Trent Cole, Outside Linebacker
2016 Cap Hit: $7.125M
Potential “Dead Money” If Released: $1M
Total 2016 Cap Savings If Released: $6.125M
Summary: The 33 year old was signed to help boost the Colts pass rush this past season. Finishing the season with just 3 sacks, it’s far from a lock that Trent Cole will be back with the team next season.
The 11-year veteran appeared in 14 games (5 starts) for the Colts, recording 32 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.
Despite the lack of sack output, Cole’s camp will point out that the veteran pass rusher was still plenty effective.
Specifically, according to ProFootballFocus (subscription), his +7.1 pass rush grade was the 18th best overall among all 3-4 outside linebackers. To put that in perspective, that’s right between the Houston Texans Jadeveon Clowney and Green Bay Packers Julius Peppers respectively, which isn’t bad company by any means.
In a league that puts a premium on pass rushers (just look at Von Miller‘s playoff impact and next contract), the Colts could be wise to hold onto a proven veteran pass rusher such as Cole–even if he didn’t have the sack total that the team and fans may have initially envisioned.
Still, there’s a lot of money to save by releasing Cole, so the Colts could have a significant decision on their hands–especially for a defense that needs to get younger.
A lot could depend on whether there’s a younger and impactful alternative to replace him that’s readily available either in the draft or through free agency.