Freeman played five seasons in Miami
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
By Len Pasquarelli

Making a pre-draft move to bolster a position they will likely address in the lottery as well, the Green Bay Packers have signed unrestricted free agent safety Arturo Freeman, who had spent his entire career with the Miami Dolphins.

The deal reunites him with defensive coordinator Jim Bates. Freeman, a five-year veteran, signed a one-year contract, financial details of which were not available. Bates, who was hired by the Packers as their new coordinator two months ago, held the same position in Miami for Freeman's entire tenure there. He was the Dolphins' interim head coach for the final two months of the 2004 season after the departure of Dave Wannstedt.

The acquisition of Freeman, who visited with Green Bay coaches and team officials for two days last week, addresses a considerable area of need. The Packers almost certainly will further add to the safety depth chart in the draft and have met in recent days with at least two prospects at the position.

Green Bay released starting safety and two-time Pro Bowl performer Darren Sharper last month in a salary cap move. The team had earlier released Michael Hawthorne and lost the versatile Bhawoh Jue as an unrestricted free agent. Jue signed with San Diego and Sharper with Minnesota.

The exodus left veteran Mark Roman, who started 15 games in '04 but was disappointing in his first season with the club, as the lone experienced safety on the roster.

Given his experience as a part-time starter in Miami, and his familiarity with Bates and his schemes, Freeman should challenge for a starting job in 2005.

A former South Carolina star, Freeman, 28, was a fifth-round choice in the 2000 draft. He appeared in 72 games and started 29 of them, and finished his Dolphins career with 199 tackles, five interceptions, two forced fumbles and one recovery.

In terms of pass coverage, Freeman is coming off his best season, having tied for the team lead in 2004 with four interceptions.