INDIANAPOLIS –Dwight Freeney joined the Colts as the 11th overall pick in the 2002 draft, and the impact of his career matched that from totals of his first rookie start when he forced three fumbles and had a sack.
Freeney, the club's all-time sack leader (107.5), will not be issued a contract offer Colts, and he is free to pursue another direction in his career when the free agency period opens on March 12.
"Few people have meant as much to the success of the Indianapolis Colts as Dwight Freeney," said Owner and CEO Jim Irsay. "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."
Freeney, a seven-time Pro Bowler, had seven of the 17 double-digit sack seasons in club history. He had 13.0 sacks in his rookie season, a sign of things to come. His other seasons with 10-plus sacks were in 2003 (11.0), 2004 (16.0), 2005 (11.0), 2008 (10.5), 2009 (13.5) and 2010 (10.0).
He became the first Colts player to top the NFL in sacks with his total in 2004.
Freeney started 143-of-163 career games with the Colts, and he had 44 forced fumbles and three fumbles recovered to add to his destructive totals. He had 25 career games with multiple sacks, including five three-plus sack games. He leveled 53 different opposing quarterbacks and had sacks against 27 of 31 teams.
Freeney teamed with Robert Mathis (91.5) to form a lethal set of ends during most of their careers. The Colts were 26-9 when Freeney and Mathis combined for sacks. They each produced 10 sacks in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2010 to set the NFL mark for most seasons with teammates doing so together. They surpassed Reggie White and Clyde Simmons by doing so.
Freeney and Mathis combined for 20-plus sacks in five different seasons (26.5, 2004; 22.5, 2005; 22.0, 2008; 23.0, 2009; 21.0, 2010).
Freeney is among 14 players in franchise history, nine in the Indianapolis era, to participate in at least 100 regular-season victories. His total of 112 rank eighth-most in franchise history (141, QB-Peyton Manning; 132, QB-John Unitas; 132, C-Jeff Saturday; 127, TE-Justin Snow; 127, WR-Reggie Wayne; 118, WR-Marvin Harrison; 114, P-Hunter Smith).
Freeney played on seven division champions (2003-07, 09-10), two conference champions (2006, 09) and one world champion – in 2006 when the Colts beat Chicago, 29-17, in Super Bowl XLI. Freeney recovered a fumble in the game, one of 17 post-season appearances in his career.