Depending on your point of view, new Chicago Bears' inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman is either giving the Bears tremendous value with his $4 million cap hit this season, or he's severely underpaid. The 30 year old Freeman, who was one of the better free agent inside linebackers seeking work this offseason, signed a 3 year deal worth $12 million, including $6 million guaranteed with the Bears shortly after they inked ILB Danny Trevathan. The two new ILBs are a serious upgrade over the duo of Shea McClellin and Christian Jones from last year.
Trevathan, who is four years younger than Freeman, signed a 4 year deal worth $24.5 million, with $12 million guaranteed. While playing for the Denver Broncos in 2015, Trevathan had 109 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 quarterback hits, 2 interceptions and 6 passes defended.
Last year Freeman racked up 112 total tackles, 3 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 6 quarterback hits, 1 interception (TD), 2 passed defended and a fumble recovery playing for the Indianapolis Colts. These two players are both three down type ILBs and they had comparable stats on their respective teams. So far during the offseason, each has been a vocal presence in the middle of the Bears defense.
In a recent ESPN Insider article titled, Ranking NFL's most underpaid veterans, they list Freeman at number 2. They use a formula consisting of the Pro Football Focus player ratings, positional pay scale and current cap hit to get a Jahnke Value Model (JVM). For more on the JVM, hit the link above. Here's what they had for Freeman.
2016 cap hit: $4 million
2016 JVM: $10.9 million
Value differential: $6.5 million
Arguably the biggest free-agent bargain this offseason was Freeman signing with the Bears and joining Danny Trevathan to make a potentially great inside linebacker pairing. Freeman played like a Pro Bowl linebacker last season but didn't get paid like one. It could be his age (30), only having a short history of great play, or the unorthodox path to the NFL that led to getting paid only $4 million per year each of the next three years. If the Bears can get the player Freeman was in Indianapolis, they'll be getting a bargain. Last season he had a run stop on 12.8 percent of his run plays, which was third best in the NFL.
What ever the reason for Freeman's market value being lower than expected, Bears' fans will be happy cheering him and the revamped Chicago D on this season.
What are you guys expecting from Freeman in 2016?