Dwight Freeney's desire to win a Super Bowl in his 15th Hall-of-Fame season has translated to a tryout in Cincinnati. ESPN's Coley Harvey reported Freeney is trying out for the Bengals this week and it's believed the workout is Wednesday.
Following the script of several offseasons, the Bengals are kicking the tires on elite or projected elite pass rushers. But they've never tried out a rusher as decorated as Freeney, a future Hall-of-Famer with 119.5 sacks, 19th on the all-time list and fourth on the active list after posting eight sacks for the Cardinals last year on just 25 percent of the snaps while listed as a linebacker and one more in the postseason.
Shortly after the season Freeney turned 36. It was his most sacks since he had 8.5 in 2011, his next-to-last season with the Colts, the team that took him out Syracuse with the 11th pick in 2002.
Freeney is a 4-3 end and although at 6-1, 265 pounds he's not the classic tall, Bengals end, he fits the scheme as defensive coordinator Paul Guenther looks to add some juice to a pass rush that already boasts two Pro Bowlers in left end Carlos Dunlap and tackle Geno Atkins.
The Bengals lost right end and nickel tackle Wallace Gilberry in free agency and were planning to replace him with a combination of talented but untried rushers in tackle Marcus Hardison and ends Will Clarke and Margus Hunt. The sense seems to be a guy like Freeney teamed with Dunlap, Atkins and right end Michael Johnson would get a bunch of sacks.
Head coach Marvin Lewis has tried this before when it comes to pass rushers.
In his second season in 2004 he brought in all-time Steeler sack leader Jason Gildon before they decided not to sign him and in 2013 he plucked Steelers Pro Bowl sacker James Harrison for one season. But both were 3-4 linebackers that really didn't fit the pass rush specs of a 4-3, although Harrison was immense against the run in helping the Bengals' third-ranked defense win an AFC North title.
Lewis also brought in former first-round pass rushers in Aaron Maybin and Derrick Harvey, but they didn't make the club and were cut. In 2012 the Bengals signed Jamaal Anderson, the eighth pick in the 2007 draft, but he got hurt in the first few weeks of the season.
But Freeney is the best package of player and fit of that group. Profootballfocus.com categorized him as a linebacker that took 264 snaps in a 3-4-type scheme last season. It's believed Freeney wants to win one more Super Bowl before he goes to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Bengals have apparently convinced him he's got a shot here.