The Colts' special teams unit is among the best in the NFL this year, and it's led by two of the best kickers in the NFL in Pat McAfee and Adam Vinatieri. The coverage teams are strong and the entire special teams unit for the Colts is a very good one. There is an area where they could improve some, however, and it's at the return spots.
The Colts are looking to do just that, and according to reports out of Cleveland today the Colts will sign former Browns kick returner Josh Cribbs. The first report is per FOXSportsOhio's Zac Jackson:
The Indianapolis Colts have signed Joshua Cribbs. He worked out for the team last Tuesday.— Zac Jackson (@FSOhioZJackson) November 18, 2014
Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot confirmed the report:
The move makes sense for the Colts, though it's important to note the team has not yet confirmed the signing. Their return units are definitely in need of an upgrade, however, and Cribbs certainly could be that.
Cribbs spent eight years (2005-2012) with the Cleveland Browns and one year (2013) with the New York Jets, and he is among the best return specialists in league history. His eight kickoff returns for a touchdown are tied for the most all-time, and added to that he has three punt returns for touchdowns in his career. In 130 career games, Cribbs has returned 407 kickoffs for eight scores and averages 25.8 yards per return, and he has returned 203 punts for three touchdowns and an average of 11.1 yards per return. That's where his real impact has come, but he has also caught 109 passes for 1,167 yards and 7 touchdowns and has rushed 141 times for 808 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and 2 touchdowns. He has also completed 6 of 15 passes for 83 yards and a pick and has recorded 109 tackles in his career. He's a three-time Pro Bowler, a two-time first team All-Pro, and was named the Cleveland Browns MVP in 2009 - along with being named the kick returner on the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
As mentioned earlier, he spent eight seasons with the Browns before they released him, and then he was signed by the Oakland Raiders. He was released after preseason, however, and the Jets signed him a short while later - before his season was ended early with an injury. A poll taken a week ago by FOX 8 in Cleveland showed that an overwhelming majority of Browns fans wanted the team to bring back Cribbs. The kick returner worked out for the Colts a week ago. The biggest question about Cribbs is how much he has left in the tank. He's 31 years old, and it seems that especially for return men their stay at or among the top of the NFL doesn't last as long. Is Cribbs still the player he once was? The answer to that one is very likely a no, but that doesn't mean it would a bad signing. After all, the Colts aren't getting a lot from their return game now and perhaps even a 31-year old Cribbs is a better option than anyone the team has currently.
Griff Whalen has returned 15 kicks this year and averaged 25.8 yards per return and has returned 26 punts and averaged 7.2 yards per return, and while he has been a reliable and consistent player there for the Colts, it's clear that he doesn't bring the big upside that many teams want from their return game. The Colts will reportedly sign Cribbs in an effort to improve that return game, and if it works out it'll be yet another addition to what is arguably the league's best special teams unit.
Again, these are just reports, but it sounds like the Colts will be signing Josh Cribbs today. Thoughts?
[UPDATE: 11/18/14, 3:15 p.m. ET:] The Colts have officially announced the signing of Josh Cribbs.