In a move that is sure to make Colts fans happy, the team announced this afternoon that they claimed center A.Q. Shipley off of waivers from the Baltimore Ravens. To make room for Shipley on the roster, the Colts waived center Thomas Austin.
Shipley has played in 30 games (starting 14) over the past two years. In 2012, Shipley played in 14 games (starting 5) for the Colts before being traded to the Ravens the following May. Last year, Shipley played in every single game, starting 9 of them. Austin has played in 8 career games (starting 1) between the Texans, Panthers, and Colts.
In 2012, there was zero doubt that A.Q. Shipley was the best center for the Colts and he was impressive when he did play. When he was traded the following offseason, fans were upset. I'm all for trading away players you signed as a backup and getting a pick for them, but there has to come to a point where you keep players who could help you. And that's what Shipley was - he's not a great center by any means, but he would have again been the best center on the roster in 2013, as Samson Satele was even worse than in 2012. With the center position a huge glaring weakness in the offense last year, fans couldn't help but look back at Ryan Grigson's trade. It may seem like nit-picking to criticize a deal this much involving a draft pick and a backup center, but it was the wrong move to trade him.
I wondered whether Grigson would go after Shipley after he was waived by the Ravens yesterday, because doing so would be viewed as admitting a mistake. While there's much more to it than that, the bottom line is that it's good of Grigson to be willing to claim Shipley anyway. That was the right football move to make. Shipley is an upgrade over Thomas Austin as the third center. With that said, however, Shipley won't be playing over either Khaled Holmes or Jonotthan Harrison, and that's the right move too. Shipley is clearly the team's third center.
What this does mean is that there's legitimate doubt regarding whether Khaled Holmes will be ready week one. Chuck Pagano's hope is that Holmes will be able to practice Wednesday. The hope is that he'll return to practice for the first time in weeks just four days before the season opener. There's real uncertainty about Holmes' status, and that's why the Colts have three centers right now. Furthermore, Jonotthan Harrison is dealing with a thumb injury, and while I'd expect him to be ready week one, the team needs depth and insurance. A.Q. Shipley provides just that, and it's a good move by the Colts to bring him back.