Freeney shouldn't have been surprised

February, 21, 2013
2/21/13
8:57
AM ET

Most media had long known that Dwight Freeney wasn’t in the Colts' plans beyond 2012.

But the defensive end didn’t have the same read.

“I’ll be honest with you: I was surprised the way it happened,” he told Mike Chappell of The Indianapolis Star of the team telling him it wouldn't look to re-sign him. “I figured they would offer me something low and I would just accept it, go the last few years and retire a Colt.

“So I guess a little disappointed.”

I feel badly that a player who was an institution for the franchise for 11 years, during which he posted 107.5 sacks didn’t have a complete handle on what was going to unfold for him.

But, frankly, he should have.

The Ryan Grigson/Chuck Pagano Colts haven’t been influenced by sentiment one bit as they’ve revamped the team.

The Peyton Manning decision was made by Jim Irsay before the new regime was in place. But the franchise purged a lot of people who had done a lot for the franchise before this past season, and it was a bit of a surprise they swallowed a $19 million cap number for Freeney instead of including him in the roster turnover.

If they didn’t negotiate that number down by extending him last year, odds were really low they were going to reinvest in him after the cap issue was over. Freeney was miscast in the team’s new 3-4 scheme. He still has pass-rushing ability and everyone needs that, but Indy clearly didn't see him as a help even for the short term. The Colts signed Robert Mathis, not Freeney, to a long-term deal last year that made him a primary piece of the defense going forward.

Freeney was out of town when the Colts wanted to deliver the news that they wouldn’t be offering him a new deal, so Irsay, Grigson and Pagano did the best they could and spoke with him on a conference call, thanking him for all he did for the franchise but informing them they’d be moving on.

His presence still hovers in Indianapolis: A giant picture of him hangs on the side of Lucas Oil Stadium.

I hope he will embrace a chance to finish out his career in a different environment.

“I have a lot left in the tank,’’ he said. “I’m still running to the ball very quickly and I still have my explosion. “I feel good right now. I’m excited to bring my talents to whoever would love to have them. I’m worried about getting to the right organization, a winning organization.”

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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