Dwight Freeney has not made up his mind yet if he will return to the NFL for his 16th season in the league. While NFL.com reports there is mutual interest between the defensive star and the Atlanta Falcons, other teams could pursue the man who has 122.5 career sacks and would be a solid presence in the locker room as well as on the field.
The Jacksonville Jaguars should be one of them.
Despite signing defensive end Calais Campbell in the offseason and drafted Dawuane Smoot in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft, Sweeney could still be a valuable asset on passing downs. The 2002 first-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts made a living terrorizing the Jacksonville Jaguars in his prime, which may be one reason the team can take a flier on him as a rotational player on the defensive line. Sweeney could also play at outside linebacker if needed.
According to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, the Falcons and Sweeney have talked about a return to the team, but nothing has been agreed upon yet. "That line of communication is still very open. They say they're still very interest," Freeney said. "I'm planning to reach out to them here soon and hopefully we both believe they want me back and playing for them."
Freeney played for the Colts (2002–2012), the San Diego Chargers (2013–2014), and the Arizona Cardinals (2015) before coming to Atlanta last season. He has 122.5 sacks in his career and his resume in the NFL is as good as anyone who has played the game.
Freeney is a Super Bowl Champion with the Colts in 2006, a seven-time Pro Bowl player, a three-time First Team All-Pro and was the AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2005.
Freeney is one of those “Tom Coughlin” type of players who would help this team mentor younger defensive players and could be an influence on Dante Fowler – who is entering his third year in the league, but second season on the field.
There is no word if the Jaguars have interest in Freeney. The pass rush was improved through free agency and the Draft, but this is a franchise that still has to work on getting to the quarterback. There are never enough pass rushers on an NFL roster.
Freeney could be a low-risk, high-reward player who would not take a huge bite out of the team’s existing cap space.