For weeks, everyone has been under the assumption that the Colts will trade or release All Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney. The reasons are the Colts are shifting to a 3-4 base defense, and Dwight is owed way too much money in 2012 for what he is currently worth. Freeney carries a staggering $19 million dollar cap hit for the Colts in 2012, and for a guy who is provided just 8.5 sacks last year and is on the wrong side of 30, that's too much.
Again, as I always say to crazy fans who think that sports is about "loyalty," the bottom line is this league is a bottom line business. Your play must validate your pay. When it doesn't, you are hurting the club.
Also, when asked directly last week about whether or not the Colts are attempting to trade Freeney, news that was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson gave a complete non-answer that, for me, translated, "We're trading Freeney." Add to this that the Colts just inked DE Cory Redding, and the writing on the wall suggested a Freeney-Colts divorce.
However, today we get two reports, one from NFL.com's Jason La Canfora and the other from ESPN's John Clayton, informing us that the Colts might not trade Freeney. They might not cut him either. He might actually remain a Colt in 2012.
There was never a strong possibility that Freeney would be traded in the first place, but it is clear the Colts are making the defensive line a priority under new head coach Chuck Pagano Chuck Pagano
The Colts have already reached an agreement with DE Cory Redding, a versatile lineman who Pagano coached in Baltimore and can play the end in a 3-4 scheme. The Colts also invested heavily in Robert Mathis, who will now be an OLB as they switch to the new scheme.
The last piece is Freeney, who would also fit in as an outside linebacker under Pagano.
John Clayton simply stated, via ESPN's Paul Kuharsky, that he doesn't see Colts trading or cutting Freeney. With all the low cost players the Colts have either brought in or retained, they can handle Freeney's $19 mill cap number this season.
Back to La Canfora, he also reported several days ago that the Colts are looking into restructuring Freeney's final year (2012) so that the cap hit isn't $19 mill. Freeney recently hired CAA to represent him after his longtime agent, Gary Wichard, died last year. Having CAA rep him either means Freeney has them working to trade him out of Indy, or he needs them to re-work his contract.
So, it's still entirely possible that Freeney will be traded, but La Confora and Clayton just tossed a bucket of ice water on it.