Punch Drunk Wonderland

End of an era – Colts part ways with Dwight Freeney

Indianapolis Colts, Dwight FreeneyThe Indianapolis Colts today informed Dwight Freeney that his contract would not be renewed. Freeney was an unrestricted free agent, and the Colts have opted to not re-up with the prolific pass rasher for 2013. That means he will be free to roam the open market for a 4-3 defense of his liking.

Freeney, 32, was drafted by the Colts with the 11th overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft. During his time in Indy he was a pass rushing menace. Over the course of 11 seasons he tallied 378 tackles (313 solo), 107.5 sacks, 44 forced fumbles, 14 passes defensed, and 3 fumble recoveries in 163 games played (143 starts). In the postseason, Freeney made 17 starts and piled up 37 tackles (31 solo), 9 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 pass defensed. He holds the Colts career and single season records for sacks and forced fumbles, and he is the only Colts player with 7 double-digit sack seasons (4 consecutive from 2002-2005). Freeney has been selected to the Pro Bowl seven times, and he currently ranks 21st on the NFL all time sacks list.

In 2012 Freeney was shoehorned into a linebacker role for the Colts in a new 3-4 system in which he would do his pass rushing from a two point stance. Granted, he still had his hand down plenty of times and the Colts defense throughout the season was more of a 4-3/3-4 hybrid than a 3-4 in a true sense. Freeney’s true ability comes out as an edge rusher in a 4-3 defense, and this move by the Colts in Freeney’s final contract season was just writing on the wall. The team is obviously ready to move into a new era on both sides of the ball.

While Freeney will be turning 33 next week, he still has potential as a solid edge rusher. There are plenty of teams in the NFL that run a 4-3 who could really use someone like him. An interesting potential landing place could be with the Minnesota Vikings, and such a move would create a pass rush tandem with Freeney and Jared Allen that would be a true terror for opposing quarterbacks. Another potential landing place could be the Colts’ AFC South rival, the Houston Texans, thus pairing Freeney with 2012 Defensive Player of the Year and league sack leader, J.J. Watt. Other teams with interest in Freeney could be the Kansas City Chiefs or Washington Redskins. Dan Snyder never seems to mind shelling out bucks for big names.

The Indianapolis Colts have been a team in transition for the last year, and they are still on the move. After a surprisingly successful 2012 season they will be looking to continue building in the offseason, and this move marks the first of many big ones.


K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...