According to ESPN, the San Diego Chargers signed former Indianapolis Colts defensive end/linebacker Dwight Freeney to a two-year deal today. This move comes four days after 2012 first-round pick and outside linebacker Melvin Ingram tore his ACL during a Chargers practice. Unfortunately, the former South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end will more than likely miss the entire 2013 season.
Freeney is a seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro who led the NFL with 16 sacks in 2004. While Freeney’s production has declined the last three seasons, he made the Pro Bowl from 2008-2011 and was injured last season, so Freeney could bounce back with San Diego in 2013.
The signing of Freeney came as no surprise when it was announced that he was visiting with San Diego this week because Chargers general manager Tom Telesco was employed by Indianapolis for Freeney’s entire career. Telesco worked as a scout and later became Indy’s Director of Player Personnel.
Freeney’s 107.5 career sacks rank fifth among active players and 21st in NFL history. San Diego uses two outside linebackers in their lineup and the coaching staff will depend on Freeney to be the one who puts pressure on quarterbacks because Jarret Johnson is not known as a pass rusher.
When Freeney plays in at least 10 games a season, he averages 10.4 sacks, which San Diego needs because they lost their best pass rusher Shaun Phillips in free agency to the Denver Broncos.
San Diego uses three defensive linemen, but only one is a defensive end so Freeney needs to take pressure away from DE Corey Liuget in passing situations.
The signing of Freeney could be a benefit for Ingram when he comes back next season because Freeney could be a mentor to him and they could start at the outside linebacker positions.