TUESDAY, 10:52am: The Cardinals have officially signed Freeney and – as expected – placed linebacker and special teamer Kenny Demens on the injured reserve list, per Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com (Twitter link).
MONDAY, 1:21pm: Freeney’s deal is a minimum salary pact that includes some sack incentives, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter). Meanwhile, Getlin adds (via Twitter) that Okafor is expected to miss two to four weeks with his calf injury, so Freeney figures to see some action right away.
1:01pm: The NFL’s highest-scoring team has made an addition on the defensive side of the ball today, according to Rand Getlin of the NFL Network, who reports (via Twitter) that the Cardinals are signing veteran pass rusher Dwight Freeney to a one-year contract.
Freeney, 35, spent most of his NFL career in Indianapolis, but played 20 games for the Chargers in 2013 and 2014. While his sack numbers weren’t particularly impressive in San Diego – he recorded four in total – he continued to put pressure on quarterbacks.
As our Dallas Robinson noted when he examined Freeney’s free agent stock earlier this year, the Syracuse alum played on approximately 55% of San Diego’s defensive snaps last year, rushing the passer or defending the run on nearly every play (he saw just 14 coverage snaps). Freeney accrued just 3.5 sacks, but placed third among qualifying 3-4 OLBs with 40 quarterback hurries, and 14th with nine QB hits.
Playing in San Diego also provided Freeney with some more experience playing as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 system, something he figures to do in Arizona as well. According to Getlin (via Twitter), Freeney will serve as a designated pass rusher for the Cardinals, who lose John Abraham in a similar role last year.
Assuming he still has something left in the tank, Freeney should help bolster a pass rush that also features Alex Okafor, LaMarr Woodley, and Calais Campbell. Freeney may also be required to take a chunk of Okafor’s snaps if a calf injury the 24-year-old suffered in yesterday’s win over the Lions sidelines him at all going forward.