Around this time of year, NFL fans are in full out speculation mode, trying to figure out which players their team might sign in the offseason. For Colts fans, anyone who plays outside linebacker or safety is sure to get attention (as well as a lot of other positions). Therefore, when the Buffalo Bills announced yesterday that they were releasing veteran outside linebacker Nick Barnett and veteran safety George Wilson, it was natural for some to wonder if the Colts may have interest.
Nope. And they shouldn't, either.
The first reason why is because of age. Both Barnett and Wilson are 31 years old. While a team like the Colts would do good to bring in a veteran or two (Ed Reed, for example?), the core of their team must be built on youth and by signing guys on the back half of their career it would detract from the foundation that Indy is trying to build.
Secondly, Nick Barnett just isn't that good anymore. He isn't good in pass coverage, and while his run defense is solid, the Colts would be more likely to retain Dwight Freeney than him. I don't think either Barnett (nor Freeney) will be in Indy next year.
And thirdly, if you needed any more convincing, Barnett was officially released due to a failed physical. So if the Colts signed him they would be getting an injured 31 year old football player past his prime. Not exactly the kind of guy the Colts should be signing.
George Wilson is a bit more of an intriguing possibility for the Colts, as he has been a solid strong safety on the field and a great influence off of it as well. He was voted a captain four consecutive years and is a two time winner of the Bills' Walter Payton Man of the Year award. On the field, he was a 16 game starter last season and recorded 104 tackles. His off the field recognition is sure to catch the eye of the Colts, but Ryan Grigson is looking to build the best football team and while the Colts place a higher emphasis on character than most, I still don't see Wilson ending up in Indy. Safety isn't an overwhelming need (considering some of the other needs - like offensive line) and Wilson isn't an overwhelming target, given his age and play. The likelihood that he will be a Colt isn't overwhelming either.
Perhaps the most interesting and relevant thing to the Colts to come of this move could be that the Bills are freeing up money, which may be in an effort to retain safety Jairus Byrd and/or guard Andy Levitre. The Levitre possibility should prove especially intriguing to Colts fans, as he has long been associated with the top offensive guards that the Colts should go after - the biggest position of need on the roster. Does the release of Barnett and Wilson guarantee that either Byrd or Levitre will be back? Not at all. But it hints that the Bills could be making an effort to retain one or both of them. (Let's hope they throw their money at Byrd and not Levitre).