Dwight Freeney was one of the premier free agents on the market this offseason, but it still took him more than two months to find a home. He believes there was a clear-cut, and shady, reason behind it, too.
Freeney did just turn 33 and his numbers have started to dip over the past few years, but you’d figure teams would at least take a gander at the seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end. He says that wasn’t the case.
“It takes one team to start things going,” said Freeney, “but what was strange was initially there was no one team.”
He wasn’t the only one getting shut out either. It took All-Pro defensive back Charles Woodson even longer to finally find a home in Oakland, and some former Pro Bowlers, like John Abraham and Richard Seymour, still haven’t found work. Even some younger talent like Cliff Avril, who signed with the Seattle Seahawks for two years and $15 million, and Elvis Dumervil, who landed a five-year deal worth $26 million, got chump change compared to their expected value.
Freeney surveyed the totality of free agency and could only surmise that there was some serious collusion among NFL owners.
“I basically think the owners got together and decided not to spend the cash on free agents,” Freeney said. “I definitely think that’s part of it. I think the owners made a pact. There’s only 32 of them and none of them broke ranks. I think they all decided not to spend money.”
Collusion or not, Freeney doesn’t have much to complain about. He just landed a two-year, $13 million contract with more than $3 million guaranteed. Maybe it’s not what he was expecting, but, at his age, that seems like above-market value.