The Indianapolis Colts confirmed reports on Friday that they will not re-sign Dwight Freeney and will instead allow the franchise's all-time leader in sacks to reach free agency, ending his 11-year tenure with the team. In a press release, Colts owner Jim Irsay spoke of Freeney's impact on the team and said that he plans to induct the former-first round pick into the Colts Ring of Honor:
"Few people have meant as much to the success of the Indianapolis Colts as Dwight Freeney. He has been a dominant player, which is all the more impressive considering his size for his position, and he has won a lot of games for this franchise. Dwight was an artist, a joy to watch, and the dedication he put toward his craft was a rare quality. We will miss him, but look forward to his future induction into the Hall of Fame and Colts Ring of Honor."
In 11 seasons with the Colts, Freeney racked up 107.5 sacks, placing him as No. 21 on the all-time sacks leaderboard and fifth among active players. He was elected to the Pro Bowl seven times as a member of the Colts and was named to the Associated Press All-Pro team three times.
Brad Wells of SB Nation's Colts blog, Stampede Blue, called said the news marked the "end of an era."
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.
Freeney will turn 33 on Tuesday; however, few expect his football days to end with his departure from the Colts. With several teams in need of a pass rusher, there are several potential landing spots for the veteran.