As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Atlanta Falcons announced the signing of former Arizona Cardinals defensive end Dwight Freneey today. Schefter reports that Freeney will arrive in Atlanta later this week to sign a one-year deal with the Falcons. Freeney played last year with the Cardinals, leading that team with eight sacks in 11 games.
Freeney, 36, has been on the Falcons’ radar since June 1, when he visited with the team but was not signed at the time. Freeney is one of the league’s most productive pass-rushers, tallying 119.5 career sacks in 14 seasons in the NFL, which currently rank as the 19th most in league history and third highest among active pass-rushers. Freeney earned trips to seven Pro Bowls while playing 11 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts from 2002 to 2012.
He was originally drafted by the Colts in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft out of Syracuse. His immediate impact in the NFL came in the form of 13 sacks as a rookie, which is tied with Reggie White for the third-highest total by a rookie defender in NFL history.
After leaving Indianapolis, he had two lackluster seasons with the San Diego Chargers, with his 2013 campaign being cut short by a torn quadriceps. In 25 games, including 13 starts, over two seasons in San Diego, Freeney recorded just four sacks.
He rebounded with a prolific year with the Cardinals in 2015 relative to his limited playing time. Serving a limited role as a pass-rush specialist, Freeney recorded eight sacks in 11 games, which was his most productive season since 2011 when he had 8.5 sacks as a full-time starter.
Freeney will likely serve in the same limited capacity in Atlanta this year, splitting reps with right defensive end Adrian Clayborn in the team’s nickel sub-package. The Falcons are looking to improve a pass rush that ranked dead last in the NFL in 2015 with 19 sacks.