Erik Walden, Outside Linebacker
2016 Cap Hit: $4.25M
Potential “Dead Money” If Released: $250K
Total 2016 Cap Savings If Released: $4M
Summary: It’s ironic that although Erik Walden was initially the most ridiculed of the Colts now much maligned free agent class of 2013, he’s actually been the best contributor of the bunch in retrospect (although that may not be necessarily saying much).
The 30 year old has consistently been a solid, if unspectacular outside linebacker for the Colts over the past 3 seasons. Specifically, he’s only missed 4 starts during that span, while providing the team with a reliable “edge-setting” presence against the run to infamously quote head coach Chuck Pagano.
Walden was ProFootballFocus’ 38th best outside linebacker overall last season with a -3.2 grade overall, but was the 27th best against the run with a +1.5 grade overall.
Anyone confusing Walden with a pass rusher will be sadly disappointed, as he has 21 career sacks in 8 NFL seasons. He’s largely a run stopping oriented outside linebacker by trade.
Surprisingly though, he was 5th overall in total QB hits from the outside linebacker position last season with 12 total QB hits. With 3 sacks this past season (and 9 sacks over the past two seasons), Walden does enough where he’s not purely just a one-dimensional outside linebacker however.
For the price, production, and proven durability, Walden isn’t a bad bargain for the Colts, but he could be a cap casualty if the team needs to cut more corners for cap purposes.
Working in his favor, Walden figures to be a defensive starter next season for the team once again, and currently, the team lacks a reliable in-house replacement for him.