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Dwight Freeney was one week from retiring when Arians called him

Friday, January 15, 2016 10:12:00 AM America/Los_Angeles

After 13 years in the NFL, Dwight Freeney was just about ready for retirement. And why not? He'd racked up 111.5 sacks in those 13 seasons, already the 20th most all time.

He'd combined for just four sacks in 20 games across the previous two seasons with the Chargers, though, and he was still sitting available in free agency a few weeks into the NFL season. Then Bruce Arians gave him a call.

"I said screw this, I'm 'bout to retire...& then Bruce gave me that call. Honestly, I was 1 week away from retiring"

So Freeney signed up with Arians' Arizona Cardinals for the rest of the season. And all he did was rack up eight sacks in only 11 games, despite playing only 264 snaps. Freeney also finished with 36 quarterback pressures (sacks plus hits plus hurries), and he did that on just 208 pass-rushing snaps, per Pro Football Focus' tracking. That rate of pressure was fourth highest among 3-4 outside linebackers that played at least 200 snaps.

Now he's a valuable piece of a Cardinals defense that will be trying its darnedest to get after Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Saturday so they can advance to the NFC title game. Not bad for a year's worth of work from a guy that was about to hang 'em up for good.

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