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Dwight Freeney, Austin Collie won't return to Colts

The Indianapolis Colts are moving on from impending free agents Dwight Freeney and Austin Collie.

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The Colts met with both Freeney and Collie on Friday and told the two that they will not be re-signed, a team source told NFL.com's Albert Breer. The Colts later confirmed that Freeney will not be back with the team next season.

"Few people have meant as much to the success of the Indianapolis Colts as Dwight Freeney," Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a team 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."

The 11-year veteran racked up 107.5 sacks while earning seven Pro Bowl nods and three first-team All-Pro selections as one of the NFL's elite pass rushers of the past decade.

"I was very surprised to hear they wanted to go in a different direction," Freeney told ESPN's Ed Werder. "Would have been nice to retire a Colt."

Freeney's exit is hardly a shocker to league observers, however. It's a tacit admission from the team that the 32-year-old was a poor fit for head coach Chuck Pagano's 3-4 defense. Look for a contender with a 4-3 scheme to sign Freeney as a situational pass rusher. With two or three more seasons of double-digit sacks, he could lock up a Hall of Fame bust in Canton.

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The Colts' decision to cut ties with Collie was similarly predictable. Snakebitten by serious concussions and lingering after effects, the wide receiver missed the 2012 season with a ruptured right patellar tendon. A team source opined to the Indianapolis Star's Bob Kravitz that Collie would have put up numbers similar to Wes Welker had he stayed healthy and teamed with Peyton Manning for the majority of his career.

Collie is fighting an uphill battle to make an impact in 2013. If he does manage to recapture some semblance of his pre-injury form, Collie is a good bet to resurface with Manning and the Denver Broncos as Brandon Stokley's successor in the slot.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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