Jerrell Freeman was a nice signing for the Chicago Bears in 2016. However, his days with the organization may be numbered.
Jerrell Freeman signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Chicago Bears in 2016. However, they may only end up getting one strong year out of it. After news that Freeman will now likely miss all of 2017 with a torn pectoral, the team could be moving on from Freeman altogether in 2018.
All of the signs are there. Freeman will be 32 next season. 30 is usually the age when players start to see their decline. Freeman has had some injury issues in his past but wound up missing time due to a suspension for Performance Enhancing Drugs in 2016. It is not fair to say that Freeman being off of PED’s played a part in getting hurt early in the season, but it certainly could have played a factor. That, along with his age makes him a health question every year moving forward.
Even more than that is the money. It always comes down to money. If cut in 2018, the Bears save $3.5 million on the salary cap. On the open market, $3.5 million could be the difference between Desean Jackson and Robert Woods. Or the difference between A.J. Bouye and Logan Ryan.
The Bears are not looking for help at middle linebacker. They seem to like Nick Kwiatkowski, who had a strong season as a rookie in 2016. The second-year linebacker can finish the season beside Danny Trevathan, and if the team is comfortable with it, that can be the starting duo in 2018. The Bears can use the money saved from Freeman to improve the team at other positions that are much more in need than inside linebacker.
Salute to Freeman. Over his 13 games in Chicago, he may have been the best player on the field for all 13 of them. However, his long-term future is questionable, to say the least, and may be shorter than even he anticipates.