Jerrell Freeman is wearing his ball cap to the side these days.
That means the Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker accepts life as it comes and he’s just “casual.” It’s all about assimilating with a new team during offseason training activities.
Freeman insists he’s not dwelling on his recent contract dispute, when he sat out the first week of OTAs in hopes of getting a better deal. That didn’t happen and the restricted free agent signed a one-year, $2.356 million offer for 2015.
“Once you’re here, it’s all about one thing, it’s just doing whatever you can to get better, master your craft, get all these young guys up to speed, and try to be the best team we can be,” Freeman said. “That business, once you step in the door, it’s out of here.”
He’s getting a raise from making $576,668 last season and will earn more next season than in his first three seasons combined, $1.46 million. But his current salary ranks 28th among NFL inside linebackers, so his reasons for wanting a new contract have merit.
Freeman has made 366 tackles with nine sacks and three interceptions since the Colts gave the Canadian Football League All-Star a second chance at the NFL in 2012. He’s led the team in tackles in two of his three seasons. He led the NFL in tackles with 32 in the last postseason.
Another solid season will get him paid, if not by the Colts than another team. The Colts’ leading tackler last season was inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who earned $4.75 million and will be paid $5.75 million this season. Jackson has said he understands what Freeman is going through, that the business side of football is one of the tougher realities to accept.
For now, the “casual” Freeman won’t say much more about it. He’s a team guy who is focused on working with his teammates. What’s in the past is in the past, including how last season ended, a 45-7 AFC Championship Game loss at New England.
“I look at (2014) as a complete year,” he said. “Regardless of how it ended, I want to be consistent throughout the whole year.”
He missed four games due to a hamstring injury last season.
“It’s good to end it on a good note as an individual,” Freeman said, “but I don’t care if I had one or two tackles a game and no stats, man, I just want to do whatever I can for the team to get these W’s, regardless of what I do.”
Jackson has said the Patriots loss left a bitter taste in his mouth. Freeman reiterates he’s about the here and now, not last January in Foxborough, Mass.
“You’ve got to move on,” he said. “It’s just like a big win or a horrible loss, man, you’ve got to be able to move on as a professional.
“Of course, it’s a big playoff game. It’s the last game we played. It’s going to stick with you a little bit. Of course, you don’t want to let it happen again. That’s why we’re here now.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.