The biggest areas of focus for the Colts this offseason has to be their linebacking corps, and in particular they really need to add help at pass rush.
It’s likely that things will look a lot different next season in that area, as Robert Mathis has retired while Trent Cole and Erik Walden are set to become free agents. It’s unclear whether either of those two will be back, but there have been some wondering whether Cole would decide to retire as well. He’s 34 years old, his production has dropped off, and he’s coming off of a season in which he suffered and injury that he said could have been “career-threatening.” Cole returned to play late in the year, but there were those wondering whether he’d decide to hang it up after the season ended.
He made his answer pretty clear last week: he’s excited about playing in 2017, per a post on his Instagram page.
“This makes 12 NFL seasons for me and I'm very excited about whats to come for me this 2017 NFL football season. Just thankful to be given the opportunity to play in this League. Feeling great and there is to much unfinished buisness that I need to handle in 2017 NFL football season.”
So he’s planning to play in 2017, but the question is where. You’ll notice that his post made no mention of the Colts, and it might be because there’s no certainty whether he’ll be back in Indianapolis. In his two seasons with the team, he has played in 21 games and started nine, recording 48 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles, and four passes defensed. He took a pay-cut to stay with the team last offseason, and his 2016 season was a rough one. He played in seven games (starting four) and recorded 16 tackles, two sacks, and a pass defensed, and he missed the bulk of the season with the back injury that forced him to be placed on IR early in the season, only to be designated to return later in the year and play in the final five games.
Cole has had a good career as a pass rusher - recording 90.5 career sacks and 21 forced fumbles - but he hasn’t been nearly as productive in recent seasons, especially since joining the Colts. For a team that is in desperate need of pass rushers, it probably wouldn’t be the wisest thing to bring Cole back on a new contract after what he’s shown in the past two years. So while he wants to continue playing in 2017, it’s very much uncertain whether that will be with the Colts or not.