Indianapolis Colts: Dwight Freeney & Austin Collie Released

By Eric Smith
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Star confirmed the Indianapolis Colts have released defensive end Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Austin Collie today. That should come to no surprise to those that follow the Colts closely.

I’ve been saying it all season that the Colts would part ways with these two. There’s no reason to keep them on the roster from 2013 and beyond. Freeney, made $18 million last season and was slated to be a free agent. The Colts made the decision to speed the process up and just cut ties with the veteran.

The 32-year-old has played with the Colts since he was drafted with the 11th pick of the 2002 NFL draft. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler, three-time 1st team All Pro, AFC defensive player of the year (2005) and set many NFL and Colts records.

He currently is the Colts all-time leader in sacks with 107.5. Both Freeney and Robert Mathis were two feared defensive ends and could go down as the best combo in NFL history.

But, the Colts shifted to a base 3-4 system instead of the old base 4-3 Tampa 2 scheme. The team moved both Freeney and Mathis from defensive ends to outside linebackers as both are severely undersized as linemen in a 3-4 scheme. Mathis adapted well but Freeney didn’t.

In 2012, Freeney only had 10 tackles and five sacks for the whole season. Those are terrible numbers for someone making $18 million. In fact, his stats have declined by the year the last several seasons. There’s no reason for the team to bring him back as sad as it is.

I also agree with releasing Collie.

Collie, could have been the next great wide receiver in this league. He was among the league leaders in receiving during his first two seasons.

In his rookie year, Collie had 60 receptions with 676 yards and seven touchdowns. His second year was looking like he would be the best receiver in the game until his terrible head injury suffered against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 7. Before that he nearly had as many receptions and yards as he did in his first season combined.

Collie, came back towards the end of the season in a home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and scored two touchdowns in the first half. In what looked like he would be back without missing a beat, tragedy happened again. On a post route, Collie was hit in the helmet once again and knocked out. He yet again suffered a severe concussion and forced to sit out the remainder of the season.

Despite those two concussions, Collie finished the year with 58 receptions with 649 yards, and eight touchdowns. That was the last we’d see of his dominance though.

Collie returned for the 2011 season but didn’t look the same. He only had 514 yards on 54 receptions and one touchdown. He had several drops and didn’t look like the player he was prior to the concussions.

He returned with the Colts with high hopes this year with having a better quarterback and looking to improve on his dismal ’11 season. He was out until the third game of the season when he made his debut at home against the Jaguars. Yet again, it was the Jaguars who ended his season as he suffered a knee injury which sidelined him the whole year.

After what could have been a promising and even possibly a Hall of Fame career has now ended. I suspect Collie to get picked up by a desperate team but not ever be back to where he was.

The two moves free up a ton of cap room for the Colts and ends some headaches. Freeney and Collie brought some great memories and will surely be honored in the near future by the team.

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