According to NFL.com, the Denver Broncos are lining up Dwight Freeney to replace Elvis Dumervil, if the latter refuses to accept a pay cut. Apparently the Broncos are keen for Dumervil to reduce his considerable salary, which would see him make $12 million this season.
Dumervil is now 29 and has never been a force against the run. However, he is a stellar pass-rusher off the edge. The diminutive and cat-quick defensive end tallied 11 sacks in 2012 and has 63.5 as a Bronco.
In Denver's current defensive scheme, Dumervil forms a dominating tandem with versatile rush linebacker Von Miller. Yet while Miller is a player on the rise, Dumervil is viewed as a declining force.
Of course the same can certainly be said of Freeney. The former Indianapolis Colts star is certainly in the twilight of his excellent and lengthy career. He has always been an elite pass-rusher, but at 33, it remains to be seen if Freeney can still be a starter.
A return to the kind of 4-3 defense the Broncos play would certainly help. Freeney struggled to transition to the Colts' hybrid 3-4 front last season. He posted only five sacks and hasn't registered double-digit quarterback takedowns since 2010.
However, it may be too soon to write Freeney off just yet. After all this is a defensive playmaker with 107.5 sacks and 43 forced fumbles for his career. His first step quickness and low centre of gravity remain dangerous weapons on the pass rush.
Freeney's devastating spin move has also become the stuff of legend. A pass-rusher so accomplishe, doesn't ever lose the knack for getting to the quarterback. So Freeney certainly still has the skills to boost Denver's defense, either in a starting or situational role.
There is also his connection to quarterback Peyton Manning to consider. Freeney and Manning won a Super Bowl together in Indianapolis and combined to make the Colts a consistent contender.
Perhaps more importantly, Freeney is well-known to Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. He terrorised Del Rio's Jacksonville Jaguars teams for years in the AFC South. Del Rio knows as well as anyone what Freeney can do in the right scheme.
This is all assuming the Broncos interest in the greybeard rush end is real. NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal speculates that interest in Freeney could be a ploy to encourage Dumervil to accept the wage reduction.
However, if the Broncos do part ways with Dumervil, Freeney could be the perfect replacement for a veteran team built to win a Super Bowl now.1090112