Last week, the Indianapolis Colts cut long snapper Matt Overton, a fan favorite due to the work he has done in the community.
I wrote about several possible (and probable) reasons as to why the release happened: money, a new GM in town, and performance. I’m convinced that these three reasons likely combined to lead to Overton’s departure, but I failed to mention another reason that should have been included: the Colts getting younger.
It seems that may have been one of the driving factors, at least according to Overton. He spoke with WTHR’s Bob Kravitz last week following his release, and Kravitz told the story of the release. Overton got the call Monday morning to come into the office, where he was told by Chris Ballard that, “we’re going younger at that position.”
So there you have it: it seems that one of the main factors in the release, at least the way Kravitz/Overton tell it, was age. The reality is that Matt Overton will be 32 years old by the time the Colts report to training camp this year. Thomas Hennessy, the undrafted free agent out of Duke presumed to be Overton’s replacement, will be 23 when he reports to camp. In NFL years, that’s a huge difference.
We’ve seen this offseason already a big emphasis from Chris Ballard on getting younger and on getting players with upside. But I will caution that, while getting younger might be the reason Ballard gave to Overton and the reason Overton gave to Kravitz, I’d be surprised if that’s the whole reason. There were probably other factors at play too that contributed to this decision.
Either way, it sounds like getting younger was at least a main factor in the decision, and it caught Overton by surprise.
"It was tough, it was a shock, and I was heartbroken," Overton told Kravitz. "I truly believe I’ve at least earned the right to compete for my job. The big thing Ballard has preached is competition at every position, so that's kind of a head scratcher, not being able to compete. It was just one of those days when nothing makes sense. But I'm not supposed to sit here and waste my time with the what-ifs and the why-did-they-do this; it's out of my control. And I've been so encouraged by the support I've gotten from everybody on the team, in the community. So I’m ready to get prepared for another opportunity."
On that note I think a lot of people would agree with Overton: with such an emphasis on competition, why not let him compete for the job? That’s something that I wondered about as well, though I keep going back to something else that Ballard has said too: every player on the 90-man roster is a guy they think can contribute, and if they don’t think that then the player shouldn’t be on the 90-man roster. So my only conclusion is that Ballard and the Colts didn’t think Overton could contribute at a capable level anymore, which would again obviously mean that there was more to the decision than simply getting younger. Or, perhaps, the Colts didn’t want to take up too many spots for long snappers. That could be possible too.