According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Indianapolis Colts plan to sign veteran offensive tackle Jared Veldheer and ultimately elevate him to the active roster in time for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars—in the wake of starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo’s season-ending ankle injury:
Veldheer has 113 career starts, most recently with the #Broncos in 2018. He appeared in two games with Green Bay last year. The #Cowboys made him a lucrative offer in September, but Veldheer walked away. Now, he's back for an Indy team that was down to its 5th and 6th tackles. https://t.co/4QiZlcbuLC— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 30, 2020
Originally a 2010 3rd round pick of the Oakland Raiders, Veldheer has also been a member of the Arizona Cardinals (2014-17), Denver Broncos (2018), New England Patriots (2019), and Green Bay Packers organizations (2019) respectively.
The 33 year old has experience playing at both left and right tackle, having made 113 career starts.
The peak of Veldheer’s playing career was around 2014 and as an offensive tackle for the Cardinals, when he signed a 5-year, $35 million deal and developed into one of the better starting blindside bookends in all of football.
He last appeared in 2 games for the Packers in 2019 (and started a playoff game).
Per PFF, in Green Bay last season, Veldheer earned a +69.2 overall grade—including a +83.6 pass blocking grade in a limited sample size of 35 total snaps (all at right tackle).
With last week’s blindside replacement starter, Will Holden, already out with an ankle injury for Sunday, and just J’Marcus Webb as the only natural left tackle (as the Colts do not like playing right tackle Chaz Green on the opposite side), the Colts desperately needed additional left tackle depth—with Castonzo now declared done for the season.
Filling in at left tackle, Webb struggled last weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers, so Veldheer could present valuable veteran depth/insurance there or even serve as an emergency spot-starter in the season finale on Sunday and potentially the playoffs (if the Colts are so lucky).
Otherwise, the Colts could always ‘moonlight’ All-Pro offensive guard Quenton Nelson at left tackle again on Sunday—who had limited snaps there against the Las Vegas Raiders a few weeks ago—especially since the team isn’t squaring off against another Pro Bowler like the Steelers’ Cam Heyward again along the defensive interior.
Veldheer should provide battle-tested veteran depth for the Colts late in the season and is arguably the best remaining off-the-street offensive tackle out there.