Earlier this morning, Colts linebacker Jonathan Newsome tweeted that he had been released by the Colts and thanked Chuck Pagano, Ryan Grigson, and Jim Irsay for giving him a chance. Shortly thereafter, the team officially confirmed that they have waived Jonathan Newsome. The team Colts also announced that they have released outside linebacker Andy Studebaker.
Originally drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Ball State, Newsome spent two seasons with the Colts and played in 33 games (including playoffs), starting four of them and recording 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles. He tied for the team lead with 6.5 sacks in 2014 as a rookie and showed promise, though he didn't develop as many hoped in 2015 and instead regressed. He was nearly invisible last season, recording just one sack in 14 games, and at times he was a healthy scratch. The Colts appeared to already be down on him, and then a recent arrest for marijuana possession (something he had previously been in trouble with while in college) was likely the final straw. Newsome will now be subjected to waivers, though it's unclear if any team will claim him with his recent arrest and his 2015 struggles on the field.
Studebaker has spent time with the Colts in each of the past three seasons, playing in 32 games (including playoffs) and recording 32 tackles, a pass defensed, and a forced fumble. He only played in three games with the team in 2015, however, as he was signed in December to help with the Colts' struggling special teams coverage. That was mainly where he played in Indy, as he was expected to contribute on special teams. He did just that, and he provided a solid guy in coverage and helped the unit out. It's kind of a surprise to see Studebaker released at this point in the offseason since the Colts don't really need the roster spot at the moment, as he could be a guy that could continue to help the special teams units moving forward. With that said, however, the Colts could always choose to bring him back at some point if they want to focus on special teams with a guy they are familiar with.
The release of two outside linebackers, coupled with the likely release of Trent Cole at some point in the next few weeks, has led some to suggest this morning that outside linebacker is a need, and it absolutely is - but nothing has changed because of these moves. The Colts' pass rush was arguably their biggest need during the season, after the season, and right now - nothing has changed because of Newsome's release, in large part because Newsome didn't really do much of anything last season in the area of pressuring the quarterback. So these moves do nothing to change the team's need, but if they call more attention to the need that was already there, that can't be a bad thing.