With the draft finished, the NFL offseason (frequently defined by teams releasing and acquiring players, coaches, front offices people, etc.) comes to an end. For the most part, the players the Colts hold the rights to now are the ones who will show up and play in the first preseason game in August. Thus, we take this time to evaluate and examine the moves made by Jim Irsay and his first year general manager, Ryan Grigson. This series will breakdown the player loses, the free agent signings, the draft, and the undrafted rookie signings.
We start out with who the Colts lost...
The Colts parted ways with several well-known, established, popular veteran players prior to the start of free agency back in early March. No move was more highly publicized (and more needlessly criticized) than the team cutting quarterback Peyton Manning. From a purely football perspective, these moves were absolutely the correct thing to do. Including Manning, veterans such as Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, Gary Brackett, and Melvin Bullitt only played in a combined 71 of 160 games the last two years. Excusing Manning's shoulder nerve issue (which required spinal fusion surgery to correct a destabilized neck, costing him the 2011 season), the others pretty much defined the term "injury prone."
- Addai's only complete 16-game season was his rookie year in 2006.
- Clark sustained a freakish wrist injury in 2010. He also has a concussion history.
- Bullitt had a metal pin inserted into his shoulder after the 2010 season. Just two games into 2011, that pin snapped.
- Brackett has always battled various injuries, not playing a full 16-game season at MIKE backer since 2007.
The Colts also allowed Jeff Saturday, Jacob Tamme, Mike Pollak, Anthony Gonzalez, and Pierre Garcon to walk. All have signed free agent contracts with other teams. Also, veteran tackle Ryan Diem retired.
To place their offseason overhaul into perspective, take a look at the Colts depth chart from this Sept. 7th, 2011 post.
Nearly the entire starting offense (with the exception of WR Reggie Wayne, WR Austin Collie, and LT Anthony Castonzo) is no longer on the team. Castonzo is the only member of last year's starting o-line to return, and all three of Indy's quarterbacks from 2011 are now throwing for other franchises.
Yes, even Curtis Painter found a job.
This type of roster purging only happens in Madden's franchise mode. Yet, the Colts had the stones to part with much of the dead weight that had limited the roster for years, opting to completely re-build from the ground up.
Brad's final take:
I always grade bold moves high, especially when they involve purging the roster of old, injured talent. I have fond memories of many of the Colts released, but this is a bottom line business. Injured players are useless players, and many of these guys are either done or close to being so. It was gutsy to let them all go, in particular Peyton Manning. However, at the end of the day, they were absolutely the correct moves to make.