The NFL’s trade deadline is today at 4 PM (EST), and a number of high-profile players have been mentioned as being available on their respective team’s trading block. Of course, the Colts have notoriously been one of the NFL’s more active trading teams under GM Ryan Grigson, as they traded for then-Browns’ RB Trent Richardson early during last year’s regular season.
Always one to embellish trade rumors, Colts’ owner Jim Irsay has already been vocal once again about his willingness to make a move today if it would help to improve the team (via the Indianapolis Star’s Stephen Holder):
"“Obviously we’re taking it a game at a time, but we’ve met and talked about anything we can do before the trade deadline (or) past the trade deadline in terms of having some young, ascending players who might be able to help us. . . and do whatever we can to get that edge,” Irsay said. “Obviously health is going to play a big role in how we move forward. If we can stay relatively healthy, I think this team really has something special. That’s what I’m focused on. It’s exciting to see.”"
Among some of the bigger names, are a quartet of Tampa Bay Buccaneers that could potentially be made available: S Mark Barron, S Dashon Goldson, WR Vincent Jackson, and RB Doug Martin. A divisional foe, the Tennessee Titans, may be looking to deal Safety Michael Griffin, WR Nate Washington, or ILB Wesley Woodyard. Other big names being mentioned are St. Louis Rams’ RB Zac Stacy and Bengals’ TE Jermaine Gresham.
Looking at the Indianapolis Colts’ team needs, it’s easy to see that either one of the Buccaneers’ safeties, Goldson or Barron, could potentially be an attractive piece, as well as the Titans’ Michael Griffin. The team has been starting the likes of Mike Adams and Sergio Brown in the back of its secondary. Both of whom were projected back-ups to start the season on the depth chart.
While Adams has played well and has no reason to be replaced, Sergio Brown may still be best suited in a nickel safety, special teams-role. He’s been better than LaRon Landry, who’s allowed to return this week from a 4-game PED suspension, yet the Colts could still stand to upgrade at this spot:
Dashon Goldson: At age 30, Goldson hasn’t had a very good year to-date with Tampa Bay and is one of the highest paid safeties in the NFL after signing a 5-year, $41MM contract with the Tampa Buccaneers in March of 2013. Yet, in his 6 seasons previously with the San Francisco 49ers, he was a 2x Pro Bowler (2011, 2012) and 1-time All-Pro (2012). He may be playing a bit out of place in Lovie Smith’s Cover 2 Bucs’ scheme, rather than his more familiar 3-4 defensive scheme with the San Francisco 49ers.
Still, Goldson is still owed a lot of money with cap hits of $8MM in 2015, $8MM in 2016, and $7.25MM in 2017. With the Colts likely having to keep some cap room open for QB Andrew Luck’s
impending free agency “mega pay-day”, the team likely wouldn’t want to commit to such a high-priced safety, who’s been underperforming. They have one of those already in LaRon Landry.
Sep 7, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Mark Barron (23) against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Carolina Panthers defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Barron: At age 25, Barron is still really young for NFL safety standards, and it’s easy to forget that he was the 7th overall pick out of Alabama in the 2012 NFL Draft. In his 3 NFL seasons, Barron hasn’t been the star that the Buccaneers had hoped for after making him such a high draft selection. In fact, he’s struggled quite a bit early on in his NFL career.
According to the advanced stats provided by ProFootballFocus (PFF), in his 3 NFL seasons among all qualifying NFL safeties, Barron has ranked: 70th (2012), 55th (2013), and 66th (2014). There’s no way Colts’ GM Ryan Grigson could justify giving up a high draft pick for him (especially after last season’s Trent Richardson trade); however, if it’s a mid-round pick, maybe you roll the dice on his potential talent and make him a reclamation project of sorts. Barron has 1-year left with a cap hit of $4.6 in 2015, making him significantly more affordable than his Bucs’ safety runningmate.
Sep 28, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Tennessee Titans free safety Michael Griffin (33) against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Griffin: At age 29, Griffin has been a staple in the Tennessee Titans’ secondary for the better part of a decade. Originally a first round pick out of Texans of the Titans in 2007, Griffin’s selection has already proven to be a good one for Tennessee. Like the aforementioned safeties; however, he’s really struggled this season, as he’s the 77th ranked safety among active qualifying safeties (PFF). With the Titans at a 2-6 record and about to fall completely out of the playoff race, it makes sense that they’d look to become a seller.
Like Goldson, Griffin is still owed quite a bit of money with cap hits of $8.1MM in 2015 and $8.3MM in 2016, making his high-priced acquisition unlikely for the very same reasons. It becomes even more unlikely, when you consider whether the Titans would look to trade with a division rival, especially one that has consistently dominated the AFC South year-after-year.
Wesley Woodyard: At age 28, Woodyard has performed the best of any player on this list and has actually been having a productive season. He recently signed a 4-year, $14MM dollar contract with the Tennessee Titans this past offseason after playing his previous 6 seasons with the Denver Broncos.
From a production standpoint, it’s hard not to like Woodyard, as he’s the 11th rated ILB overall according to PFF. However, at a listed 6’0″, 233 pounds, he’s probably too small to play at outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme, and he or D’Qwell Jackson ($4.75MM) make too much money to have either reasonably sit on the bench. He has cap hits of $3.5MM (2015), $4.25MM (2016), and $5.5MM (2017).
Otherwise, the rest of the big name trade targets don’t appear to be much of a logical fit with the Indianapolis Colts. The Bucs’ wideout Vincent Jackson is a great player, but the Colts already have T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks, and Donte Moncrief. When you factor in that it takes quite a bit of time to learn an offensive scheme and build rapport for a wide receiver, it makes it even more unlikely.
Bucs’ RB Doug Martin could thrive in a change of scenery, but GM Ryan Grigson likely doesn’t want to go down that road again of trading for a former high draft pick running back (See: Richardson, Trent). With RB Ahmad Bradshaw healthy and well, he doesn’t need to at this juncture.
While the trade deadline could be an eventful one for the Colts, I’m anticipating that it will be a quiet afternoon for the boys in blue.