I was literally writing this paragraph in my soon-to-be published draft write-up earlier today regarding Bjoern Werner and Jerry Hughes:
Oh, and make no mistake: The drafting of Werner is the final "see ya" to Jerry Hughes, the 2010 draft bust who was selected with the No. 31 overall pick that year. Hughes was supposed to be the man who would eventually replace Robert Mathis or Dwight Freeney. Now, Werner is that man, and with Sidbury likely to see playing time as well, when will Hughes see the field? (Short hint: Not often) Hughes’ contract is up at the end of the season.
Please, don’t make me post his career numbers in Indy over the last three seasons. It’ll just depress me, and make me want to kick a nun’s dog.
"We wish nothing but the best for Jerry in Buffalo," said General Manager Ryan Grigson. "He’s a talented guy that did everything we asked of him. At the same time, we are very pleased to be getting a young linebacker who has been a productive starter in this league."
Translation: We're glad we got something for Hughes as opposed to just cutting him.
Grigson is classy to say nice things about Jerry, but actions speak louder. The drafting of Werner with the No. 24 overall pick in 2013 coupled with free agent acquisitions Erik Walden, Josh McNary, and Lawrence Sidbury signaled the end of Hughes in Indianapolis.
I know some might say that these new players could have been brought in to create competition, but come on. Please don't tell me you actually bought into that.
NFL general managers do not spend $16 million of their owner's money just so the guy can "compete" with someone else at his position. Walden and Sidbury were signed because they are expected to contribute. Werner was drafted to effectively replace Dwight Freeney. McNary is a project player who will likely see time on special teams. And then, of course, there's Robert Mathis.
With all these linebackers on the roster, where was Jerry Hughes going to fit in?
Just like last year's trade with the Jets for back-up quarterback Drew Stanton, Grigson has managed to swing a very good deal, only this time with Buffalo for productive inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard. As my friend Brian Gailiford of Buffalo Rumblings noted to me earlier today, Sheppard's ceiling might be as a "decent, reserve linebacker."
I'll take it, because Hughes wasn't even that.
The Hughes trade caps a very productive and transformative period for this Indianapolis franchise.
Last year this time, everyone said the 2012 roster was completely different than the 2011 one. Well, this 2013 team is almost completely foreign to the 2012 roster!
14 new veteran players have either been signed as UFAs or been traded for. Gone are home grown vets like Freeney, Hughes, Jerraud Powers, Austin Collie, and Antonio Johnson. One-year vets who contributed last year like Donnie Avery, Moise Fokou, and Winston Justice are also elsewhere.
I almost do not recognize this team, which is, of course, a very good thing.