This shouldn’t be surprising considering the moves the Colts have made recently, but it appears as if Erik Walden will not be returning to the team.
He initially tweeted a vague statement, “it’s clear they rather have puppies than dogs,” and while it was unclear whether that was directed at the Colts or not he has since deleted the tweet. He then tweeted a string of tweets thanking the Colts and their fans for the opportunity, seemingly indicating that he won’t be back.
I'll like to give thanks to Irsay Family and the entire Colts Organization for four great years of memories and relationships that will last— Erik Walden (@E_Ninety3) March 11, 2017
a lifetime. I'll also like to thank my teammates, trainers and fans for their support. With that said I'll always be grateful to have had a— Erik Walden (@E_Ninety3) March 11, 2017
Opportunity to play for the Shoe. ColtsNation!! Much love and God Bless— Erik Walden (@E_Ninety3) March 11, 2017
It’s unclear where Walden will be playing in 2016 and there hasn’t been much of any talk about who has interest, but that likely won’t be with the Colts. There was some thought that the Colts might want to bring him back on a smaller deal, but then once free agency started the Colts quickly made multiple moves at outside linebacker. They signed outside linebackers Jabaal Sheard, John Simon, and Barkevous Mingo to contracts within the first 24 hours of free agency, which meant that they had essentially replaced Walden. The guys the Colts signed are probably ideally suited to play Walden’s spot on the strongside, which means that they probably won’t be bringing him back.
In four seasons with the Colts, Walden played in 61 games and started 60, recording 166 tackles, 23 sacks, six forced fumbles, and three passes defensed. Last year, Walden stepped up and had a career year, starting all 16 games and recording 42 tackles, eleven sacks, 17 quarterback hits, ten tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. He was the Colts’ most productive pass rusher a year ago, but he’s still not a true pass rusher and he’ll be 32 when the regular season starts.
With how much pass rushers are in high demand in the NFL, a guy who recorded eleven sacks a year ago will surely find work. But the Colts have been really focusing on the outside linebacker position so far in free agency and will likely do so in the draft as well - meaning that it looks like moving on from Erik Walden.