Dwight Freeney: New York Jets a Great Fit For Former Colts Stud

By Gary Thomas
February 18, 2013 9:12 am
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New York Jets fans, Dwight Freeney was recently not resigned by the Indianapolis Colts after 11 seasons and 107.5 sacks. He is the edge pass-rusher the Jets have never had in the Rex Ryan era!

When looking at Freeney, think Michael Strahan, more on that thought in a moment. 

The Jets have tried and missed on previous edge rushers in the way of Calvin Pace, who in essentially the same number of seasons (minus one; he was drafted the year after Freeney) has amassed only 42.5 sacks. The reclamation project that was Aaron 'Mayhem' Maybin; in four pro seasons he has a total of six sacks. 

Vernon Gholston, drafted the season before Ryan and his staff took over, was put front and center by Ryan as "The Project" to turn him into the pass-rushing demon that his physical gifts suggested he should have become. A physical freak, Gholston was drafted with the 6th pick in the 1st round (by former GM Mike Tannenbaum), and came highly-touted out of Ohio State.

But in his brief three-year career Gholston amassed exactly zero - yes zero - sacks. The closest thing to an effective edge rusher was the Jason Taylor experiment, that is of bringing in a guy that was a specialist but at the tail end of his career (Taylor was 37 at the time) and squeezing every last ounce out of him possible.

Taylor actually did a decent job, as a third-down specialist most of the season, he totaled five sacks, 36 tackles, two forced fumbles, six passes defensed, and a huge safety to seal a game toward the end of the season. He was also a leader who his teammates rallied around and he helped to mentor the younger players. 

Last season Freeney made a base salary of $14 million, and over the life of his six-year deal made an average of $12 million. The Jets are currently about $9 million under the salary cap -- would they consider offering Freeney $14 million over the course of two seasons, with incentives that can take him closer to his average?

The bigger question: does Ryan & new GM John Idzik think he can make a difference in the same way that I do, and decide to court the free agent and then offer him a two or three-year deal to entice him to Florham Park? Do Jets' fans think Freeney could make a difference?

See more on why I think he'd be a good fit in the following slide show:

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18 months ago
One player is not going to fix the Jets, especially one who does not fit the defensive scheme the Jets employ. Dwight Freeman was a great fit in Indy during the Manning years. They (Colts) employed a 4-3 and he played a wide 9 technique. Indy played from ahead (Manning = elite QB) and Freeman could focus purely on rushing the passer. The Jets were built to challenge for a Super Bowl spot the past 4 years. Now their window has closed and they must rebuild. The Jets are currently $19 millon over the salary cap with their current roster. This does not include current unrestricted free agents who were starters last year: Yerimiah Bell S, LaRon Landry S, Dustin Keller TE, Shon Greene RB, Brandon Moore G, Matt Slauson G, Braylon Edwards WR, Bryan Thomas LB, and Restricted Free Agent starter Austin Howard T. Let's see, the Jets must replace 9 starters and trim $19 million from the salary cap. I don't think Freeney is even sniffed at by the Jets. The problem with the Jets is what plauges many poorly managed NFL franchises, when you committ significant portions of your salary cap to a player you better be sure that they are true difference makers. Who commands the bulk of the Jets cap? Mark Sanchez QB, D'Brickashaw Ferguson T, Nick Mangold C, Santonio Holmes WR, David Harris LB, Bart Scott LB, Darelle Revis CB, Antonio Cromartie CB. These 8 players are the core that Tannenbaum/Ryan choose to build around. Of the 8, the only true franchise player is Revis, and he is coming off of an injury. There is an old saying amongst NFL GM's, that goes along the lines, if you draft a QB in the top 10 and miss it can set your franchise back 5 years because of the cap space involved. The Jets will now reap what they sowed and whether they have Dwight Freeney or not, they will not be very competitive in 2013.
18 months ago

Absolutely agree with your 1st point, 1 player does not fix the Jets, but can certainly be a great piece to the puzzle (not to mention the fact that other top guys might again consider Jets seeing a guy like Freeney land with them). In relation to your thought about the Colts playing from ahead and Freeney being able to focus on pass rush mostly, Jets obviously run a different type of offense (to say the least), but that said I think they (defensively speaking) fit one another. Freeney give Rex's D the dynamic edge guy they never had and then in turn Freeney benefits from the aggressive nature of Rex's complex blitz rush, meaning OLine can't always key on him or at least as much as they have to remain vigilant in looking for disgused blitzers. I think it can be a pass rush winning formula. As for the "good" core of the Jets I think it's a bit bigger than you're estimating, it should definitely include: Mangold, Ferguson, Harris, Cromartie, as well as Revis. The 2 AllPro lineman can be made to look bad when there are 3 other guys on the line not holding up their end of the bargan, as an ex QB yourself you certainly know that the OLine is a complete unit and all look bad when a couple or in this case few are not holding up their end of the bargan! I see there being much more to work with than many other do, and I also feel that the season just steam rolled and got away from them because of the offensive issues. BTW note that the Jets cut LB Bryan Thomas then brought him back again, thus his money doesn't count toward the cap going forward and he's and Unrestricted Free Agent - Gone!
18 months ago
While the Jets should consider looking at Freeney they would also like to look at that weak receiving corps they have. Bowe, Jennings and Harvin are all available in one form or another. They need to get some targets for whoever they have throwing the ball next season.
18 months ago

Agreed on the necessity to shore up the receiving corps, last season after Holmes went down their receivers left had a combined total of 20 professional games played (before bringing Braylon Edwards back) - was a pathetic thing to see. I'd go Jennings 1st, Bowe 2nd and stay away from Harvin. Harvin is most physically gifted but unless his migraine headache situation is completely controlled he is a time bomb for your team, you just don't know when he's going to wake up and not be able to play for a week; its actually more of an unknown than that of an injury in my opinion.
18 months ago
The Jets suck!! Lol naw just playing. Excellent article end I agree! If they had a pass rush mixed with their great DB's, then they would be hard to beat
18 months ago

Spoken like a TRUE Bears fan! Your monsters-of-the-midway and nobody else!
Thanks for your thought on the article, right on point about pass rush, mixed with their secondary, Jets were No.2 against the pass last season (even without Revis). If they could generate, a non-blitz, front 4 pass rush they'd be deadly! And maybe give the offense some short fields to work with...

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