With Jones Out, Could Colts Pursue Ex-Browns Run-Stuffer Phil Taylor?
With Arthur Jones season now in serious jeopardy, the Indianapolis Colts could elect to sign a veteran free agent to ultimately help replace him. One potential candidate is recently released Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Phil Taylor, who was one of the league’s surprise roster cuts earlier this week:
As a former 1st round pick of the Browns in 2011, Taylor has shown to at least be a quality run-stopping specialist. The massive 6’3, 335 pound defensive lineman could help to replace some of Jones’ run-stuffing prowess along the Colts defensive line and provide the team with an interior presence.
Sep 21, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) and Cleveland Browns defensive end Phil Taylor (98) at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Still, Taylor comes with his own considerable injury risk, as he played in just 5 games (4 starts) after undergoing a knee scope during last season. The 5th-year veteran had missed almost all of the Browns’ offseason program rehabilitating from surgery, but played in their last preseason game before his subsequent release.
According to ProFootballFocus (subscription), Taylor received just a -3.6 grade against the run last season playing as a 3-4 defensive end, but is just one season removed from a +4.9 grade against the run in 2013 as a nose tackle for the Browns.
Taylor likely would’ve remained a member of the Browns and a key rotational defensive lineman for the team had it not been for the exceptional play of first round nose tackle Danny Shelton so far. Instead, the Browns elected to go younger with Shelton, rather than pay Taylor his $5.477M that was guaranteed this season by reaching an injury settlement.
The Colts and general manager Ryan Grigson have shown a strong affinity to former Browns in the past, as the team traded for Trent Richardson, signed D’Qwell Jackson, and employs Cleveland’s former head coach Rob Chudzinski on their coaching staff.
No one is saying Taylor is a perfect solution by any means, but at this point in the offseason, the former Baylor standout could at least be worth kicking the tires on. There are very few proven run-stopping options available along the defensive line right now, and Taylor looks like he could be worth at least taking a flyer on.
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