee Rucker, and Tyson Jackson still looking for new deals. While most of these guys can still play, they may have to wait awhile — possibly into the summer — before signing on with their next club. Jared Odrick (Patriots) and Vance Walker (Bears) have both taken visits, but the most intriguing lineman here may be Sen’Derrick Marks, who offers a good amount of pass rush from the interior.

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Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Defense

NFL free agency gets underway on Thursday and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. Here is our updated outlook for each defensive and special teams position.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as franchised players aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for this offseason:

Edge defender:

  1. Nick Perry
  2. Jabaal Sheard
  3. John Simon
  4. DeMarcus Ware
  5. Lorenzo Alexander
  6. Andre Branch
  7. Julius Peppers
  8. Charles Johnson
  9. Datone Jones
  10. Dwight Freeney
  11. Chris Long
  12. Mario Williams
  13. Paul Kruger
  14. Courtney Upshaw
  15. Jarvis Jones

Now that Chandler Jones, Melvin Ingram, and Jason Pierre-Paul have all been assigned the franchise tag, Nick Perry stands as the top edge defender on the free agent market, and is now in a position to cash in. The Packers opted against the franchise tender for the 26-year-old Perry, so he’ll hit the open market following a career year which saw him post 11 sacks."<strong

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among players with youth still on their side, Datone Jones figures to interest clubs thanks to his versatility, as he can vacillate between end and linebacker, while fellow former first-round pick Jarvis Jones is solid against the run. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. Charles Johnson, meanwhile, looks like a good bet to return to the Panthers, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Calais Campbell
  2. Johnathan Hankins
  3. Brandon Williams
  4. Dontari Poe
  5. Chris Baker
  6. Bennie Logan
  7. Nick Fairley
  8. Alan Branch
  9. Jared Odrick
  10. Karl Klug
  11. Terrell McClain
  12. Lawrence Guy
  13. Stacy McGee
  14. Stephen Paea
  15. Sylvester Williams
    Honorable mention: Paul Soliai

Calais Campbell is the best overall player among interior defenders, and though he’s entering his age-31 season and may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe, Campbell will still be highly-sought after as he searches for his last substantial payday Campbell’s agent met with the Cardinals last week, but other speculative fits for the veteran defender include the Broncos, Raiders, Ravens, Colts, and Titans."<strong

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Karl Klug), and run stoppers (Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

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