Colts passing on Ryan Kerrigan at bargain price feels like a mistake

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 03: Ryan Kerrigan #91 of the Washington Football Team. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 03: Ryan Kerrigan #91 of the Washington Football Team. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard’s claim to fame is building through the draft and spending shrewdly in free agency with bargain deals or identifying underrated talent.

That’s why the discourse surrounding the team addressing the pass rushing situation has been confusing.

Ballard is apparently letting Justin Houston go. He drafted Michigan stud Kwity Paye in the first round, but then used a second-round selection on another pass rusher in Vanderbilt’s Dayo Odeyingbo, who is recovering from a torn Achilles.

Previously in the offseason, Ballard re-signed Al-Quadin Muhammad to a one-year, $990K contract and brought in veteran Isaac Rochell on a one-year, $2.5 million deal. Why didn’t he just wait for the market to materialize and spend that amount of money on former Washington Football Team star Ryan Kerrigan?

The Colts were previously interested in Ryan Kerrigan, but they passed.

Was it a mistake? Only time will tell. But Muhammad is currently listed as a starter on the depth chart, and he has just 80 tackles, five sacks and 17 QB hits in 51 career games. As for Rochell? Though he’s got 74 tackles, 9.5 sacks and 12 QB hits in 51 career games, he has no experience in the Colts’ system.

Kerrigan, despite falling out of favor on a stacked WFT defense, has 42 tackles, 11 sacks and 20 QB hits in his last 28 games — the last 16 of which featured limited playing time. The four-time Pro Bowler has 95.5 career sacks and an insane 147 QB hits in 156 career games. And the Colts were previously interested in him via trade and free agency.

We’re always talking about Matt Eberflus’ defense requiring guys with endless motors. Has Kerrigan not proved that across his 10 NFL seasons? Doesn’t the Colts’ D need a wily veteran to help out the younger, inexperienced players?

Look at how things stand right now. Indy has Paye (rookie), Odeyingbo (rookie), Muhammad (51 career games), Rochell (51 career games), Kemoko Turay (25 career games), Ben Banogu (25 career games), and Tyquan Lewis (33 career games). That rotation could get even thinner if Banogu becomes a roster casualty and if Turay doesn’t show progress after his second ankle surgery.

Perhaps Ballard has a plan to bring someone else in. Maybe Houston is coming back. But if we’re talking about price, veteran pedigree, and overall NFL success, Kerrigan may have been the Colts’ best bet. And even if his play didn’t translate to that $3.5 million, his knowledge and energy certainly would have.