Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Should the Colts Cut Dwight Freeney?


Thanks for joining us for this week's episode of "Common Sense and Sensibility"!  Tune in next week as we discuss wearing helmets, cups, and cleats!

Wait, I'm contractually obligated to write more?  Fine.

On Friday, during their annual shedding of beloved veteran players, the Colts announced that they would not be retaining the services of WR Austin Collie and DE (let's stop pretending) Dwight Freeney. If anyone was surprised by either of these moves, they've likely been in a coma. Or they are Dwight Freeney.

Before a series of concussions began the end of his career in 2010, Collie appeared ready to become the Colts long-term solution to the WR position, and his stats had put him among the game's best at the position.

My biggest hope for Collie is that he can get healthy and live a long, happy life with his family.

From a football perspective, the Colts are simply not a team that can use a roster spot on someone who may not be able to contribute - they have to get the maximum production out of every player if they are going to come close to replicating last year's success. Collie should sign with a team that is already deep, poised to make a Super Bowl run, and can take a flier on Collie. Think Denver Broncos.

In Freeney's case, it's just a matter of a player's age and skill-set not meshing with the new direction of the team. I believe that Freeney is still a capable pass rusher, and he'll remind people of just how good he is when he signs with a 4-3 team that better fits his talents.

But we're not here to discuss Collie or Freeney's skills or futures. No, we're here to discuss honor and, well, drama. Because why not? After the announcements, Mike Florio of PFTMZ wrote, "...But if the Colts and Irsay truly want to honor Freeney, they’ll do the honorable thing and cut him..."

How does this press release go?

"In the name of Honor, the Colts have announced the totally pointless release of Dwight Freeney. Vaya con dios, Dwight, and thanks for all the fish."

How do we tackle this? Let's start with the easy part: the Colts have treated Freeney honorably. Since drafting him in 2002, the Colts showed Freeney the ultimate respect - from a player's perspective: they paid him. In 2007, Freeney signed a then record-setting contract for a defensive player. There was never a hold out. There was never an ugly contract dispute. Bill Polian never passive-aggressively eviscerated Freeney on his Monday night radio show. And when the Colts torched their roster and switched to a 3-4 defense, they paid Dwight Freeney $14,000,000.00 - far more than he would have received on the open market - despite the fact that Freeney was clearly a bad fit for this scheme from the start.

But let's ignore all of that for a minute and focus on something even more important: cutting Freeney would be a bad business decision. If you read the bottom of Florio's post, you'll notice an UPDATE where a reader points out the flaw in Florio's logic. (That reader was me...)  Here's the gist of it: by cutting Freeney, the Colts lost any and all hope of getting a compensatory draft pick for him.

Based on how compensatory picks work - your compensatory picks are based on a formula that not only accounts for free agents lost, but free agents signed - there's a good chance that the Colts receive no compensation for him. But that's not really the point. Despite their 11-5 record in 2012, the Colts are still in the midst of a rebuild. They need all of the picks they can get. Unless Grigson is 100% certain he's not going to miss out on any of his free agent targets, unless there's no scenario where he's not forced to go shopping in the Bill Polian Memorial Bargain Bin, then he should absolutely, positively do what's best for him and his football team, while still honoring his contractual obligation to Dwight Freeney.

Dwight Freeney is one of the best players in Indianapolis Colts' history. He was their defensive MVP for much of the Manning-Polian Era. His name will eventually go into the Colts Ring of Honor, and, if he can put together a few more great seasons with his next team, the Hall of Fame. The Colts - and their fans - have honored and respected Freeney since he entered the league and will continue to do so long after he's left the team. But cutting him now, when his contract is set to expire in 3 weeks wouldn't be honorable, it would be foolish.

Check out other great articles at Coltsider.
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