Dwight Freeney's illustrious career in Indianapolis is over.
The Colts informed Freeney, the franchise's all-time leader in sacks, that his contract will not be renewed.
"Few people have meant as much to the success of the Indianapolis Colts as Dwight Freeney," said owner and CEO Jim Irsay in a news release. "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."
Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star reported that wide receiver Austin Collie was also told by the Colts he won't be re-signed, although the team has not yet confirmed it. Collie suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in September that ended his season.
The move to part with Freeney is the latest in a massive reconstruction project by general manager Ryan Grigson, Irsay and coach Chuck Pagano. The franchise parted with quarterback Peyton Manning, tight end Dallas Clark, linebacker Gary Brackett and center Jeff Saturday last offseason, but the overhaul that gave the Colts the youngest roster in the NFL was a success. The Colts finished second in the AFC South and earned a wild-card playoff bid.
Freeney spent 11 seasons (2002-12) with the Colts. He was the surprise 11th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft by coach Tony Dungy and GM Bill Polian. He was an instant terror for offensive tackles to contain and ends his career with the Colts as a seven-time Pro Bowl selection. He had 378 tackles (313 solo), 107.5 sacks, 44 forced fumbles, 14 passes defensed and three fumble recoveries in 163 games played (143 starts). Freeney has started 17 games in the postseason, recording 37 tackles (31 solo), nine sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed.
Freeney played outside linebacker for the first time last year as Pagano installed a 3-4 defense and at age 32 had just five sacks in 2012, his lowest total since 2007.
Freeney is the only Colts player with seven double-digit sack seasons, including four consecutive from 2002-05. In 2011, he topped 100.0 career sacks and currently ranks tied for 21st in NFL history with Pat Swilling. Freeney has recorded 25 multiple-sack games, including five contests with three-or-more quarterback takedowns.
Since 2002, Freeney ranks first in the NFL in forced fumbles and fourth in sacks.