The New England Patriots need to sign linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins to extensions. Both are free agents at the end of the season and both should be considered top ten players in the league at their position.
The Globe’s Ben Volin is reporting that the Patriots have signed a linebacker to an extension. No, it’s not a new deal for Hightower or Collins.
It’s for linebacker Jonathan Freey.
#Patriots have signed a linebacker to a contract extension, but not the one you think. Jonathan Freeny just re-upped with the Pats— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) August 27, 2016
I’m told it’s a 2-year extension for #Patriots LB Jonathan Freeny. Core special teams player and an athletic backup for Jamie Collins— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) August 27, 2016
I’m incredibly confused. Really. Freeny is a fine special teams player, but he struggles on defense in both the passing and the running game. He struggles to set the edge against the run, he often overpursues the ball carrier, and he looks lost in coverage in open space.
In 2015, Freeny was third linebacker on the depth chart, behind Hightower and Collins, but it was painfully obvious that Jerod Mayo was the superior player. By the end of the year, Freeny dropped in the depth chart and Mayo regained his spot in the lineup. Mayo is now retired.
This past week it became clear that Freeny is behind Hightower, Collins, Shea McClellin, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Elandon Roberts, and Ramon Humber when it comes to defensive prowess. Rob Ninkovich and the newly acquired Barkevious Mingo might deserve mentions, too.
So the fact that Freeny is not only the first linebacker to receive an extension, but that it’s a two-year deal is a head scratcher. He is now a lock to make the final roster.
I’m all for players getting deals, so congratulations to Freeny. But based on his play on the field, I don’t understand the move by the Patriots front office.