The 4th-year outside linebacker out of Florida State was originally drafted by the Colts to bolster their pass rush, but was largely ineffective–recording just 6.5 total sacks in 3 NFL seasons.
However, Werner was arguably miscast in the team’s defense as a stand-up pass rushing 3-4 outside linebacker. He was most successful at Florida State in a 3-point stance (i.e. with his hand in the dirt) as a pass rusher and even with the Colts, played his best football as a standup, strongside run-stopping outside linebacker.
Per ProFootballFocus (subscription), despite receiving a -1.3 pass rushing grade, Werner just received a +4.2 grade against the run this past season.
It’s worth noting that the Colts have seen a former 1st round bust at outside linebacker have success elsewhere, as specifically 2010 1st round pick Jerry Hughes comes to mind–who’s had double-digit sacks in two of his last three seasons after being traded to the Buffalo Bills.
However, Werner had clearly fallen out of favor in the outside linebacker rotation in Indianapolis, as the 6’3″, 255 pound linebacker appeared in just 10 games in 2015–recording 13 total tackles in limited action. Specifically, Werner played in just 153 total defensive snaps (21.4%), which was down from 825 (72.2%) just a year prior.
The Colts save about $1.5M by releasing Werner–who was due a $2.51M cap hit, so it appears to be a sound football decision for both sides. Werner could clearly use a fresh start and a new opportunity elsewhere, while the Colts appeared to have clearly moved on this past season.
As a result, the Colts will continue to look through either the draft or free agency this offseason in order to upgrade their pass rushing.