LANDOVER MD - OCTOBER 17: Austin Collie #17 of the Indianapolis Colts moves the ball upfield after making a reception against Kareem Moore #41 of the Washington Redskins at FedExField on October 17 2010 in Landover Maryland. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Welcome to the Devil's Take! Today, I'm tackling arguably one of the toughest choices the Colts have left to make since cutting Peyton Manning. That is the present and future of Austin Collie's football career. In this past week's episode of the Devil's Take, I alluded that due to the performance of Donnie Avery in Week 2, the Colts should look to trade Collie. I also brought up the fact that the Colts are actually in the positive ratio with viable WRs not to mention having good talent on IR (Whalen). Right now, the Colts are turning over the roster trying to find big bodies for both the offensive and defensive lines. Both of these are bigger concerns at the moment than WR. So what do we do about this conundrum?
First, let me start by saying that I think Austin Collie is perhaps the best WR the Colts have had on the roster since Marvin Harrison. The kid is scary good, and he has all the tools you could want in a WR. He's fearless, he's got good speed, and he has hands that would make a thief jealous. He's a team first guy, and would gladly give up stats for a win every week. Collie has been a HUGE fan favorite since he was signed with the Colts, and it's very hard to not see why. In most circles, he's Brandon Stokely 3.0.
If you look at his stats, you'll find a very good set of numbers that most WR's in the slot position would be very happy with.
172 catches in 41 games, an average of roughly 57 catches per season
1839 yards - averaging roughly 613 yards per season
16 TDs - averaging roughly 5.3 per season
1 fumble/1 fumble lost in 41 games, despite the concussions
Averaging a little more than a first down per reception for his career
If not for the concussions he sustained in the 2010 season, Collie was on pace to produce his first 1000 yard season. In 9 games, he produced 8 TDs, 649 yards receiving, and all of this was done on only 58 receptions. Those are marquee tight end type numbers, at a slot WR position.
It's for all those reasons that it pains me and upsets me to suggest that the Colts should trade/cut him. However, the elephant in the room is a bigger burden outweighing all of Collies positives. On record, he's had 3 confirmed concussions. However, we all know he's had more than this because he was held out of the New England game after a pretty nice hit was put on him. That's not even including ones he himself may not have admitted to both in the NCAA and his current NFL career.
For this reason, the Colts need to consider looking into a trade for Collie. Now many of you will say that he played all of 2009/2011 without concussions. That's fine. However, he took a mild hit in a preseason game this year and has yet to do anything since. Once you get one, you are just that more apt to get them. This is a guy who is going to be abused and punished by defenses playing for a rookie QB, because that's what it will take to catch passes for Collie.
There are a few options the Colts have, and I think it's for the best of the team as well as Austin, that the Colts look into it:
- Trade - this is by far the best option for both parties, as it lets Austin go to a team such as the 49ers or even the Patriots, where he will be more wide open on the field. Right now, the Colts inability to scare defenses into honoring the run is what is really hurting Collie. It also lets the Colts show Collie that they respect/love him and want to see him playing on the field in a manner that won't get him killed. It also lets the Colts potentially pickup a draft pick or perhaps a raw body that they can benefit from later.
Buy Out - This is probably the best option for the Colts, in terms of their conscience. By buying out Austin's contract, they honor their commitment to him, and allow him to make the choice of whether he wants to play free of the Colts. This allows him to save face by retiring gracefully, without feeling like he owes the Colts or any other team anything because of a contract.
- Retire - Probably the best option for Collie period. He's a risk for potential brain damage and mental damages later in life if he continues to take the abuse. He'll still get his check from the Colts, and I'd wager that if he chose #2 or #3, the Colts would quickly offer him a job with the team in some capacity. You just can't replace that kind of fan appreciation.
- Being Cut - This is by far the worst scenario, and one I really, really think will end up being the result for Collie. While Collie still has some trade value as a WR, his injuries will make teams leery. Being able to play for a season would make him great trade bait, but I think the Colts have too many other issues that will possibly have Collie wind up on IR.
Ultimately, I wish the guy would come out, play like the beast he is, make me look stupid for ever doubting his health, and have a good career. In my head however, I know that even if he plays well this season, that his career is literally one concussion away from being over. The Colts loaded up on WR in the draft, as well as in the free agent market. Even if the Colts lose one or two of those guys, Collie's health makes him one hit away from being out of the game again.
Thanks as always for reading and I appreciate any/all comments. Please just understand that this is me putting aside my fandom for a moment and being realistic about someone's health.
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