The Atlanta Falcons announced on Tuesday that they would sign a one-year deal with former Arizona Cardinals veteran defensive end, Dwight Freeney, putting the team at the 90-man roster limit.
Two months ago, on June 1, the Atlanta Falcons passed on signing Dwight Freeney. He didn’t work out with the team, but instead came for a visit. At the time, the Falcons gave the answer: “not right now,” but head coach Dan Quinn did say that the team wouldn’t “rule out adding Freeney at some point down the road.”
Many Falcons fans were hopeful that the team would pick up Freeney when news broke last week that kick returner Devin Hester was released the day before camp. On Tuesday, Aug. 2nd, it was reported that outside linebacker Dwight Freeney would in fact carry out his 15th NFL season with the Atlanta Falcons.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Freeney will sign with the Falcons, who he chose over the Cincinnati Bengals. In joining the Atlanta Falcons, he will be reunited with linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who also played with the Cardinals last season.The addition of Freeney puts the Falcons at the 90-man roster limit.
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"Freeney’s knack for stripping the ball goes hand-in-hand with head coach Dan Quinn’s philosophy of being relentless and having a high regard for the ball. He has recorded 47 career forced fumbles, which ranks third in NFL history, according to STATS LLC. Last season, with the Arizona Cardinals, Freeney recorded three forced fumbles – a team high. To a group of guys who compete every day to take the ball away, Freeney will be will be a welcomed sight. The Falcons only recorded 12 forced fumbles last season, with Vic Beasley Jr. leading the way with two."
The 36-year-old, 6’1”, 268lb. linebacker spent his college days at Syracuse University, where his overall college career consisted of 104 tackles, 34 quarterback sacks, 51 tackle for a loss, and 43 quarterback pressures. At one point, Freeney even sacked Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Michael Vick four and a half times…in the same game.
Freeney‘s pro football career began as the 11th pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2002 NFL Draft. By his third season, he led the NFL with 16 sacks, and became known for his signature “spin move” that became detrimental to offensive linemen.
In October 2015, he signed a one year deal with the Arizona Cardinals, and was later named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 16, appearing in nine games with eight sacks and three forced fumbles. Overall, Freeney has totaled 119.5 sacks, 47 forced fumbles, and 319 tackles in 194 career games. He also has a Super Bowl XLI with the Colts, a seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro player under his belt.
Undoubtedly, the addition of Freeney is a major victory for the Atlanta Falcons. Though he may be 36, he could still have a great deal left to give in pass rush situations. He had eight sacks last season with the Cardinals, which happens to be double that of the Falcons’ Vic Beasley, who had four.
Not only is he an established pass rusher and future hall-of-famer, but Freeney will be able to aid the Falcons off the field as well. As a vet, he could also serve as a mentor and leader for younger players, including linebacker Vic Beasley and rookie De’Vondre Campbell. Welcome to Atlanta, Freeney!