By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
The Indianapolis Colts and Dwight Freeney tried to make an awkward marriage work last season, but despite the best efforts from both parties the Pro Bowl defensive end never fully seemed comfortable as an outside linebacker in the team’s new hybrid 3-4 defense.
On Friday, the Colts decided to dissolve the relationship after 11 fruitful and productive years.
“Few people have meant as much to the success of the Indianapolis Colts as Dwight Freeney,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a team release. “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.”
Freeney was retained this season despite a salary cap hit of $19 million, and an ankle injury suffered in Week 1 at Chicago sidelined him for two full games.
When he was on the field, Freeney recorded just five sacks — the second-lowest total of his career — and a career-low 12 tackles. He was credited with one pass defensed and one forced fumble.
Freeney is scheduled to become a free agent on March 12, and Indianapolis informed him Friday it will not attempt to re-sign him.
“I was very surprised to hear they wanted to go in a different direction,” Freeney said in a text to ESPN’s Ed Werder. “Would have been nice to retire a Colt.”
Several reports said wide receiver Austin Collie was given the same news Friday by the team. Collie has suffered four concussions in the past three seasons and appeared in just one game in 2012 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Like Freeney, he is scheduled to become a free agent March 12.
Freeney was a starter for the Colts in their Super Bowl XLI victory against the Bears and the Super Bowl XLIV loss to New Orleans. A seven-time Pro Bowler, he is the franchise leader with 107.5 career sacks and also holds team single-season records for sacks and forced fumbles.
Collie caught 173 passes for 1,845 yards and 16 touchdowns in 42 games over four seasons.