For the past two seasons, Freddy Keiaho has been flying to the ball as a
linebacker with the Indianapolis Colts. Selected in the
third round of the 2006 NFL Draft, the 26-year-old defender will be an
unrestricted free agent at the end of this month.
Teams who have seen him play will undoubtedly be watching to see what level
of a contract tender that Indianapolis puts in front of Keiaho. Due to his
ability to hit gaps with a startling quickness, his strong football instincts,
and his solid tackling technique, Keiaho could ring-up lots of frequent flyer
miles if the Colts try to get away with offering him the lowest tender. That
said, he's made it clear that he'd love to stay in Indianapolis.
The 5-foot-11, 226-pound linebacker had a voidable year inserted into his
rookie deal as part of a compromise that was struck between the team and his
agent. It's not something that Keiaho requested as part of his standard
negotiations, but due to some miscalculations, it helped provide the solution
that allowed him to report to training camp.
"Everybody was trying to get to camp, but my agent wouldn't let me go unless I had a fair
deal," Keiaho told Scout.com. "He was able to work things out with Mr. Polian and the Colts organization, and it was a pretty good compromise for all of us.
AP Photo/A.J. Mast
"They had 'x' amount of points left in the
salary cap--it was just a miscalculation--and that's just the way things worked out. Had Tim Jennings been drafted in the third round, it could have been Tim Jennings entering free agency this year."
When he was drafted in the third round out of San Diego state, there were
some nay-sayers in the media and in the Colts fan community who felt that the
team had used too high of a pick on the San Diego State linebacker. But it
really boiled down to the fact that he wasn't that well known nationally at the time he was drafted.
When you looked at his speed, skill set and temperament, he was a perfect match
for the Colts organization.
Keiaho also had the ability to play any linebacker position for the Colts.
And over the course of his first three seasons, he saw action at all three
"My rookie year, I played Sam and Mike. Then two years ago I played all three linebacker
positions," he said. "And this past year I mainly played Will, but also got to play at Mike."
The Colts made an earlier-than-expected departure from the playoffs this
year, losing in overtime to the San Diego Chargers in the Divisional Playoffs
round. The disappointment still lingers with Keiaho.
"It was unfortunate,
you always want to get to the big game," he said. "I thought we had a really good chance this year, but we were just a third-down conversion away, and a couple penalties away in overtime."
Since then, the personable linebacker has done some traveling that included a
stop in Washington, D.C. for the presidential inauguration, a trip to Vermont,
and then a cross-country trek to San Diego.
So where's his next stop?
That will largely be up to the Indianapolis Colts when they determine how
high of a tender offer to put in front of Keiho. According to the club's
records, Keiaho made 114 tackles, second-best on the team in 2008. He also
recovered two fumbles. And while he's been entrenched as a starter for the past
two seasons, the confident, yet humble player still believes he hasn't come
close to reaching his full potential.
"I feel like I'm still growing as a player, and I feel like I have much better football to
play," he said.
Scout.com subscribers can click here to read an exclusive interview with
Freddy Keiaho where he talks about the likelihood of switching teams versus
staying in Indianapolis. And he also shares his thoughts on the Colts
organization, his ability to play in a 3-4 defensive scheme, where he's made the
most progress as a player, and more.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features
are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can contact him by email
through this link.