Arizona Cardinals, Dwight Freeney agree to 1-year deal
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The Cardinals and defensive end Dwight Freeney have reached an agreement on a one-year contract, according to an NFL source.
The deal is for the NFL minimum for a veteran of Freeney’s experience, $970,000 for a full season. Since Freeney has missed five games, that amount is decreased to about $685,000.
His one-year deal does include incentives for sacks, according to the source.
The Cardinals needed outside pass rush help even before starting outside linebacker Alex Okafor suffered a strained calf muscle against the Lions. The Cardinals are hopeful Okafor will miss no more than a month, according to an NFL source.
Okafor is the team’s best pass rusher, so his injury made finding another pass rusher an even higher priority.
Arians said on Monday, however, that a deal with Freeney was not in place.
“We’re just waiting to see what we’re going to do,” he said. “We’ll still have to find how long (Okafor) is going to be. And we’ll see what other options are available and go from there.”
The Cardinals have been interested in Freeney since July, according to sources, but the veteran pass rusher wanted more money than the team was willing to pay.
Five games into the season, both sides had added incentive to get a deal done.
The Cardinals have only seven sacks through five games, and their sack-per-pass-attempt percentage, 4.15, is 25th in the 32-team league. Okafor leads the team in sacks with two, both coming in Week 1.
Sacks aren’t the only way to measure pressure on the quarterback, and Arians has consistently said he’s been satisfied with the pass rush. The Cardinals also have intercepted 11 passes, most in the NFL, so it's not as if the pass defense has been poor.
Freeney, 35, played 11 seasons with the Colts and the past two with the Chargers. He made the Pro Bowl seven times and was a first-team All Pro three times. He has 111 ½ sacks in his career.
But he’s had just nine sacks in the past three years, including 3 ½ last year with the Chargers.
Freeney, however, did have 53 quarterback pressures, according to profootballfocus.com.
Cardinals coaches know Freeney well. Arians was the Colts offensive coordinator and interim coach in 2012, and defensive coordinator James Bettcher was a defense assistant on that staff.
Freeney is expected to join the Cardinals here this week where they are preparing to play at Pittsburgh on Sunday.