Jerrell Freeman signs contract

Inside linebacker had sought a multi-year deal, but accepts one-year, $2.35 million qualifying offer for 2015 season.

Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman ended his pursuit for a multi-year contract by signing his restricted free agent tender Monday.

He will be paid $2.35 million for the upcoming season, and can then become an unrestricted free agent in 2016.

Freeman, 28, had put off signing his qualifying offer and skipped the opening week of offseason training activities because he wanted a new contract. But Friday was the deadline for other NFL teams to make an offer — which would have cost a second-round draft choice if the Colts chose not to match. No other offer meant Freeman didn’t have any leverage in his situation.

His leverage was also weakened by the Colts signing Denver Broncos free-agent linebacker Nate Irving to a three-year contract last month. The inside linebacker is recovering from a season-ending knee injury but is expected to be ready for training camp.

The fourth-year pro has been a bargain since arriving from the Canadian Football League in 2012. He was paid $1.46 million combined for the past three seasons, when he made 366 tackles with nine sacks. He led the team in tackles for a season in two of those seasons.

While injuries sidelined him for four games last season, he played his best football in the postseason, leading the league in tackles with 32 in three playoff starts.

In 2012, Freeman was credited with 145 tackles by the NFL, although team coaches reviewed game film and counted a franchise-record 203 total tackles. The Colts list him as just the second player in franchise history to ever surpass 200 tackles in a season.

Last season, he led the Colts in tackles in eight games and finished the season with 95 total stops in 12 games.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.

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