The Indianapolis Colts made two very notable roster moves today as they cut two starters following Sunday’s disappointing loss. The Colts released cornerback Antonio Cromartie and waived inside linebacker Sio Moore.
Cromartie initially signed with the Colts in mid-August as a free agent amidst a ton of injuries at cornerback. Because of all the injuries, Cromartie wound up starting the first four games of the season, though on Sunday he started even with Vontae Davis and Patrick Robinson healthy. He did a good job in coverage in the first three games but really struggled on Sunday against the Jaguars and Allen Robinson, which resulted in his playing time decreasing significantly in the second half. Still, in three of four games he did a nice job for the Colts, so it’s surprising to see them cut ways with him altogether. In his NFL career, Cromartie has played in 162 games (starting 137) and recorded 398 tackles, 117 passes defensed, 31 interceptions, two forced fumbles, and five fumble recoveries. With the Colts this year, he recorded 14 tackles and two passes defensed in four starts.
Sio Moore also started all four games this year at inside linebacker and recorded 31 tackles. He was the replacement to Nate Irving (who was the replacement to Jerrell Freeman) and the Colts seemed to have high hopes for him and his athletic ability since they acquired him in a trade last year. After a solid first game this year, Moore was terrible in the past three. But, again, it’s a bit surprising that the Colts cut him altogether.
It wouldn’t have been a surprise to see either player benched, but going from starting to cut is a pretty extreme dropoff, especially for a team lacking in defensive talent. At cornerback, Vontae Davis and Patrick Robinson (who are both now healthy) will be the starters, with Rashaan Melvin and Darryl Morris as the next two up until Darius Butler can get healthy (at which point he’d likely be the number three or four guy). At inside linebacker the team is even more thin, as now the team will be left to decide between Josh McNary and Antonio Morrison at inside linebacker alongside D’Qwell Jackson (Edwin Jackson is also on the active roster but has been seeing no snaps defensively). A tandem of McNary and Morrison doesn’t exactly inspire the most confidence, so even if the Colts wanted to make a change to their starting lineup you’d have thought they could still use Moore as a depth guy.
Based on that, it seems likely to me that these two moves were made to make a point. The Colts have sucked recently and their play has been ugly, and so Cromartie and Moore were two of the most expendable starters - therefore allowing the Colts to make a point by cutting guys they may have been considering benching anyways. After the organization set a precedent of rewarding so-so results last January, it now seems they are doing what they can to dispel that notion by trying to send a message to players that they will be held accountable for their play.
The Colts now have two open roster spots to fill as well, so it will be interesting to see what moves they decide to make there. Though they received a roster exemption for defensive lineman Arthur Jones it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him take one of the spots.
In other roster news, the Colts re-signed safety Lee Hightower to their practice squad earlier this morning.