Dwight Freeney had been waiting patiently in the unemployment wings while a potential suitor proved itself. The 13-year veteran wanted to win, and wasn't going to sacrifice his body just to return to the couch in January.
"I didn't want to go somewhere and lose, get my body beat up for nothing," Freeney told Bleacher Report.
Eventually he took his talents to Arizona, where the Cardinals, sitting pretty atop the NFC West, signed him to a one-year contract. With a dominant secondary, Bruce Arians' squad has scared offenses in the early goings and looks like a major player for the Super Bowl. His motor regenerated, Freeney felt it was the perfect fit for him to take the next step in his career.
"It's hard to turn off. I can't turn it off," Freeney added. "What people don't get is that football becomes a part of you. It becomes really addictive. The thing with me is that I felt like I still had something left in the tank. It's toughest to be out when you think you can still play, and I think I can still play.
"I'm in great shape. It's almost like I don't want to waste it."
Freeney won't be able to be an every-down guy in the desert. As talented as he is, he has too many miles on those legs to be playing at his best for 60 minutes. Last season, Freeney's production waned as he started just nine of 16 games last year in San Diego and recorded just 3.5 sacks. However, he insists that personal accolades don't matter to him anymore and aren't motivating his decision to return.
"There's also just how much I love football. Really love it," Freeney continued. "People don't get that either. I have enough money. I'm not playing for that reason. I came back because I really love it. I know there will be a time when I have to give it up. Not now. I can't walk away now. I'm too competitive to walk away now."