It’s not something easy to write or even think about. However, Dwight Freeney may have very well played his last game in blue and white. The man who has his very own patented signature spin move and wreaked havoc on quarterbacks all the way to record 107.5 sacks (or 21st on the all-time list), all in a Colts’ uniform to boot. Once a Colt, always a Colt, and Colts’ fans know more than anyone how much the NFL is a business, especially at times a cold hearted one. This franchise just saw its greatest offensive player, and a man everyone thought was a lock to retire in Peyton Manning get unceremoniously handed his walking papers. If Peyton Manning can’t retire a Colt, can anyone? In a prior offseason that just saw the franchise lose its greatest offensive player, this offseason could mark them losing arguably their greatest defensive player ever in a similar, consecutive fashion.
Dwight Freeney will always be a beloved sports figure in Indianapolis and the State of Indiana as a whole. He helped bring the city a Super Bowl Championship and was consistently the franchise’s best defensive player during a stretch that saw this franchise win a lot of games. Scouts said he was too small coming out of Syracuse, but he parlayed that into becoming one of the greatest defensive defenders of the past decade in the NFL. Ask any offensive coordinator who they gameplanned most for on the Colts, who kept them up at nights, and the consensus would be hands down Dwight Freeney. The 7-time all-pro may never have won a Defensive Most Valuable Player, but he should’ve won Defensive Most Disruptive. Jonathan Odgen, Orlando Pace, or Willie Roaf; it really didn’t matter, as Freeney would always seem to get the better of them all. Spin move…bull rush….in a blink of an eye, down went your quarterback.
Still, well-run football teams have no place for sentiment. This is football. A game where players put on pads and helmets in gladiatorial fashion and only the strong survive. Dwight Freeney had his day in the sun as a Colt, but the sun sets on us all at some point. Sometimes, change can be the best for both sides. Even with a willingness to take a massive paycut coming off just a 5 sack season, it may just no longer make sense. It happens. As the Colts look to transition further and further into a 3-4 scheme, Freeney a natural 4-3, hand down pass rusher may simply no longer be a fit. Should the Colts’ continue to try to stick a square peg in a round hole purely on sentiment? Heck, even the NFL’s replacement refs could see that Dwight Freeney wasn’t as effective as a stand up rusher (sorry, had to).
While Freeney’s best football is likely behind him, and he’s entering the swan song of his career, there still are some fits out there. Think about it, former Colts’ defensive secondary coach and now Vikings’ head coach, Leslie Frazier, could look to pair him up with Jared Allen on turf in a Cover 2 Scheme for Minnesota. Another Cover 2 schemer, the Chicago Bears, could be interested in him to spell Doomsday with Julius Peppers in the Windy City. At this point in his career, Freeney may no longer be a star, but can he still be a complimentary piece for a team looking to rev up its pash rush? Absolutely. Freeney, “the Ferrari”, may have lost a few ticks on the speedometer, but he can still fly. He may just have to take one more unplanned pit stop before speeding onward to Canton, Ohio. Rest assured Colts’ fans, his final racing stripe will always remain blue and white.