Jerrell Freeman

Recently Retired LB Jerrell Freeman Received 2-Year Suspension

Suspensions dogged Jerrell Freeman during the latter portion of his career, and although the former Colts and Bears linebacker announced his retirement earlier this month, any attempt to reverse course will likely be difficult after the league handed out a rare suspension last week.

The NFL suspended Freeman for two years on Friday, NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweets. While the cause isn’t specified, it’s safe to assume another positive test for performance-enhancing drugs caused it.

Freeman already incurred a four-game ban in November of 2016 and then was slapped with a 10-game suspension in October 2017. A third positive test triggers a two-year suspension, according to the NFL’s PED policy.

The 32-year-old inside linebacker played four years with the Colts and two with the Bears, having signed a three-year deal with Chicago in 2016. But Freeman only played in one game last season, with the suspension and a chest injury keeping the veteran off-ball ‘backer off the field. The Bears released Freeman in February.

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Jerrell Freeman Retires From NFL

Jerrell Freeman is calling it a career. On Wednesday, Freeman announced his retirement via Twitter. 

I will be retiring from the NFL today,” Freeman wrote. “My health and my family are my top priorities. . . . Thank you Bears, Colts, Roughriders, and yes, even the Titans (where I only had a cup of coffee, haha). You will always be like family. Its been a long and rewarding journey.”

Freeman, who turned 32 on Wednesday, inked a three-year pact with Chicago prior to the 2016 campaign. Unfortunately, injuries and suspensions limited him to just 13 games over the past two years. Last season, Freeman suffered a torn pectoral in Week 1 and was subsequently banned for 10 games due to his second performance-enhancing drug policy violation. Had he continued playing, the ban would have carried over to the first two games of 2018.

When his suspension was announced last October, Freeman said that he had been suffering from memory loss and other side effects due to head trauma. Hopefully, Freeman will be able to mount a recovery as he steps away from the gridiron.

Freeman’s first NFL came in 2008 when he signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent. After that, he hooked on with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders and did not return to the NFL until 2012 when he signed on with the Colts. Freeman went on to start in all 70 of his NFL games and tallied nearly 650 tackles in total.

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Bears To Release LB Jerrell Freeman

The Bears will release linebacker Jerrell Freeman, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link).Jerrell Freeman (vertical)

Freeman, 31, inked a three-year pact with Chicago prior to the 2016 campaign, but injuries and suspensions have limited him to only 13 total games over the past two years. Last season, Freeman suffered a torn pectoral in Week 1 and was subsequently banned for 10 games due to his second performance-enhancing drug bust. That suspension will carry over to 2018, as Freeman will miss the first two games of next season.

While the 2017 season was a lost cause, Freeman was excellent from 2015-16 with the Colts and Bears, as Pro Football Focus assigned him grades of 90+ in both years. The Bears are likely aiming to get younger of the defensive side of the ball, meaning Freeman wasn’t a fit at his $3.5MM base salary, but he could potentially land a new deal with another club. Given that he’s a vested veteran, Freeman won’t have to pass through waivers and is free to sign with another team immediately.

The Bears, meanwhile, will move forward with Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkoski at inside linebacker following Freeman’s release. As Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune recently wrote, Chicago wants to give opportunity to Kwaitkoski, a 2016 fourth-round selection who has started 13 games during his career.

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North Notes: Vikings, Browns, McCarron

Now that’s been declared an unrestricted free agent, Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron says he’s “open to everything,” according to Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It’s just awesome just to be free now and to hopefully get that opportunity and be able to compete somewhere,” said McCarron. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted. I’m just super excited.” McCarron, who won a grievance against the Bengals, will now join a free agent signal-caller class that includes Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, and Sam Bradford, among others. In what sounds like speculation, the Browns (who nearly traded for McCarron last year) and the Vikings are two team to “keep an eye on” as McCarron hits the open market, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link).

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • The Steelers rank as a bottom-three NFL club in terms of 2018 cap space, and they’ll likely clear more room by releasing defensive backs Mike Mitchell and J.J. Wilcox over the coming weeks, as Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. Pittsburgh can clear $5MM by cutting the 30-year-old Mitchell, and Dulac says it’s “become apparent” to the Steelers coaching staff that Mitchell can’t run as well as he used to. Wilcox, meanwhile, was a preseason trade acquisition who ended up playing only 14% of the Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps a year ago. If the Steelers do end up altering their defensive backfield, former second-round pick Sean Davis will likely transition from strong to free safety.
  • While Mitchell and Wilcox could be forced off the Steelers‘ roster, offensive tackle Chris Hubbard is likely to leave of his own accord, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Hubbard, 26, had only started four games during the first three years of his career, but was inserted into Pittsburgh’s lineup for 10 games in 2017. During that time, Hubbard offered league-average production, grading as the No. 40 tackle among 81 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Per Fowler, Hubbard is going to “get paid elsewhere, and the Steelers know it.”
  • Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman is expected to retire or be released, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Freeman, 31, inked a three-year, $12MM contract with Chicago prior to the 2016 season, but injuries and two performance-enhancing drug suspensions have limited him to just 13 games over the past two years. Without Freeman, the Bears will likely field Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkowski at inside linebacker.
  • Updating a previous report, former Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan is indeed still running his scouting service and has not been hired full-time by the Browns, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. McCloughan is providing consulting work for multiple NFL clubs.

Bears LB Jerrell Freeman Suspended

Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman has been suspended once again for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing drugs, the league announced. This time around, it’s a ten-game ban. Jerrell Freeman (vertical)

Freeman suffered a torn pectoral muscle on the first play of Bears’ opener against the Falcons in Week 1. He was placed on injured reserve after the game, but he remarkably still played roughly 95 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps and racked up 10 tackles in their 23-17 defeat.

The linebacker was likely done for the year anyway, but this new ban seals the deal since there are just eight games left in the year. His suspension begins immediately, per the NFL, so he will not receive his salary while on IR.

Freeman has now accrued two PED bans inside of a year. This latest suspension will cost Freeman upwards of $2MM in take-home pay.

Freeman will be eligible to play early in 2018, but this could be the end of the line for him in the NFL. In a statement released on Twitter, Freeman explained that he has been dealing with a significant head injury. That injury, he says, led him to self-medicate with pills that triggered his positive test.

I hate to [say] I’m sorry again but I am sorry. I’ve been on IR all year and you try and stay out of sight, but sorry for the distraction. I had been lying to friends, family, and loved ones when it came to the question of, “Are you okay?,” Freeman wrote. “Knowing my career may be over due [to] everything that came with the head injury {that’s been purposely downplayed by me), memory loss and all, has actually been a bit of a struggle. That being said, there’s no excuse to cope with any problems by taking any kind of pills. I don’t know my future but a big thanks to the Bears and the NFL, if I would have used their programs and services earlier than I did, I wouldn’t be in this situation. Sorry again for the distraction.”

 

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NFC Notes: OBJ, Sherman, Barr, Freeman

Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. returned to practice Thursday and is likely to make his season debut this week, which should be a boon to an offense that looked lost on season-opening Sunday. However, OBJ won’t be at full strength for a little while longer. The ankle injury that has bothered him since mid-August comes with a six- to eight-week recovery timeline, he revealed to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com and other reporters Thursday. The Giants’ game against the Lions on Monday will mark exactly four weeks since Beckham suffered the injury, notes Raanan, meaning Big Blue might not see him at his best until the end of this month or sometime in October.

  • Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has missed two straight practices with a hamstring issue, perhaps jeopardizing his chances of playing against San Francisco on Sunday. Watching the game in street clothes would be a first for Sherman, a seventh-year man who has played in 97 straight contests since the Seahawks added him as a fifth-round pick in 2011. Defensive coordinator Kris Richard suggested Thursday that Sherman’s streak will continue, telling reporters (via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times) that he’s “not even considering” going without the corner because “it’s never happened here.”
  • Like Sherman, Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr has missed back-to-back practices with a hamstring injury. He’s now at risk of sitting out a game this week for the first time since December 2015, per The Associated Press. Barr played all 62 of the Vikings’ defensive snaps in their win over New Orleans on Monday. With or without the two-time Pro Bowler, the Vikings will face a difficult road test in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
  • Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman announced on Instagram on Thursday that he suffered a torn pectoral on the first play of their loss to the Falcons in Week 1, Adam Jahns of the Chicago Tribune relays (on Twitter). Remarkably, Freeman still played roughly 95 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps and racked up 10 tackles in their 23-17 defeat. The Bears placed Freeman on injured reserve this week and will go without him until at least November.

Bears Place Jerrell Freeman On IR

The Bears made the decision to place linebacker Jerrell Freeman on IR on Tuesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

Freeman entered Chicago’s concussion protocol on Sunday while also suffering a pectoral injury. The latter would pose a bigger threat to his returning this season. The starting inside linebacker is out until at least November as a result of this transaction.

Chicago signed linebacker Jonathan Anderson off its practice squad, per Schefter.

The 31-year-old Freeman, a 2016 UFA signee who came over from the Colts, led the Bears with 110 tackles despite playing in only 12 games due to a four-game suspension for a positive PED test.

This marks the latest injury setback to a Bears linebacker corps that’s endured a few this offseason. Danny Trevathan spent the offseason recovering from a torn patellar tendon — his second serious knee injury in three years — and Pernell McPhee‘s knee troubles induced DC Vic Fangio to describe the former Raven as not being the same player he was pre-injuries.

Chicago has Nick Kwiatkoski and Christian Jones as inside linebacker options while Freeman recovers from his head injury. Kwiatkoski will be the starter while Freeman’s out, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes.

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Bears Place Eddie Goldman On IR

Eddie Goldman‘s offseason will start a couple of weeks early. The defensive tackle has been placed on injured reserve, becoming the 19th Bears player to hit IR this season. To take his spot on the roster, center/guard Cornelius Edison has been promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. The Bears also activated linebacker Jerrell Freeman from the exempt list."<strong

This has been a trying year for Goldman. The injury bug first got him in September when a cursed 29-14 loss to the Eagles saw Goldman, quarterback Jay Cutler, and linebackers Lamarr Houston and Danny Trevathan exit with injuries.

All in all, Goldman appeared in only six games this season. He tallied 18 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Unsurprisingly, he did not have enough snaps to qualify for Pro Football Focus’ positional rankings, but he did earn a solid 80.0 grade for his limited work. In a more complete sesaon, that would have placed him just outside of the top 25 at his position.

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Bears LB Jerrell Freeman Suspended

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Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman has been suspended for the next four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Of course, this comes on the heels of Alshon Jeffery‘s four-game suspension for PEDs. Jeffery claimed that he accidentally ingested a banned substance, but it remains to be seen what Freeman’s defense will be.

Freeman has established himself as one of Chicago’s top defenders, so his absence will definitely be noticed. Between the two bans, the Bears are now missing two of their very best players in the second half of the season. Of course, at 2-8, the Bears aren’t playing for much at this juncture, but it’s still bad for morale and not a good look for John Fox & Co.

Freeman came to the Bears on a three-year deal worth $12MM this March. The pact includes $6MM in guaranteed money and those terms may change following Freeman’s suspension. Already a solid inside linebacker heading into 2015, Freeman took his play to another level by significantly improving his play against the run. This year, he took another leap forward and currently stands as PFF’s No. 2 ranked linebacker in the NFL. He is topped only by Luke Kuechly of the Panthers. Sadly, both players are in for extended absences, but for different reasons.

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Freeman: Colts Were Uninterested In Reunion

Jerrell Freeman sensed the Colts were planning to move on without him after they signed Nate Irving to a three-year, $7.25MM deal last spring. But he still tried to give them a chance to exceed the Bears’ offer a year later.

I went into free agency and it was pretty much, ‘Good luck,’” Freeman said, via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. “Even when I did get the Bears’ offer and we tried to go back to them. They were like, ‘Yeah, this is a good deal; take it.’ I guess it [was] over.”

The Bears ended up signing the 30-year-old inside linebacker to a three-year, $12MM accord. He’d hoped to stay with the Colts after leading or being second on the team in tackles from 2012-15 but saw the team move on and go with Irving and Sio Moore. Both are no longer with Indianapolis after recent cuts.

Freeman played for the $2.35MM RFA tender last season while seeing Irving, a former third-round Broncos pick who was coming off a season-ending injury at the time, receive the multiyear commitment. The Colts also traded a sixth-round pick to the Raiders for Moore, whom they cut Tuesday.

Indianapolis’ initial offer to retain Freeman — submitted several weeks before free agency began — was the three-year, $12MM commitment the Bears proposed. But the Chicago deal included $2.5MM in incentives that proved to be the difference, Holder reports, who adds Ryan Grigson preferred to spend Freeman’s money on cornerback Patrick Robinson.

They ended up signing Nate and paying him more than I made that year. That kind had me off a little bit,” Freeman said. “Ah man, is that how it is? Later on after that year, it was one of those take-it-or-leave-it-type things. I was like, four years and that’s how it is? Take or leave it?

In the teams’ Week 5 matchup, the Bears will deploy Freeman and fellow UFA signing Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker, while the Colts may use fourth-round rookie Antonio Morrison alongside D’Qwell Jackson. Freeman has 41 tackles this season after making 112 in 13 games in 2015.

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