One of the greatest players in Colts franchise history is fully planning on returning to the NFL in 2015. No, we're not talking about Peyton Manning, though it's all but official that he'll be returning for an 18th season.
Instead, we're talking about outside linebacker Dwight Freeney. He is set to become a free agent this offseason and mulled retirement, as he is 35-years old.
"I could retire tomorrow and still be happy with what I've done in this league," Freeney told the San Diego Union-Tribune's Michael Gehlken. "But I think I have a lot in the tank as well. It's one of those things where I'm going to wait for the right situation to come across the table. Hopefully it's with the Chargers. If they are not interested, obviously, you have to (test) the free agent market and see what team is interested."
In other words, Freeney isn't planning on retiring and wants to play next season somewhere - if a team will have him. That's the big question in all of this: will someone sign him?
In his 13-year career, Freeney has racked up 111.5 sacks and 44 forced fumbles. He has enjoyed a very successful career, being a part of two AFC Champion teams, a Super Bowl Champion, being named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 2000s, being a seven-time Pro Bowler, a three-time First-Team All-Pro, and a one-time Second-Team All-Pro. He is one of the best players in Colts franchise history and one of the most important to their success of the last decade.
But recently, it's been a struggle for Freeney. Playing the last two years with the Chargers after the Colts opted not to re-sign him after the 2012 season, Freeney has dealt with some injuries and has recorded just four sacks and no forced fumbles in the past two years combined.
Will the Chargers re-sign him? That's very uncertain right now, and Freeney doesn't even know if it will happen. If the Chargers move on from him, would another team pick him up? That's also uncertain. Freeney still might be able to help a team with some pass rush, but he's clearly not the player that he once was. Hopefully he is able to go out on his own terms and not because he can't find a landing spot.
Oh, and for those that will inevitably ask: no, I don't see a reunion with the Colts happening whatsoever. Even though the team needs pass rush help, they parted ways with Freeney a couple of years ago and there were hurt feelings that resulted, and I don't think a reunion would be in the works. Plus, the Colts need a legitimate pass rush threat, while Freeney is not much more than a situational role-player right now. The only way whatsoever that I see Freeney returning to the Colts is if he decides to retire and decides that he wants to do so as a Colt on a one-day contract. Other than that, I don't think a reunion with the Colts will happen. But I do hope that he finds an opportunity somewhere and that he makes the most of it.