Sunday is the final Colts home game of the 2012 season. Unless, by some insane miracle, the No. 5 seeded Colts host the No. 6 seeded Bengals in the AFC Championship Game in late-January, the home finale against the Texans Sunday could be Dwight Freeney's last dance in front of the hometown fans as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
Freeney is a free agent at the end of the season. He's 32-years-old. He will make reportedly $14.5 million this season in base salary alone, the final year of a six-year, $72 million dollar contract he inked back in 2007. His cap hit for the Colts this season was roughly $19 mill.
For a $19 million dollar hit, Freeney has provided just 4 sacks, 8 total tackles, one pass defended, and one forced fumble as the Colts outside linebacker in their hybrid 3-4 scheme.
Now, I love Dwight Freeney as a player, and he seems like a really cool person outside the helmet and pads. He is also, arguably, one of the greatest defensive players of his generation, and certainly the greatest defensive player in Indianapolis Colts history. I think he's a Hall of Famer, but that's just me.
However, $19 mill for 4 sacks ain't gonna cut it. Yes, I agree with Bob Kravitz that the stat line doesn't tell the whole story in regards to Freeney in 2012. When you see coaches talk about Freeney, as Lions head man Jim Schwartz did in Kravitz's article, you'd think he's as destructive and disruptive a pass rusher as he ever was.
Personally, I'm not seeing it.
Unlike how Mario Williams thrived when switched from a 4-3 DE to a 3-4 OLB in Houston last year, Freeney has struggled in this new 3-4 Colts scheme. Unless Dwight signs a contract with the Colts next year that significantly reduces his salary, he's likely gone.
Dwight addressed the possibility of Sunday being his last home game as a Colt on Thursday when speaking to the media, via ESPN's Paul Kuharsky:
"I think that does kind of creep in, I think anyone who tells you it doesn’t is lying," he said. "You don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the day. The strangest things happen. Look at last year, everybody thought Peyton (Manning) would be here and he’s not. Two years ago was his last game. Hopefully it’s not but this is a business from their side and my side. I guess we will figure it out when the season is over. I just appreciate everything this city has done for me, the fans have done for me. It’s been a great ride and hopefully we can continue it."
When asked if he would prefer to stay in Indy for the remainder of his career, Freeney responded:
"Absolutely, I’m kind of old school in a way," he said. "Back in the day where you couldn’t leave a team, that’s pretty much where you were and that’s what you were known as. This is all I’ve ever known, this city, these people, these fans and hopefully I can be a horseshoe again this offseason."
Personally, I'd like to see Dwight retire a Colt, the same way it seems Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis will. However, 2012 is shaping up to be Dwight's worst statistical season of his career. Financially, it doesn't make sense to sign him to a contract with significant money after this season.
Thus, Sunday might indeed be Dwight's last home game as a Colt. You might want to consider wearing your No. 93 jersey if you plan to go to the game, just in case.