As we just noted in the Lard, Mike Florio is hearing that Peyton Manning has made clear to the Broncos that he'd like to them to sign his former Colts teammate Dwight Freeney.
While speculation of Freeney to Denver didn't make a ton of sense last week, it's a more viable option given the latest developments with Elvis Dumervil.
We've noted that Elvis's narrower role in the Broncos defense is likely the biggest reason the team doesn't want to pay him $12M this season.
That doesn't mean his skills have diminished; rather, it suggests the Broncos feel they can get that job done for a cheaper price.
When Elvis signs with another team for $8M-10M/year, puts up 14 sacks in 2013, and makes the Pro Bowl again, that won't mean the Broncos screwed up. Like Ted wrote in his excellent column, Jack Del Rio's scheme limits both Elvis's ability and his statistical production.
So, who could carry out that more tightly defined assignment for JDR and the Broncos?
Perhaps Freeney's the guy. In an Insider piece for ESPN, former Colts GM Bill Polian lists his top free agents, along with notes for each. Here's what he says about Freeney in his intro:
Dwight Freeney might be a great pickup for a team utilizing a Wide-9 scheme, although he makes less sense as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 set.
Polian reinforces that point later on:
As you'd imagine I'm rather familiar with him. I see Freeney as a fit in a Wide-9 scheme or as a 4-3 DE. I believe he still has a lot of talent, but age is definitely a concern.
Robert Ayers on running downs, and Freeney on obvious passing downs? It's starting to make a lot of sense. As for salary, we're talking about a specialist here, intended to play only 400-500 snaps a season. How about $4M-5M for per year, for two or three years, with only the first season's salary guaranteed?
Then again, as Doug Farrar notes, Polian dropped this bit of ass-covering wisdom regarding Giants TE Martellus Bennett into that same article:
He's one of those free-agent gambles who might or might not pay off.
Polian's also the guy who wanted to trade Manning moments after Peyton had received the first of his four MVP awards, so there's that...