Freeney Says He's Confident A Long-Term Deal Will Be Worked Out

Monday, March 26th 2007, 3:33 pm
By: News On 6

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Dwight Freeney said he's optimistic he'll sign a new long-term contract with the Indianapolis Colts, despite being made the team's franchise player.

Freeney, a former high school star in Connecticut and first-round draft pick in 2002, was honored at the state Capitol Monday.

He told The Associated Press that he understands the business decision by the Colts to give him the franchise tag, which blocked him from becoming a free agent this year.

"They have to lock me in until we can get something done," he said. "I mean, that's just what it is. If they don't franchise me right now, what are they going to do, leave me on the market? If I'm on the market, who knows what's going to happen, it's going to be crazy."

Freeney would have become an unrestricted free agent March 2 without a new contract. The franchise tag means the Colts can keep him by matching any offer sheet he might sign from another team. If they chose not to match it, the Colts would get the other team's first-round draft picks in 2007 and 2008 as compensation.

As a franchise player, he's guaranteed $8,644,000, the average salary of the top five defensive ends next season.

Freeney said the negotiations on a longer contract are going well.

"As long as we get something done, we're fine," Freeney said. "It's going good. Hopefully we can get something done. We have until July 15 to get something done, so we have time."

Freeney missed the Pro Bowl this year for the first time since his rookie season. He was held to a career-low 5 1/2 sacks while fighting shoulder and leg injuries.

Team president Bill Polian said earlier this month that the Colts were not going to let him get away.

"There's no timeline, but we're still talking with the idea of putting together a longer deal," he said. "He's a key part of our team."