Indianapolis Colts: What Does the Future Hold For Dwight Freeney and Austin Collie?
The Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis ended last year, and come 2013, two more eras will have ended. According to reports, the Indianapolis Colts will not attempt to-resign free agents Dwight Freeney and Austin Collie.
Collie probably can’t be classified as having his own “era” like Freeney can, but the two are huge fan favorites and played extremely well during their time in Indianapolis. However, Freeney wasn’t a fit as an outside linebacker in Indy’s 3-4 scheme, at and 33 years old will have to find a new home. Though still talented and in his prime at just 27, Collie has dealt with numerous injuries (concussions and a patellar tendon tear in 2012), and the Colts no longer feel he’s worth the investment.
Indianapolis made a tough decision on Peyton Manning last year, and it’s arguable that as tough as these two decisions are, they’re probably the right ones for the franchise, as well.
But that doesn’t mean Freeney and Collie should retire or don’t have anything left to offer. In fact, quite the contrary. Freeney is getting up there in age, but he could easily still have another 2-3 solid seasons in the right 4-3 system. It’s possible he could even perform at an elite level for another year or two as a starter, while there is little doubt that he could at least be a great spark as part of a rotation.
The same can be said for Collie. If a team writes up a contract that protects them from his rocky injury history, he could be brought on as a third or fourth option to operate out of the slot, while holding a ceiling of possibly once again establishing himself as a decent #2 option.
Both players plan on continuing their careers in 2013 and beyond, and both should have suitors right away.
Two landing spots Freeney could consider is Atlanta and Seattle. Both teams need help with their pass-rush, and he’d have the chance to once again play for a legit playoff contender. The Falcons ranked 28th in sacks in 2012 and need to address defensive end, while the Seahawks lost Chris Clemons to a torn ACL and will undoubtedly be looking for a veteran presence or help via the draft to put more pressure on the quarterback. The Detroit Lions are also in the market for some help in their 4-3, while several other teams should express interest in a pure pass-rusher that should still be able to play at a high level.
Collie is a bit of an enigma, as many will question his knee, and even if they don’t, they’ll worry about his rash with concussions during his young career. While there is certainly risk with him, there is also potentially high reward due to his elite hands, route-running and exceptional versatility. Collie rarely drops passes, runs crisp routes, and can play every position at wide receiver.
Two teams that make a ton of sense to snag Collie on the cheap are New England and Denver. Collie makes sense with the Patriots because they are widely known to kick the tires on any aging or broken down receiver that might carry upside. With Wes Welker on the open market, they might jump at the chance to get a high character guy for little money that could be a quality replacement. As for Denver, Collie could reunite with former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. The two had terrific chemistry in Indianapolis, and Denver’s 2012 slot demon, Brandon Stokeley, is scheduled to hit free agency.