Vaughn McClure of ESPN reports that the Atlanta Falcons are not planning on signing free-agent defensive end Dwight Freeney, who met with the team earlier today. McClure reports that Falcons head coach Dan Quinn did not rule out signing Freeney at a later date however.
The Falcons brought in Freeney to meet with team officials as they look to upgrade a pass rush that ranked dead last in the NFL in 2015 with 19 sacks. Freeney is coming off a highly productive 2015 campaign with the Arizona Cardinals, leading that team with eight sacks despite only playing 256 snaps in 11 games. Freeney was used as a situational pass-rusher in Arizona last year and likely would have provided the same role in Atlanta.
Freeney, 36, is a seven-time Pro Bowler that put together an outstanding 11-year tenure with the Indianapolis Colts from 2002 to 2012. He collected 107.5 sacks over that span, which at the time of his departure was an all-time team record.
One of the league’s most prolific pass-rushers in recent history, Freeney was originally selected by the Colts in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft out of Syracuse. He immediately made an impact as a rookie with an impressive 13 sacks, which is tied with Reggie White for the third-highest total accumulated by a rookie defender in NFL history.
Freeney moved on from the Colts in 2013, signing with the San Diego Chargers. He spent two seasons there although missed most of his first season with a torn quadriceps. He had collected 0.5 sacks in the first four games of the season and responded with just 3.5 sacks in a full slate of games in 2014. He started nine games in 2014 before Melvin Ingram’s return to the lineup midway through the year put Freeney on the bench. He continued to be used as a situational pass-rusher across from Ingram after the latter’s return.
The Chargers let him go and Freeney went unsigned throughout the 2015 offseason. He was on the verge of retirement before the Cardinals signed him last October.