Last year, when the Colts released quarterback Peyton Manning, it was correctly dubbed the end of an era. However, because players like Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, and Dwight Freeney were retained, the "new era" Colts didn't feel completely new.
Today, Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz has reported, via an unnamed source, that the Colts have parted ways with seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time All Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Austin Collie.
Freeney's departure closes the door on a chapter in Indianapolis Colts history.
Now, to be clear, Freeney is a free agent when the 2013 new league year starts. Kravitz is reporting that Freeney was told by the team that he will not be re-signed. This means his career in Indianapolis is over.
Collie is a free agent as well, and logic suggests that, like Freeney, he was informed the team would not re-sign him in 2013.
The Colts parting ways with Collie is nothing startling. He's sustained four concussions in two seasons, and last year injured his knee in the Colts Week Three loss to the Jaguars. Cutting Freeney is a different story. Just as Peyton Manning symbolized the beginning of a new era on offense, the drafting of Freeney in 2002 gave the franchise a true defensive star, something they'd never had since moving from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984.
Freeney had 107.5 sacks, 44 forced fumbles, and a safety in his ten years wearing the blue shoe. Last season was his worst year, statistically, earning only 5 sacks and 12 tackles.
Sadly, it looks like Robert Mathis will not get to play another season with his long-time sack buddy. Freeney is one of the greatest players ever to suit up in a Colts uniform. This truly is the end of an era.
The Colts have confirmed that they have parted ways with Freeney and Collie.