How The Possibility Of Signing Bradshaw Affects Colts Run Game

Jeff Zelevansky

The attempt by the Colts to ink Ahmad Bradshaw puts the running backs currently on the roster on notice.

Ahmad Bradshaw and the Indianapolis Colts are talking.

In fact, the Colts seem so sure that they will sign Bradshaw that they gave his visit the "featured" designation, complete with the official Colts Twitter account announcing his visit, which included a picture of Bradshaw in the building. The Colts did this exact same thing with free agent visitors Ricky Jean-Francois, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and LaRon Landry.

Notice the trend?

Every person the Colts highlighted on their website and on Twitter has gone on to sign with the team.

While it seems as if the negotiations between Bradshaw and the Colts have stalled, chalk that up to the typical modus operandi for contract talks. If Bradshaw is still in Indy - and recent reports suggest he is - then the likelihood of him signing with the Colts is high. Even if he leaves, that doesn't mean things are "dead." Heyward-Bey left Indy after a free agent visit in April and was later wooed by Detroit. Eventually, he came back to Indy and signed.

Should Bradshaw place his John Hancock on a Colts contract soon, it would prove a major shake-up in the Colts backfield.

That Ryan Grigson is even attempting to ink Bradshaw should tell you he is concerned about running back depth and productivity. For all the grief we gave Grigson for stupidly trading A.Q. Shipley to Baltimore and for keeping Samson Satele's contract for 2013, it's fairly obvious that the second-year G.M. is not the kind of guy who sits back and just accepts key weaknesses at critical position areas. The man does a very good job self-evaluating his team.

So, knowing that, how does Bradshaw potentially signing change things in Indy's running back stable?

Well, for starters, it tells the guys who are there right now that the front office doesn't have complete confidence in them. The only guy who can probably feel he's safe is Vick Ballard. Maybe Kerwynn Williams, but only because he's a rookie who was drafted to return kicks. Everyone else is on notice, in particular Donald Brown.

Signing Bradshaw means that Brown is effectively worthless on the roster. In theory, he should never see playing time, as Ballard and Bradshaw would split carries while a short-yardage back would handle... well, the short yardage situations!

Oh, and please don't comment that Brown can run in short yardage. Just don't. If you can't tell by now that the former UConn bust is only a one-cut-and-go back (and an erratic one at that) after four seasons in the NFL, then you're blind.

Maybe, MAYBE the team keeps Brown because they like his leadership, or some such nonsense. From my vantage, if Bradshaw is wearing The Shoe, Brown is cut. He literally provides no benefit to the active roster, unless they plan on having him return kicks or run as a gunner on special teams. Both are unlikely.

Short yardage back Delone Carter is in the same boat as Brown. Yes, he provides more worth to the active roster, as he proved last season he can work effectively as a back in those situations. However, as Tom James of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star recently noted:

Also, factor in that the Colts plan to have a fullback on the roster in 2013. Like, for real this time! The team traded for former Eagles fullback Stanley Havili, who made a bit of a name for himself while playing for Pete Carroll at USC.

Here's Sigmund Bloom talking about Havili's talents:

I've watched Havili's tape, and I agree with Sigmund. He's actually a surprisingly good runner. And big at 6'0, 245 pounds! Rookie free agent Dan Moore, a FB out of Montana, has also looked good during OTAs. Bottom line: A short yardage back like Carter might not make any sense anymore, not if the team intend to keep Havili or Moore.

What's likely to happen is the team will sign Bradshaw, retain Brown, and dump Carter. The three-back rotation would consist of Bradshaw-Ballard-Brown, with Havili or Moore functioning as the specialists. Kerwynn Williams stays because he'll play special teams. Personally, I'd dump Brown and keep Carter, but I think the organization simply likes Brown better for reasons that mystify.

Signing Bradshaw would also put the finishing touch on an off-season that has truly looked impressive for Grigson and his front office. Whether or not it translates into more wins is debatable, but one cannot fault the Colts for a lack of trying. This organization is no longer content simply to "build from within." They are in complete "WIN NOW" mode, and for good reason.

Yep. What Evan said.

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