Dwight Freeney signed with the San Diego Chargers on Saturday, meaning two former teammates will face off twice a year. Freeney is good friends with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning from their days with the Indianapolis Colts. He was once believed to be headed for a reunion with Manning in Denver, but instead will play for the rival Chargers.
The question is, what does the Freeney signing mean for the Broncos?
Whenever a division rival upgrades their talent base, it’s something to take notice of, but the Broncos should not be too concerned about Freeney with the Chargers.
Firstly, Freeney is not the pass rusher he was four or five years ago as his sack numbers have decreased in recent years. He also benefited from playing with leads when he and Manning played for the Colts, making it easier to rush the passer. The Chargers are unlikely to be playing with big leads very often, especially versus the Broncos.
Freeney also had Robert Mathis on the other side when he was with the Colts, an advantage he won’t have with the Chargers. Teams, including the Broncos, will be able to game plan for Freeney without having to worry about a second pass rusher.
However, the biggest reason that the Broncos shouldn’t be too concerned about the presence of Freeney with the Chargers is Ryan Clady. Clady is one of the best left tackles in the NFL and is coming off of his best season as a pro. Throw in the fact that Manning knows Freeney and gets rid of the ball quickly, and the Broncos will be fine when facing the Chargers.
What’s funny is the Broncos signed former Charger Shaun Phillips for a fraction of what the Chargers are paying Freeney, and I’m willing to bet that Phillips has a better year than Freeney. The new Charger may end up with more sacks, but Phillips will have more of an impact.
Freeney had a chance to play with the Broncos and benefit from the leads that Manning is likely to build, but he passed on it and now has to chase his friend twice a year. Good luck with that.
Follow me on Twitter @Jemorrone7