Freeney's salary for the 2007 season was increased from $8.64 million to $9.43 million because of a stipulation in the NFL's collective bargaining agreement. Freeney's value was helped Thursday when the New Orleans Saints inked defensive end Charles Grant to a seven-year deal worth up to $63 million. Grant's deal includes $20 million in guarantees with $24 million due within the first three years of the contract.
When the Colts "tagged" Freeney, they made him an "exclusive" franchise player so that he could not negotiate with other teams in the offseason. As a result, he would be compensated the higher amount of the top-five paid defensive ends for the 2006 or '07 seasons.
As a "non-exclusive" franchise player, guys are allowed to negotiate with other teams, giving the original team the option of receiving two first-round picks as compensation if the player departs.
"It's a nice boost and it helps in the long term, too, if we can't get a long-term deal worked out somewhere down the line," Freeney's agent Gary Wichard said Thursday.
Wichard and the Colts are expected to work on a long-term deal later this offseason. If the two sides can't agree on a long-term deal and the team franchises him again in 2008, his base pay would increase by at least 20 percent to $11.3 million.
Freeney recorded at least 11 sacks in each of his first four seasons, but had 5½ for the Super Bowl champion Colts last season.