This is the time of year where teams cut their oldest and most injury-prone players. Not decisions to be made lightly, but sometimes that has to happen.
The Colts became the latest team to take that step, releasing both Dwight Freeney and Austin Collie. Freeney was perhaps the best defensive end in team history, an expert pass rusher who was one of the team's best players in the Peyton Manning era. Collie was a promising slot receiver whose career has been derailed by concussions and injuries.
I don't have to tell you that both these players have considerable talent. I also shouldn't have to tell you that both have significant red flags, flags so significant that they will probably prevent the Falcons from signing them. Let's look at why.
Let's say this: Freeney has had a remarkable career. A light 6'1" and 268 pounds, he made his speed and technique work for him, racking up 107.5 sacks through last year. He's a great player.
He's also a 32-year-old. He's not great against the run. His sack totals have declined three years running. Nothing suggests that he's going to suddenly reach the lofty heights of his early career again, and the Falcons would have to pair him with or at least complement John Abraham, assuming they don't decide to clean their hands of him. That could potentially put two guys on the wrong side of 30 on the field to rush the passer, neither of whom are good run-stoppers. There's an element of risk there.
Freeney's still good enough to command some cash, so unless the Falcons can work their magic and get him to take a relatively inexpensive deal, it would be difficult to bring Freeney on board. There's still enough tread on those tires that he could help the pass rush, but the injury and performance risks that come with pairing Abe and Freeney are quite real.
We all know why the Falcons are unlikely to sign Collie. Kerry Meier has been banged up throughout his career, as has Harry Douglas, and even Kevin Cone missed most of the season. The Falcons don't need another injury-prone wide receiver.
That's a little cruel to Collie, whose career has primarily been derailed by a number of concussions. But between his leg injury a year ago and those concussions, there's no guarantee Collie is the same caliber of possession receiver he was in 2009 and 2010. The Falcons could use a more reliable option in the slot, but you can't rewind time or undo injuries. That's why I think they pass on Collie.
What do you think?