CBS is reporting that Adrian Peterson is actively recruiting former Colts Pro Bowler Dwight Freeney to become a member of the Vikings. As you know the defensive end is now on the market after being told by the Colts that he will not be retained as an unrestricted free agent. Darren Woolfson tweeted about the report, “Source says the
#Vikings have not reached out yet to [Freeney's] agent. Maybe will this week.”
Our first reaction to this report is, “Wait a second, why would the Vikings be after Dwight Freeney? Don’t they already have more than enough outside pass rushers?” But let’s look a little deeper at this before we go making our minds up.
Why might the Vikings be interested in Freeney? For one thing, he was a great force as a defensive end for years with the Colts when they played a defense similar to the Vikes. So we know he fits the scheme. Then we look at Alan Williams and how he likes to run the defense. Last year there was talk of Williams employing a defensive line rotation featuring at least eight guys constantly swapping in and out. Williams likened the approach to the way hockey teams use different lines. This statement led to controversy when Jared Allen objected, saying he would rather sit out practice than miss reps during games.
The hockey line approach never really materialized during the season though. Allen ended up playing the majority of snaps at his traditional right defensive end position, and Brian Robison was in there most of the time at left defensive end until he got banged up late in the season. Everson Griffen was the only other guy to get significant snaps at defensive end. Christian Ballard got a little time out there but was mostly used at defensive tackle.
Now this Dwight Freeney rumor floats across our radars screens and we have to wonder if the rotational approach isn’t coming back into the picture for the Vikings. Clearly a guy like Jared Allen would benefit from getting more snaps off during the season. But would two alpha dogs like Allen and Freeney be able to co-exist on the same line? As cool as the idea might seem – rotating two of the greatest defensive ends of our lifetime to create a one-two punch from hell for quarterbacks – there are lots of reasons why it’s not practical. The main one being ego. The second one being Jared Allen’s massive $17 million cap number for 2013.
Here’s where things get intriguing for me. What do you do about Jared’s $17 million number? It’s already been suggested that Jared might be amenable to renegotiation. But what if he’s not? What if Jared has already been approached about this idea and he’s dead-set against it? Do you really go into 2013, the last year of Jared’s deal, intending to pay him his full salary? Or do you seriously consider the possibility of cutting Allen and going with a lower-cost replacement. Like, for instance, Dwight Freeney, who will not cost anywhere near $17 million.
Not to open a whole can of worms or anything. But I think this plan might make real sense for the Vikings. Freeney may be past his prime but I think you can make the same argument about Jared Allen. The difference between the two men is obvious. One of them is set to make $17 million this year and the other is not. Obviously there would be a cap penalty of some kind if you cut Allen, but it still might make more financial sense to let him go now and pick up Freeney for a year as a replacement, knowing you also have Everson Griffen as part of the rotation.
I’m just throwing that out there. So far all this stuff is rumors. Who knows where the Vikings will end up going. I do know that they won’t pay Jared Allen what they currently owe him for 2013. If this thing ends up with Jared wanting out of Minnesota, Freeney could prove to be a nice back-up option.