No quarterback in the entire National Football League played as well as Andrew Luck did with an offensive line as bad as Andrew Luck's line was.
Taking nothing at all away from Luck's absolutely brilliant season, part of the reason for that is because, well, there just weren't many lines worse than the Colts line was a year ago. And for a team with a young superstar quarterback like Indianapolis, the biggest priority needs to be keeping him on the field.
And this offseason, the Colts' biggest priority was indeed that - addressing the offensive line to better protect their franchise player.
The biggest signing they made to strengthen the position was to ink right tackle Gosder Cherilus to a 5 year, $34.5 million deal. The 28-year old Cherilus, who stands a towering 6-7 and weighs in at 325 pounds, spent the first five seasons of his career with the Detroit Lions, who drafted him 17th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. In five seasons with the Lions, Cherilus started 71 of a possible 74 games (missing only 5 games) after starting 51 consecutive games to end his career at Boston College. He has always been a durable and consistent starter, which is why reports of some knee concerns don't worry me nearly as much as it would for some other players.
Not only does Cherilus stay on the field and play, but he plays well. Well enough for Pro Football Focus to rank him as their third best right tackle (with a +23.5 rating) after a 2012 season in which he allowed only 5 sacks total on an offense that threw a ridiculous amount (Matthew Stafford threw the ball 727 times, and that doesn't even account for the times he was sacked, which was a lot).
Cherilus' excells at pass blocking and his run blocking won't hurt the team either. While he isn't great at that aspect, he is a solid run blocker and will be able to hold his own. No doubt, however, this move was made 100% with Andrew Luck in mind, as it should be.
Cherilus will anchor the right side of the line while Anthony Castonzo, the Colts' first round pick in 2011, will anchor the left side. With those two players (both former first rounders) as the bookends, the Colts offensive line looks to be much improved in 2013.
At the time he was signed, some (myself included) wondered what Ryan Grigson was doing. Sure, Cherilus was a good player, but there were better ones out there and the contract they gave Cherilus seemed pretty high.
Now, with news emerging of Andy Levitre's lingering knee issues and after more study on Gosder Cherilus, Grigson's signing looks a lot better. And as for the money, if Cherilus turns out to be a great player for the Colts, he is worth it. Protecting Andrew Luck needs to be a priority and by signing Cherilus, Ryan Grigson showed that it is.
In large part due to the signing of Gosder Cherilus, and also in part due to the signing of Donald Thomas and the drafting of other lineman, the Colts' offensive line will be much improved in 2013 and will give Andrew Luck much more time to throw the football - a thought that is downright scary for the rest of the National Football League. If Luck was that good last year with awful protection, imagine how good he could be with time to throw. It's a thought that Colts fans love to ponder and one that just might become a reality in 2013.