Since it appears that the Pittsburgh Steelers will totally cut all ties to linebacker James Harrison, there could be a possibility that the team will seek a pass rusher in the free agency pool. Rumor has it that the Steelers are looking at former Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney.
Pittsburgh desperately needs help with their pass rush for the 2013 season. Harrison’s six sacks were tied for first on the team in 2012, and the Steelers had a total of 37 sacks, which was a far cry from the normal production of Harrison and the team.
Freeney has had a spectacular career in the NFL since his arrival in 2002. The 11-year veteran has 107.5 career sacks, and has been one of the league’s best pass rushers during that time. However, Freeney is a much better pass rusher when playing defensive end in the 4-3 scheme.
Last season, the Colts switched from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, moving Freeney from defensive end to outside linebacker. The seven-time Pro Bowler had the least productive season of his professional career. Freeney finished the year with five sacks and a career-low 12 tackles.
I know that the Steelers are in need of a boost with their pass rushing, but I don’t think that bringing in Freeney will be the answer. Freeney has played his entire collegiate career and 10 of his 11 years in the league as a hand-on-the-ground defensive end in a 4-3 defensive scheme. Looking at his production from last season (or lack there of) clearly shows that a 3-4 defense is not made for him.
Pittsburgh is better off rebuilding the defense with some youth, and not adding a 32-year-old veteran to a roster with an abundance of players who are on the wrong side of the age of 30. I’m not saying that Freeney can’t be an asset to an NFL team. I’m just saying that he won’t be much of an asset to the Steelers.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google