One of the biggest and most notable free agent signings for the Indianapolis Colts this offseason was running back Frank Gore, who pulled a DeAndre Jordan way back in March and signed with the Colts after originally committing to the Eagles. While the Eagles lost out on Gore (they made up for it by signing DeMarco Murray), the Colts gained a player who makes our list of the most important players to the team's success in 2015.
Gore is a veteran, having spent the past ten seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. During that span, he has been one of the best and most consistent running backs in the NFL, as he has played in 133 career games and rushed for 11,073 yards and 64 touchdowns, averaging 4.5 yards per carry, while also adding 342 receptions for 2,883 yards and 11 scores. Gore is a five-time Pro Bowler, and in eight of his ten seasons he has topped the 1,000 yard rushing mark - including in each of the last four seasons, during which Gore hasn't missed a single game. Though he's the oldest projected starting running back in the NFL in 2015 (32 years old), Gore still has some gas left in the tank and can be a productive running back.
Moreso, Gore has a chance to be the best Colts' running back in quite a while. No Colts' rusher since Joseph Addai in 2007 has topped 1,000 yards in a season (a seven-year drought), and no Colts' rusher has rushed for 100 yards in a game since Vick Ballard in 2012 (a 34--game drought). It won't take much for a player with a borderline Hall of Fame chance and four straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons to make a big and noticeable improvement at the position. And that's why Gore is ranked on this list of the most important Colts in 2015: he gives the team a running game, something they haven't had much of during the Andrew Luck era. To emphasize just how bad it has been, consider this: the Colts have played 54 games with Luck at quarterback (including playoffs). They have had a player rush for more than 100 yards in a game in exactly one of them. One out of 54. 1.9% of the games. That's it. For much of Luck's time with the Colts, the team didn't even have much threat of a running game, and when they did, Ahmad Bradshaw couldn't stay healthy. But now with Frank Gore, that will hopefully change, opening things up even more for the passing game. Gore doesn't have to be great in 2015; all he has to do is be good enough, and he's certainly capable of doing that. And with him at running back, he's good enough to give the Colts a running game threat, something that will help them both in their ground game but also in their passing game.
Past rankings on this list: N/A (first appearance)
Check out our list counting down the 15 most important players to the Colts' success in 2015:
15. Jerrell Freeman, ILB
14. Greg Toler, CB
13. Frank Gore, RB