Before we dive into this opinion article, I want to preface it by saying that this is just that -- an opinion article. I have no inside sources telling me anything. I am simply looking at the way the current Cardinals roster is constructed and putting pieces together.
Dwight Freeney was a godsend for the Cardinals last season. Coming in off the streets just in time for the Pittsburgh Steelers game, Freeney added multiple qualities that the Arizona Cardinals simply lacked. First, it was that of an experienced, dominant pass rusher. In 13 games (including the two postseason matches), Freeney managed to tally up nine sacks, which led the team.
Another thing the former Colts linebacker provided was a level of leadership to the linebacker room. As we saw on the Amazon All or Nothing series, Freeney wasn't afraid to get in the film room with the young guys and show them a few things. He even showed them what a good homemade Jamaican chicken meal looks like.
Freeney has publicly stated on multiple occasions that he still has gas left in the tank at age 36 and would definitely love to come back and play for the Cardinals once again. But the whole reason a contract hasn't already been inked is because the Cardinals don't really have room for him.
Let's paint a picture here:
It's 3rd and long and the Cardinals are on defense. They obviously want their best pass rushers on the field given that it is an obvious passing down. They're setting up in a dime formation, with six defensive backs on the field. That leaves five other guys to play in the box. On the defensive line in this situation, Calais Campbell is a given, followed by either Rodney Gunter or Robert Nkemdiche. Deone Bucannon doesn't leave the field and he's in at middle linebacker. That leaves two outside linebackers on each side to try and take down the quarterback.
On one side, Chandler Jones is obviously going to be there. You don't give up a 2nd round pick for a premium pass rusher to not play him in situations like this. That leaves one remaining spot, which likely goes to Markus Golden. If it's not Golden, there's also the possibilities of Alex Okafor, Kareem Martin or Shaq Riddick, assuming he takes a step up in 2016.
So I ask you: where does Dwight Freeney fit in? The answer, quite simply, is that he doesn't. And this is likely the thought process Steve Keim has gone through in figuring that the team doesn't need to re-sign him.
I don't expect Freeney to take the field in a Cardinals uniform unless there are a couple of devastating injuries that occur. But what do you think? With all of this in mind, is there room for Freeney in the desert?