Colts Rumors

Eagles T Tyreek Burwell Retires

Eagles offensive tackle Tyreek Burwell has announced his retirement, as the Cincinnati product announced himself on Instagram (h/t Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk). Burwell posted the following statement:

“Man it’s hard for me to sit here and put this into words but after careful consideration I’ve made the decision to retire from the NFL. This journey has been unbelievable! I’ve been blessed to have been able to play this game since I was 7 years old. Playing in the NFL has been a dream come true and this game has taught and given me so much.”

Burwell signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2015, and though he was a victim of final cutdowns in September of that year, he was signed to the club’s practice squad shortly thereafter. He ultimately suited up for nine games in his rookie campaign, and five more in 2016, seeing minimal snaps in both seasons.

He was waived by the Bolts in September 2017 and then joined the Colts’ practice squad. He played in one game for Indianapolis that year, the last time he would see regular season action.

The Colts cut him last September, and the Eagles signed him to a reserve/futures contract in January. He was obviously a long shot to make Philadelphia’s 53-man roster.

This Date In Transactions History: Dwight Freeney

The Colts formed a long-term pass-rushing partnership on this day 12 years ago, finalizing a landmark Dwight Freeney contract. After extending Robert Mathis in 2006, the Colts took care of their cornerstone defensive end the following summer.

On July 13, 2007, Indianapolis inked Freeney to a six-year, $72MM extension that, at the time, represented the biggest contract for a defender in NFL history. Freeney, then 27, received a $30MM signing bonus on a deal that was backloaded to soften the cap burdens in its first two seasons. Freeney’s $37MM-plus in three-year earnings usurped Richard Seymour‘s $28MM three-year figure, which had paced the defender market at the time.

The then-defending Super Bowl champion Colts, who had Mathis on a contract worth $30MM over five years, used their franchise tag on Freeney earlier that year. That tender in 2007 came in at $9.43MM. At this point, both Freeney and Mathis were locked up for the next four seasons together. While the latter ended up outlasting the former in Indianapolis, Freeney made a sizable impact over the course of his deal.

Although Freeney registered only 5.5 sacks during Indy’s Super Bowl title season, and just 3.5 in an injury-shortened ’07, the Syracuse alum rewarded the Colts in the late aughts and early 2010s. Freeney recorded 43.5 sacks from 2008-11, earning Pro Bowl recognition in each season. Equipped with some of the best speed (4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the 2002 Combine) of any pass rusher in NFL history, the former No. 11 overall pick ended his Colts career with a then-franchise-record 107.5 sacks while also forcing 43 fumbles. He played in 17 playoff games (including two Super Bowls) with the franchise, adding nine more sacks in the postseason.

Freeney, who finished his 11-year Colts career with three first-team All-Pro honors, played out the contract before signing with the Chargers in 2013. He ended up playing for the Bolts, Cardinals, Falcons, Lions and Seahawks over the next five seasons, before retiring at age 38. Freeney (125.5 sacks) and Mathis (123) ended their careers adjacent to one another on the all-time sack list, in the Nos. 18 and 19 positions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Supplemental Draft Order

The NFL’s Supplemental Draft order does not go by the inverted win/loss records of clubs. Instead, the order is dictated by a weighted lottery that uses a team’s win percentage as just part of the equation. Here, via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link) is the complete order of the supplemental draft:

1. Lions
2. Broncos
3. Jets
4. Cardinals
5. Giants
6. Bills
7. Raiders
8. 49ers
9. Jaguars
10. Packers
11. Bengals
12. Bucs
13. Falcons
14. Vikings
15. Redskins
16. Titans
17. Dolphins
18. Steelers
19. Panthers
20. Browns
21. Ravens
22. Patriots
23.Cowboys
24. Seahawks
25. Eagles
26. Texans
27. Bears
28. Colts
29. Saints
30. Chiefs
31. Chargers
32. Rams

The supplemental draft is conducted via email. If multiple teams submit a pick for the same player in the same round, this order dictates which club gets the player. Of course, any team picking a player in the supplemental draft will sacrifice the corresponding pick in the 2020 draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Colts TE Jack Doyle

Jack Doyle had a breakout season in 2017, earning a Pro Bowl nod along the way. Unfortunately, the Colts tight end couldn’t build off that campaign, as he struggled with injuries throughout 2018.

After appearing in the first two games of the season, Doyle missed the next five with a hip injury. The tight end made it back to the field for four games in October and November, but his season came to an end after he suffered a lacerated kidney. The 29-year-old ultimately finished the year having hauled in 26 receptions for 245 yards and two touchdowns in six games.

While Doyle was capable of running routes during the Colts offseason camp, he cautioned that he’s not targeting any specific return date.

“I really am trying to take it one day at a time, not rushing anything,” Doyle told Heather Bremer of The Herald Bulletin. “But I’m happy with where I’m at and happy with the progress I’ve made. It’s definitely going in the right direction, and when it’s time to get back out there, I’ll be excited to be back out there. I promise you that.”

While Doyle may not be ready for the start of training camp, that won’t stop offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni from gushing about the depth at tight end. Doyle will be joining Eric Ebron, who finished last season with a career-high 13 touchdowns. The team is also rostering Mo Alie-Cox, who showed some flashes last year.

“It’s exciting to know that he is making a full recovery from his hip, from his kidney and we are going to have the Jack Doyle that we had at the start last year,” Sirianni said.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts GM Discusses Draft Strategy, Ya-Sin, Seahawks

Chris Ballard‘s first season as Colts GM didn’t necessarily go as planned. While the executive focused on a complete roster makeover, the Colts 4-12 record was surely disappointing. Fortunately, the team took a step forward in 2019, and that was partly attributed to Ballard’s work during the offseason.

Ballard fired Chuck Pagano after the campaign, and following a fiasco with Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniels, the organization ended up hiring Frank Reich as their new head coach. The organization also hit a home run during the draft, as Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard became the first rookie teammates to earn All Pro First-Team honors since 1965. The Colts ended up going 10-6 during the regular season before losing in the Divisional Round, and Ballard earned the 2018 NFL Executive of the Year award from the Pro Football Writers Association.

The organization will now look to build off their progress from 2018, and the Colts appear to be a shoo-in to at least make the playoffs. However, before the season begins, Ballard decided to take on a bit of a different role.

The Colts GM filled in on Peter King’s Football Morning in America column, and he provided some fascinating insight regarding the team’s draft strategy. The entire article is worth reading (Ballard went on a tangent describing why running back Edgerrin James should be in the Hall of Fame), but we’ve compiled some of the notable soundbites below.

What the front office values when evaluating draft picks:

We define football character as a player’s work ethic, passion for the game, football intelligence, competitive nature, and teamness. If any of these areas are weak, the chances of the player busting and not fitting in our locker room becomes greater. An NFL season is long and hard. The character of each individual player and the entire team shows up, either good or bad, during the hard times. It is difficult to get through a rough stretch if your players don’t have mental toughness.

We go the extra mile to delve into players and see how they’ll fit. You are telling the locker room every time you draft a player, “this is what we stand for.” If you bring in someone with a poor work ethic, or someone who is selfish, or someone who is unwilling to put in the work, you’re telling the locker room that that’s OK. Jerry Angelo used to say all the time that the talent of a player will tell you his ceiling, but his football character determines his floor. It’s critical to get that right, so we know the floor.

On second-round cornerback Rock Ya-Sin:

Let’s take our first pick this year, Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, and examine the process of how we reached our final decision, from the initial scouting report to draft day.

What traits make up an Colts cornerback? Is it possible to pick a Colts cornerback out of a crowd? The answer is yes and there are a few things we look for. Ya-Sin had them all:

• Size and length. Ya-Sin is 5-foot-11 with 32-inch arms, which are considered long for a cornerback.

• Instincts and ball skills. Yup.

• Toughness. It’s impossible to play our scheme if you’re not tough. Frank Reich’s definition of toughness: A relentless pursuit to get better every day; an obsession to finish. Ya-Sin is a two-time state champion high school wrestler, fitting this definition to a T.

Some of these traits might seem generic, and, yes, you can find most of these qualities if you look hard enough. However, each player is not always drawn up that way.

On the Colts’ unique interviewing process:

When I first took the job in Indianapolis, I wanted to find an expert who could help us get to the core of a player’s football character. We found the perfect person in Brian Decker, a former Green Beret and now our director of player development. He uses a model he developed in the military and applies toward our interview process. He interviews every prospect on our draft board and teaches our scouts specific interviewing techniques.

I am not going to give away any trade secrets but here are the five questions Decker wants to get the answers to:

• Does this player have a favorable developmental profile?

• Does he have a profile that supports handling pressure and adversity?

• Does he have a good learning and decision-making capacity?

• Is he a character risk and, if so, what can we do to help support him?

• Is he a fit?

On the team’s draft maneuverings:

On draft night, we felt like we would have a chance to move back in the draft and pick up an extra pick that weekend or in a future year. We have a strong belief that the more picks that we can acquire, the better it is for our team in the end. We don’t want to pass up a difference-making player so we are very thorough working through every scenario before we make the decision to move.

Ya-Sin was one of the players we considered taking as our No. 26 pick in the first round before we got a call from the Redskins. We felt like Washington’s 2019 second-round pick and the extra second-round selection in the 2020 draft was a very good offer and would be worth the trade back with the players we still had on the board. What also helped was that our No. 34 pick, acquired from the Jets the previous year, was only eight picks away.

The next day, there were five players we still liked who were available at No. 34, and the draft room was split. Half of the room thought we should trade again and acquire another second and third-round pick, and the other half wanted to stay at No. 34 and pick Ya-Sin.

On what rival team deserves credit for their team-building strategies:

John Schneider and his staff in Seattle do not get enough credit for what they have done in the past two years. They built a great team, won a Super Bowl and lost another on one of the great plays in NFL history by New England. Like all great things, they eventually come to an end, but what John and his staff have done to retool Seattle’s roster on the fly is tremendous work. They have completely rebuilt what was one of the greatest defenses in NFL history and acquired a bunch of young, talented defenders and have a chance to dominate again on defense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Which 2018 Playoff Team Will Miss The Postseason?

It happens every year. A handful of top-tier teams will inevitably miss the playoffs. In 2018, a staggering seven teams who made the postseason in 2017 missed it the following season. So which of the 2018 playoff squads will underperform and miss the tournament in 2019?

The Patriots, the reigning Super Bowl champions, haven’t missed the postseason since 2008, when Tom Brady missed most of the season with an injury. The team has also produced double-digit wins in every campaign since 2002. Though they seem like a lock to extend that streak, the aforementioned Brady isn’t getting any younger, Rob Gronkowski retired following 2018 and the team’s defensive coaching staff is being headed by head coach Bill Belichick after the departure of Brian Flores to Miami and a deal with Greg Schiano fell through. Though the AFC East is perennially one of the worst in football, the Bills, Dolphins and Jets all have young quarterbacks who could take the next step and challenge New England in 2019. 

The Ravens surprised in 2018, using an opportunistic defense and an unorthodox rookie signal-caller in Lamar Jackson to roll to a 10-6 record and a spot in the postseason. With an offseason to build the offense around its young quarterback, the Ravens could take another step in 2019. Or they could take a step back as opposing defenses catch onto the team’s run-heavy schemes. The Steelers are also due for a bounce back and the Browns have overhauled their roster in recent years to make a push not only for the playoffs, but for a Super Bowl run.

The Texans, the AFC South division champions, and the Colts, a Wild Card squad, have squads loaded with young talent. Houston boasts a loaded offense behind Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, and a strong defensive unit led by J.J. Watt. The Colts caught fire down the stretch, winning nine of their final 10 games to advance to the postseason. The team also fields the reigning Comeback Player of the Year (Andrew Luck) and Defensive Rookie of the Year (Darius Leonard). Though both teams should be strong again in 2019, only one can win the division, leaving the other to compete for one of the two Wild Card spots.

A pair of Super Bowl favorites, the Chiefs and Chargers both won 12 games in 2018 and are stacked with talent to inflate that number in 2019. Though the field the league’s MVP in Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs have had a tumultuous last few months that has seen the departure of running back Kareem Hunt and legal troubles for Tyreek Hill. Though stacked on both sides of the ball, the Chargers have posted just one double-digit win season since 2009. Again, only one squad can win the division.

In the NFC, both the Cowboys and Eagles appear to be the class of the East, with solid quarterbacks in Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott leading the charge. Both squads field excellent defenses and have plenty of talent at the skill positions. The question in Philly, however, is if Wentz can stay healthy. An MVP candidate when on the field, Wentz has missed eight regular season games and every postseason outing in the last two seasons. Though a strong unit in 2018, the Cowboys defensive front is not a deep one after Demarcus Lawrence and could be the weak link in 2019.

The Bears improved from a 5-11 squad in 2017 to a 12-win team in 2018. With a young quarterback at the helm and a loaded defense, Chicago is in good position for another division crown. However, how much will the team miss defensive coordinator Vic Fangio? The new Broncos head coach oversaw a unit that allowed the fewest points and third-fewest yards in the NFL. Chicago also plays in a strong division that features a Vikings squad poised to bounce back and an Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team.

In 2017, the NFC South placed three teams in the playoffs. In 2018, only the Saints escaped the tough division. Atlanta and Carolina look ready to challenge for a postseason berth and a Bruce Arians-led Bucs squad could surprise. New Orleans is sure to be a Super Bowl favorite, but a tough division could see them underperform a hair and miss the tournament.

The NFC representatives in Super Bowl LIII, the Rams are still led by Sean McVay, a high-powered offense and a stout defensive front. The question with Los Angeles is an easy one, however, how will Todd Gurley fare in 2019? The NFL leader in touchdowns in each of the past two season, Gurley was a non-factor in the postseason and his health is a mystery. The Seahawks returned to the postseason following a one-year hiatus but can they do it again in 2019? The teams has to replace Russell Wilson‘s top target in Doug Baldwin, who retired in the offseason. How quickly DK Metcalf assimilates into that offense could determine Seattle’s postseason fate.

If you had to plant your flag on one of these teams missing the 2019 playoffs, which one would it be? Vote in the poll and give us your reasoning in the comments.

Latest On WR Deon Cain

  • We heard in May that Colts WR Deon Cain was expected to be a full participant in training camp, but Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk says that Cain’s status is still unclear. However, she does hear that Cain should be ready to go at least by the regular season opener, which could a huge boon to Indianapolis’ aerial attack. Cain, a 2018 sixth-rounder, generated a lot of hype before tearing his ACL last August and is highly-regarded by the coaching staff. He is currently the fourth WR on the depth chart.

Marcus Simms Works Out For Teams

Former West Virginia wide receiver Marcus Simms worked out for half of the NFL’s teams on Monday, according to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. The Jaguars, Saints, Seahawks, Colts, Jets, Redskins, Chiefs, Browns, Eagles, Lions, Packers, 49ers, Vikings, Ravens, Raiders, and Falcons.

[RELATED: The 2019 NFL Supplemental Draft, So Far]

The 49ers and Vikings both sent directors of scouting while the Ravens had their personnel director on hand. The Raiders, meanwhile, had general manager Mike Mayock on hand, which may be an indicator of strong interest.

Simms’ 40-yard-dash times of 4.49, 4.45 and 4.40 seconds were strong, while his 36 inch vertical showed decent hops for the position. While he’s not considered to be as strong of a pro prospect as Washington State safety Jalen Thompson, Simms has a chance at being selected when the NFL Supplemental Draft takes place later this month.

Reich Lobbies Against Jacoby Brissett Trade

Add Frank Reich to the list of Colts decision-makers that do not want Jacoby Brissett to be traded. One of the NFL’s top backups, Brissett is entering a contract year and may be an interesting trade chip for the contending team.

But in 2018, Jim Irsay said they would not trade their backup quarterback for a first-round pick. The Seahawks’ offer of a second-rounder was reportedly insufficient, though a report this year indicated the Colts may be softening their stanceChris Ballard said in January that Brissett was a future NFL starter. Despite Brissett’s potential 2020 free agency defection, Reich wants to keep Andrew Luck‘s backup.

I tell Chris all the time, ‘Please don’t let him go. I don’t care what anybody offers him. Don’t let him go,'” Reich said, via Kevin Bowen of 1070TheFan.com. “I love Jacoby. The problem is now I’ve gotten to know Jacoby and, at some point, I hope that it works out for Jacoby. But not now.”

Reich is in a unique position to understand Brissett’s status, having spent most of his career as a backup quarterback. Last season, the Colts understandably needed more insurance than many teams because of Luck having missed all of 2017. But Luck started all 16 games and looks to have recovered from the shoulder malady that threw his career off axis. A former Patriots third-rounder, Brissett ended his 2017 starter season with the No. 29 QBR figure and threw for just 13 touchdown passes in 16 games. But the former North Carolina State prospect has generated some intrigue around the league.

It’s impossible for me to have a higher opinion of Jacoby than I do,” Reich said. “I said it last year; I think he’s a top-20 quarterback. I still say that. After watching him for a year, this guy’s really good.”

As of now, some future Hall of Fame quarterbacks stand to be 2020 free agents. But the prospect of Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Philip Rivers leaving their current teams seems incredibly remote. Ditto for Dak Prescott. The true market may include the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum and Ryan Tannehill, with the situations of Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota (both set to play on fifth-year options) being ones to monitor. Brissett may factor into this mix, but to have a chance to start again, he will obviously have to prepare to leave Indianapolis.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Ravens, WRs, Colts, Banogu, Giants

The Ravens could potentially trade for a wide receiver before the start of the regular season, but there aren’t exactly a bevy of top-end pass-catchers on the trade block, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes. Baltimore used its first- and third-round picks on wideouts Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin, respectively, adding them to a depth chart that already includes Willie Snead, Seth Roberts, Michael Floyd, and others. Given that the Ravens parted ways with both Michael Crabtree and John Brown earlier this offseason, they could be looking for extra depth, but it seems unlikely they’ll be able to land a true No. 1 wide receiver via trade.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Colts are moving second-round pick Ben Banogu to defensive end, according to Kevin Bowen of 1010 The Fan. Banogu played defensive end at TCU, but as Bowen writes, Banogu spent his collegiate career as a stand-up edge rusher, whereas he’ll be in a three-point stance in Indianapolis. “Can he do different things and put him in different spots?” said defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. “No question he can do that. But let’s get his feet on solid ground at one spot and then kind of develop him from there.” Justin Houston and Jabaal Sheard are locked in as the Colts’ starting defensive ends, so Banogu will compete with 2018 second-rounder Kemoko Turay for reserve playing time.
  • The Giants‘ offensive lines in 2016 and 2017 were billed as among the NFL’s worst, but as Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com points out, many members of those front fives still have jobs around the league, and some are penciled in as starters. Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg are on expensive deals in Arizona and San Francisco, respectively, while Ereck Flowers is projected as a starting guard for Washington. Bobby Hart is the Bengals’ top right tackle, while guard John Jerry — who was out of the NFL in 2018 — could now start for Cincinnati following a season-ending injury to rookie tackle Jonah Williams.
  • In case you missed it, the Ravens today worked out former Bengals linebacker Vincent Rey.