One of the most interesting free agent signings that the Colts have made this offseason is the decision to bring in Margus Hunt.
A former second round project player for the Bengals, Hunt never really put things together during his four years in Cincinnati. During his tenure there he played in 44 games and recorded 29 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He did manage to block three kicks last year, however, so he had an impact on special teams.
To get a better understanding of the player the Colts are getting in Margus Hunt, we reached out to those who covered him during his time with the Bengals. Cincy Jungle’s Rebecca Toback was kind enough to answer some questions for us about Hunt. Our questions are in bold and then Rebecca’s answers follow.
1. How was Margus Hunt during his tenure with the Bengals?
Hunt was a project when he came to Cincinnati and he's still a project now on the way out. He's never lived up to his second round billing and was a big disappointment in every area other than kick blocking. He was an unreliable pass rusher and I saw he blamed the Bengals' depth for why he never made an impact with the team... I thought that was pretty funny.
“It was hard to kind of get a foot in the door,” Hunt says of his time with the Bengals, via Colts.com. “They were kind of set in the way with the defensive line they had going on. I was competing and getting as much playing time as I could and being able to be kind of in a role where if my name was called upon I was able to do my thing and help the defense out and not have a drop off in productivity primarily.”
I think it's somewhat of a cop out if he's claiming depth kept him from making an impact, because he had so many opportunities to earn his chance, and he simply was unable to do that. Maybe a change of scenery is what he needs. He has the size and strength to succeed, but, he's yet to prove he can use his size to his advantage... Other than with blocked kicks. He's good in that regard.
As I'm sure you've learned by now, he was a former discus, hammer throw and shot put World Champion. He went to SMU to join the track and field team... But that team got shut down while he was there and then he joined the football team instead. So, he's only been playing football for about seven years. Because of that, there's always been a hope that in each year that passes he'd learn more and become a better football player. But, he's still yet to reach the potential the Bengals saw in him when they drafted him in the second round back in 2013.
2. Why was he not re-signed?
The Bengals need to find a more reliable backup to take over his role, someone who can contribute as a pass rusher and actually get to the quarterback. I think the Bengals were done working on a four-year project that failed to pan out.
3. What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Strengths: Great at blocking kicks and he can generate some pressure on the quarterback, though, it's rarely ever converted to sacks. You guys might think he's good because the last preseason game against the Colts has been his annual best game of the year. I asked the rest of our writers if anyone had some thoughts to share with you on his strengths, and blocking kicks was essentially it.
Weaknesses: He's yet to figure out how to use his size and strength to his advantage. He can't shed blocks. He was probably best in 2016, which could be attributed to playing in a contract year, but, hopefully, was due to all of the work from the prior three seasons finally kicking in. Still, it really wasn't enough to warrant him staying in Cincinnati, even as a backup.
4. Do you think this is a good fit and a good signing for the Colts?
If he's in Indianapolis purely as a depth player who's going to push for a roster spot, I think the signing makes sense. I just wouldn't expect to get much of an impact from him... And if you do, it'll be a happy surprise. If he saves you a few points on blocked field goals, you'll probably be happy, too. If the Bengals paid $2 million for Hunt this year, a lot of fans would be very, very unhappy. But, I know his contract does have an option for the Colts to opt out after one year, so, it's pretty low risk and you can hope for a big reward.
Here's more on him from one of my writers with arguments for and against re-signing him from the Bengals' perspective: http://www.cincyjungle.com/2017/1/8/14189746/reviewing-whether-bengals-should-re-sign-margus-hunt-nfl-2017
That’s some terrific information on Margus Hunt, and hopefully at least his special teams impact will make the signing worth it for the Colts. Thanks again to Rebecca for taking the time to answer our questions, and be sure to check out Cincy Jungle for all things Bengals!