Earlier today, the Indianapolis Colts placed defensive lineman Arthur Jones on injured reserve, ending his season and perhaps his career with the Colts.
At this point, it’s hard to envision the Colts bringing Jones back for the salary he’s due. He’s set to earn a $6.25 million base salary next year and have a $7.35 million cap hit, while the Colts could save $5.15 million by cutting him. Though the Colts aren’t currently hurting for 2017 cap space, it just makes too much sense to move on from Jones at that salary. Even last year it seemed the Colts thought so too, as they re-negotiated with Jones and he played on a lesser salary in 2016. So it’s possible they could re-negotiate his deal again, but it seems easier to just cut ties altogether.
It’s been a really tough contract for the Colts, who signed Jones to a five-year, $33 million deal in 2014 with $16 million guaranteed. Though there were those who questioned the move at the time for other reasons, it would have been impossible to predict everything that’s gone wrong (he missed just four games combined in the three years prior to joining the Colts). During his tenure with the Colts, however, Jones has played in just 20 of a possible 51 games (starting 14). So in three seasons with the Colts, Jones hasn’t even started enough games to equal a full season despite earning $15.7 million.
In 2014, Jones played in the first two games of the season before he was injured, and he missed the next five games, returned for one game, and then missed two more games. When he returned after that it took him a few games to get back into the mix, and he then ended the season starting the final five games (including playoffs). But his first year with the team was for the most part a lost season due to injury, so it was going to be big for the Colts to get him back in 2015. But then in the preseason, he suffered another ankle injury that resulted in him missing the entire season. Then as he was recovering, he was suspended by the NFL this past summer for violating the league’s PED policy. That resulted in him missing the first four games of the season, and he missed another one as he worked his way back into the mix of things. He then started eight games, but last week suffered a groin injury that caused him to miss Sunday’s game and land on IR. That’s three significant injuries and a PED suspension in his three years with the Colts, resulting in him missing two-thirds of the team’s games. It’s hard to see how the Colts could bring him back in light of all of that.
Part of the decision might include how the other defensive linemen are doing, as Kendall Langford is also on season-ending injured reserve. But with Henry Anderson, David Parry, Zach Kerr, T.Y. McGill, and Hassan Ridgeway also along the defensive line, the Colts can afford to move on from Jones if it means improving other aspects of the defense, particularly the linebacker corps. And considering Jones’s current salary cap hit for the 2017 season, as well as his struggles to stay on the field for the Colts, it’s hard to imagine the Colts bringing him back next year.