By now, we get the idea that new Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard is going to be fairly active in bringing in players during this NFL preseason roster cut period.
While you may think that players they bring in are just a bunch of other teams’ castoffs (technically, they are), there can be some really decent or notable players unearthed here. Let’s take a look at some of the players that the Colts have brought on-board in recent years during the roster cut period.
2010 — OL Joe Reitz, CB Justin Tryon
Who knew that Reitz would wind up being such a big pickup for the Colts? He was a utility offensive lineman for them for several seasons, just filling in where needed, until becoming a full-time starter in 2015. Overall, Reitz started 44-of-73 games for the Colts after both the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins got rid of him in preseason cuts.
Tryon was a reserve cornerback for the Washington Redskins before the Colts traded for him. He started 6-of-15 games in Indianapolis but struggled with some injuries. Still, he was reliable while in action. He probably should have been with the Colts longer than he was, but there was rumors that he beefed with former general manager Bill Polian.
2012 — CB Vontae Davis, DB Darius Butler, S Sergio Brown, OL Bradley Sowell
Jerraud Powers, Cassius Vaughn and Josh Gordy were the Colts’ top cornerbacks before they traded for Davis. Yyyikes. Davis had his ups and downs in 2012 but began his ascent among the league’s best corners in 2013. He has struggled with injuries but it could be considered the best trade that Ryan Grigson ever made.
Butler’s career was on the rocks after failing to stick with the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers. The Colts saw something in him, putting him in the slot, somewhere he hadn’t played before. Butler excelled, becoming one of the league’s top nickels ever since. He has 12 interceptions since joining the Colts.
Sergio Brown was arguably the best special teamer that the Colts have had in recent years. That, of course, excludes specialists. Defense and special teams, Brown was always useful where the Colts needed him.
2013 — TE Jack Doyle
This one is the biggest pure waiver wire roster cut claim that the Colts have executed in recent years. The Tennessee Titans hoped to sneak Doyle onto their practice squad, but the Colts swooped in signed him to their active roster. Doyle has gotten better every year, and now he is finally the top tight end on the roster. Who knew that he would last longer in Indianapolis than Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener?
2014 — RB Dion Lewis, OL A.Q. Shipley, CB Jalil Brown
This one hurts. The Colts briefly brought in Lewis, and now, he has been a star for the Patriots ever since (of course). Lewis was a Colt for one week.
Shipley is almost a cult hero around here. The Colts had awful luck at center in Andrew Luck’s early years (we miss you, Ryan Kelly. Please hurry back), and Shipley seemed to be the only one who could bring stability. However, the Colts were always looking for a reason to supplant Shipley, so he only started 5-of-15 games. It was his second stint with the Colts, starting 5-of-14 games the first time around in 2012.
Brown was such a pleasant surprise. He was already a veteran when the Colts picked him up in 2014. He played a couple years with the Kansas City Chiefs, a short stint with the Colts, the Miami Dolphins and then back again in Indianapolis. He played well enough to start four games for the Colts in 2015 with Davis and Greg Toler injured.
2015 — DL T.Y. McGill, ILB Sio Moore
McGill has been one of the most underappreciated Colts in his time here. Every time he sees action, he performs (0 starts, 5.0 sacks). He may not make it onto the Colts’ 2017 roster, but it won’t be because he doesn’t deserve it.
Moore was a pretty polarizing player here. He had plenty of promise coming to the Oakland Raiders from UConn, but things never materialized for him there, and they traded him away. When he finally got a starting spot with the Colts, he led the team in tackles but also missed a ton.
2016 — CB Antonio Cromartie, S Matthias Farley, CB Rashaan Melvin, OLB Akeem Ayers, CB Darryl Morris
Injuries to the cornerback group last offseason led to the Colts bringing in Cromartie, Melvin and Morris. All three did well, but the Colts let go of Cromartie as soon as they started to get some of their regular corners healthy. Melvin and Morris stuck around and did a great job considering they were recently-acquired street free agents. Both are still on the team, but Morris unfortunately is on IR. Melvin will likely be a starter this year, and Morris was supposed to be the starting nickel.
Farley was a star for the Cardinals last preseason but fell victim to a numbers game there. He had a ho-hum year for the Colts in 2016 but has earned a starting role in the absence of Clayton Geathers and Malik Hooker.
Ayers has definitely been a breath of fresh air for the Colts. Their defense has been awful, but he has produced. He has consistently disrupted the quarterback’s pocket, and he is able to provide coverage as well.