The number of proven pass rushers that once clogged the free agency landscape has slowly dissipated, leaving a few stubborn hangers-on, the most talented of whom could possibly be Dwight Freeney.
The common thought had been that Freeney was waiting in the wings to see what was going to happen between Elvis Dumervil and the Denver Broncos. Now that the situation out west has come to a head, it was expected they Broncos would announce Freeney was joining up with his old buddy Peyton Manning. Instead, the aging pass rushing specialist has started making his rounds and pressing his advantage.
Where the defensive end pool had once been a buyers market, Freeney sees himself as being the best of the rest; a fact that raises the price he has in his mind. This thought process was confirmed when he expressed his desire to make more than Osi Umenyiora, who just inked a two year deal with the Atlanta Falcons worth $8.5 million with performance bonuses that could be worth another $3.5 million.
He also went on to disclose the short-list of places where he would prefer to end up. Despite the multitude of rumored possibilities, Freeney listed just three teams; the Broncos, the Miami Dolphins and the Detroit Lions.
Any of the three could prove to be a fine fit for the distinguished pass rusher, but the Lions are an interesting team to see listed as a preferred destination. The moves in Miami have made it an attractive option and playing opposite a phenom like Cameron Wake could be huge for Freeney’s numbers. Denver we had already heard of, and then there is Detroit.
The Lions are in desperate need for some type of pass rush coming off of the edge. They allowed Cliff Avril to walk away in free agency, and released Kyle Vanden Bosch after the 2012 season came to an end. These may have been the correct moves for the Lions, but it leaves them very weak on the edge. They are sure to address the need in the 2013 NFL Draft, but they would certainly be interested in bringing Freeney on board.
The problem is, the Lions are getting close to the bottom of their war coffers and coming up with the money to pay what Freeney wants would be a real trick. They only have something around $7 million left, and they still need to worry about signing their rookies.
While it would be an intriguing marriage, the money comes between these two suitors, and a deal does not get done. Freeney will have to turn to one of the other two teams left on his wish list and the Lions will end up filling their need elsewhere.