John Clayton, of ESPN.com, reports the Colts have signed Pro-Bowl DL Dwight Freeney to a six-year, $72 million deal earlier today. The new contract includes a gigantic $30 million signing bonus. As reported first by NFLGridIronGab.com writer and Bearsgab.com editor Russell Loede (June 18) last month, the Indy DE was ready to cash in; Freeney’s new deal is going to be worth $12 million a year. The Syracuse alum is a monster on the defensive line for Head Coach Tony Dungy, whose new book “Quiet Strength” just came out, and the SB champs were well aware of his presence on the gridiron, as they made sure to make him one of the highest paid players in the league along with his teammate QB Peyton Manning.
Freeney is worth his big-money deal, and I expect him to have a big year on the field in â€˜07 like he did in ’04 and ’05 (16 and 11 sacks, to go with a combined 10 forced fumbles), not the ’06 season – only 5 ½ sacks. He will rebound this season and the extra “green” will be an added extra incentive to produce at a high level. The Hartford, Connecticut native, picked 11th overall in the 2002 NFL Draft, has only missed only a single game in his career of five seasons, 79 games played. At 6-foot 1, 268 pounds, he has a rare knack for knocking the football loose (more than five forced fumbles a year average), he forced a career-high nine in his rookie year, and has a total of 27 during his continued run of dominance in the NFL.
This “all-world” leader had this to say, “To have me paid among the top players in the league – not just as a defensive player – means a lot to me,” Freeney told ESPN. “(Colts general manager) Bill Polian is the one who drafted me. I was hand-picked by him. He was going to do the right thing for the organization.” The deal by Freeney is worth more annually than the eight-year, $80 million deal that cornerback Nate Clemens signed with the 49ers earlier this offseason. This speedster at end will be jockeying for position in a race to get outside and inside, past any offensive blocker and by the tackles in a hurry to sack the QB for years to come – for Dungy and the Colts.
Freeney’s spin move is as devastating as a guard driving to the hoop attacking the rim, and rivals the one of former Minnesota great RB Chuck Foreman ~ but he does it on D, intimidating the one who blocks – or at least tries to block him- and the defensive coordinator who shakes his head in disgust, and is shaking also in fear watching the destruction Freeney makes, creating havoc on the field against his squad. Every Sunday he is a joy to watch, posing mismatches to anyone that tries to block or defend his moves; Dwight is truly worth the price of admission.