The Indianapolis Colts on Friday notified outside linebacker Dwight Freeney, one of the most accomplished defenders in club history, as well as wide receiver Austin Collie, that they will not be retained.
Both players’ contracts expire March 12. Neither departure is unexpected but Freeney played with exceptional distinction through most of his 11 seasons as a Colt and forever tied his legacy to the team’s.
“Few people have meant as much to the success of the Indianapolis Colts as Dwight Freeney,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a statement. “He has been a dominant player, which is all the more impressive considering his size for his position, and he has won a lot of games for this franchise.
“Dwight was an artist, a joy to watch, and the dedication he put toward his craft was a rare quality. We will miss him, but look forward to his future induction into the Hall of Fame and Colts Ring of Honor.”
Some saw Freeney (6-1, 268) as too small to be a top pass rusher coming out of Syracuse in 2002 but the Colts made him the draft’s 11th overall pick and he became one of the game’s most disruptive players. He played in seven Pro Bowls and leaves as the team’s career leader with 107 1/2 sacks. His 44 forced fumbles from 2002-12 were an NFL high.
Freeney had career lows of 12 tackles and five sacks last season while making the transition from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker. He spoke frequently of his desire to remain with the team, but knew that was unlikely.
“I’m 32 years old, turning 33 (Feb. 19), going into my 12th year,” Freeney said as the season neared its end. “Numbers not the best, making a lot of money... That’s not really a good combination for staying in an organization.
Colts part ways with Dwight Freeney, Austin Collie
Indianapolis Star | Feb 15