Freeney, who injured his foot in the fourth quarter of Sunday night's 23-21 loss at San Diego when an unidentified Chargers' offensive lineman rolled up his leg, underwent tests Monday. The extent of the damage is not known, but Colts president Bill Polian said he believed Freeney could miss four or more games.
"We anticipate that Dwight will miss some significant amount of
time," said Polian, who made the announcement on his
weekly radio show Monday night. The news was later posted on the team's Web site.
The Colts signed Freeney in July to a six-year deal, paying an average of $12 million. He has 21 tackles and 3½ sacks on the season.
Rice, 34, was let go by the Broncos on Friday after he requested his release. The league's second-leading active sacker, Rice appeared in six games during his short-lived stint with the Broncos but was unhappy over his lack of playing time and the fact Denver coaches were using him at the unfamiliar left end position.
"We think it'll be a positive addition for us ... and hopefully it will pay some dividends for us down the road,'' Polian said during his radio show.
In 2001, his first season in Tampa Bay, Rice played under Tony Dungy when Dungy was the Bucs' head coach, so the two have history. In his six games with the Broncos, Rice, who underwent offseason surgery to correct a shoulder problem, had only seven tackles and did not record a sack.
The Colts (7-2) will assume the one-year contract Rice signed with Denver, which was worth $3 million but included a base salary of only $820,000. Prorated over the balance of the season, the deal will cost Indianapolis just $337,647 if it keeps Rice for the final seven weeks.
Concerns about his shoulder and his age, along with his performance with the Broncos, probably dissuaded some teams from considering him. But with Freeney possibly sidelined for a while, Rice could provide a boost to the Indianapolis pass rush and should be available to play right away.
For Rice, the move is an opportunity to join a playoff contender.
Rice was released by Tampa Bay on the eve of training camp after six seasons with the Bucs, when the team said that he had failed a physical examination because of the shoulder injury that limited him to only eight appearances in 2006. Rice contended that the release was because he refused to accept a reduction of his 2007 base salary of $7.25 million.
After visiting with several franchises as a free agent, Rice signed the one-year, $3 million contract with the Broncos on Sept. 3. Rice acknowledged recently that he regretted signing with the Broncos. He demonstrated some flashes of his trademark upfield quickness, but Denver officials privately questioned the soundness of his shoulder and hinted he still wasn't fully recovered.
Rice has long been one of the NFL's premier sack threats. His 121 career sacks trail only Michael Strahan of the New York Giants. He has eight seasons with double-digit sacks. His streak of five consecutive seasons with 10 or more sacks was ended last year because of the shoulder injury.
The normally durable Rice had missed just one game in his first 10 seasons in the league.
Rice was originally chosen by the Arizona Cardinals in the first round of the 1996 draft.
In 172 regular-season games, he has 590 tackles, 37 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries, five interceptions and 60 pass deflections.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com