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Former BYU standout Austin Collie released by Colts; team owner calls Collie 'a warrior'

Published: Friday, July 3 2015 4:23 p.m. MDT

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie is helped off the field after being injured during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. (Associated Press) Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie is helped off the field after being injured during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. (Associated Press)

Austin Collie's time as an Indianapolis Colt has come to an end.

Collie, a former BYU wide receiver, and longtime Colt defensive end Dwight Freeney were told by the team Friday they will not be re-signed, according to reports from the Associated Press and Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz.

Collie and Freeney are both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents; the free agency signing period begins March 12.

The Colts confirmed the news about Collie Saturday morning.

"Austin was a warrior and an inspiration for the franchise and Colts fans around the world," Colts owner and CEO Jim Irsay said in a news release. "He was a great player for us and a superstar for our community, and will always be a part of the Colts family."

Collie expressed his appreciation on Twitter Friday afternoon.

"Sad day for me and my fam," Collie said via his Twitter account, @AKCollie_17. "It was a g8 4 yrs. Can't thnk u all enough 4 ur hospitality and support. Blessed to have been a part of this org(anization)."

Collie's time in the NFL, all spent with the Colts, has been hampered by injuries. He's suffered three concussions in his four-year career, and last year he went on the season-ending injured reserve when he ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee in a Week 3 game against Jacksonville.

BYU's all-time receiving yards leader got off to a strong start in his pro career after being selected by the Colts in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

In Collie's NFL rookie season, he posted 60 catches for 676 yards and seven touchdowns during the regular season. Indianapolis reached the Super Bowl that year, where it lost to the Saints. In the AFC Championship game, Collie had seven receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown to help the Colts beat the New York Jets and advance to the title game.

In his second year, Collie again found success early on, as he caught 44 passes for 493 yards and six touchdowns in the season's first six weeks. But a pair of concussions, including a second in Week 15, put Collie on injured reserve.

Since then, however, Collie has had just 55 catches for 560 yards and one touchdown, a stark contrast to the success he enjoyed in the early part of his career.

Freeney, who has spent his entire 11-year NFL career in Indianapolis, is the Colts' career sacks leader with 107.5. He will turn 33 next week.

Early media reports have speculated that one possible landing spot for Collie could be Denver. With the Broncos, the former Cougar would be reunited with veteran quarterback Peyton Manning; the two were teammates for three years in Indianapolis. During the time the duo played together, Collie caught 118 passes for 1,325 yards and 15 touchdowns during the regular season.

"Manning had a nice on-field relationship with Collie," ESPN's Bill Williamson wrote Friday night. Williamson, who covers the AFC West for ESPN, said he could see Manning vouch for Collie to join the Broncos. "Injuries have derailed his career. But he would likely come very cheaply. I could see Denver giving him a chance in a low-risk, high-reward signing."

Email: bjudd@deseretnews.com; Twitter: @brandonljudd

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