Dwight Freeney is one of the best pass-rushing outside linebacker/defensive end hybrids in the NFL. He racked up double-figure sacks seven times in 11 years and has sacked the opposing quarterback 107.5 times during his Colts career. The Colts have made it clear, though, that they will not re-sign him for the 2013 season, which is without a doubt a decision based completely on money.
Freeney was paid a little more than $14 million for his base salary in 2012 and was responsible for a total cap hit of just over $19 million. The Colts aren't willing to pay that much money again, but somebody may. Even if Freeney has to take a pay cut, and he likely will, he will be playing somewhere in 2013.
The AFC South rival Houston Texans could be high on the list. They obviously missed Mario Williams in 2012 as their two outside linebackers, Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed, only accounted for eight sacks. (Williams had 10.5 in Buffalo). If they find the cap space to sign a big-name free agent, Freeney could be it.
The Kansas City Chiefs could make a play for Freeney as well. They run the same 3-4 defense that Freeney would feel comfortable in and they had trouble pressuring the quarterback in 2012, only bringing the quarterback down in the backfield 27 times. They have too many holes to fill with their No. 1 overall pick, especially at quarterback, to draft a great pass rusher in the first round. If they have the cap space, Freeney could make sense. However, they may not be able to re-sign wide receiver Dwayne Bowe if they sign Freeney.
The Washington Redskins haven't shied away from signing big-name free agents in the past, and if they're interested in upping their sacks from 32 in 2013, Freeney could be their target. Like the Colts, the Redskins run a 3-4 defense and have soaked up Colts free agents in the past, notably wide receiver Pierre Garcon before the 2012 season.
There's also the Dallas Cowboys, who struggled at times to rush the opposing quarterback in 2012. Like the Redskins, they haven't shied away from signing big-name free agents and throwing huge chunks of money around. They may not be in a position where they can do it again before the 2013 season, but there's no question that Freeney would help boost Dallas' front seven.
It's currently unclear as to where Freeney could end up in 2013, however, a pass rusher of his caliber isn't a very common thing and any team with a 3-4 defense would be boosted by signing the talented outside linebacker. Unfortunately, the majority won't be able to spend the kind of money that it will likely cost to buy Freeney's services. There's no question, though, that he's going to be one of the biggest-name free agents on the market heading into the 2013 season.