Colts Release Jake Kirkpatrick

The Indianapolis Colts today released center Jake Kirkpatrick.  Kirkpatrick, a 6-3, 305 pound lineman, signed with the Colts on July 25, 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of TCU. 

 In 2009, after taking over as starting center for Texas Christian, Kirkpatrick helped TCU to an undefeated 12-0 record.  Kirkpatrick was named a finalist for the Dave Rimington Trophy (awarded annually to the best center in college football) and was named an All-American by Sports Illustrated.  During his senior season in 2010, Kirkpatrick won the Rimington Trophy and TCU won the Rose Bowl.  

Kirkpatrick was the last remaining center from last year’s squad after both Jeff Saturday (Green Bay Packers) and Mike Pollack (Carolina Panthers) left in free agency.  The Colts’ roster purging continues. 

This move also frees up a roster spot.  As I said yesterday, the Colts should sign a veteran cornerback.  But, just like yesterday, they probably won’t.

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All Manning Era Team: Offensive Line and Defensive Line

All Manning Era Team: We take a look at the greatest single seasons by position in the Peyton Manning Era (1998-2011).  Today, we look at the: 

Offensive Line and Defensive Line: 

Despite all the criticism of the Colts’ offensive line the past few years, Peyton Manning actually played behind some pretty good lines.  

During the 2004-2005 years, the Colts offensive line was the best in football.  Looking back on the line that Manning criticized following the playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2005 playoffs, he probably would take that line back in a second. 

The line in 2004, though, was clearly the best.  The blocking of Tarik Glenn, Rick DeMulling, Jeff Saturday, Tupe Peko, and Ryan Diem provided Peyton Manning time to produce the greatest statistical season the NFL had ever known up to that point.  They also paved the way for the NFL’s 4th leading rusher, Edgerrin James. 

 They allowed only 13 sacks on Manning, the league’s MVP.  The offense turned the ball over only 17 times in the entire season. 

The Colts were second in the NFL in total yards and first in the NFL in points – 39 more than the second best.  The Colts 522 points averaged out to a staggering 32.6 points per game

The Colts offensive line in 2004 was the best of any unit Peyton Manning played behind in his career in Indianapolis, and quite possibly in Denver as well.  There is no question that they deserved this spot on the All Manning Era Team.

 

 The defensive line has been both the strength and weakness of the Colts’ defense during Manning’s tenure.  The defensive ends of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were the strength of the defense, but the defensive tackles often times were viewed as the weakness of it.  

In 2004, Freeney had a career high and league leading 16 sacks, but it was actually his 2002 rookie season that made this list.  Freeney recorded a career high 41 tackles, 13 sacks and a career high 9 forced fumbles.  

Freeney, the best pass rusher in the NFL, had many seasons that could have been on this list, but his 2002 season was the best all around season by a defensive end in the Peyton Manning Era.

 Freeney’s counterpart, Robert Mathis, also is one of the best pass rushers in the league.  The two formed the greatest pass rush duo in the NFL and one of the best the league has ever seen. 

 Mathis makes the list for his 2005 season, where he recorded 54 tackles, a career high 11.5 sacks (matched in 2008) and a career high 8 forced fumbles.

 While Freeney is the better of the two, Mathis was often overlooked duo to Freeney.  His 2005 season helped the Colts to a 14-2 record and really started the dynamic duo’s reputation as the best pass rush duo in the league.  

When the Colts run defense was gashed to close out the 2006 regular season, the Colts defensive tackles were blamed, whether right or wrong.  Ever since, the Colts defensive tackle position has been considered a big weak spot. 

But the Colts of the Manning Era have actually had quite a few good seasons from a DT.  

Montae Reagor’s 2004 season is one of those.  Reagor notched 41 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 2 pass deflections.  Reagor was a very good player for the Colts from 2003-2006, when he was involved in a serious car accident on the way to a game against the Washington Redskins (incidentally, that was the game where Peyton Manning’s neck injury is believed by many to have started).  Reagor was placed on injured reserve and after the Colts won Super Bowl XLI, Reagor was released due to his injuries.  He rebounded nicely to play a season for the Eagles.  Montae Reagor was a very good DT for the Colts, and his 2004 season was the greatest season he had. 

The other spot on the defensive line (the Colts ran a 4-3 defense during the Manning Era, so that is how the All Manning Era Team is laid out) belongs to defensive tackle Tony McCoy’s 1998 season.  In Peyton Manning’s rookie year, McCoy had 51 tackles and 6 sacks.  Although the Colts went 3-13 that season, McCoy was great.  His 1998 season certainly is deserving of this list. 

 

Offensive and defensive linemen are among the most underrated players in the game of football.  It starts and ends with the line.  The Colts have definitely had their share of poor line play, but that is overshadowed by the spectacular play of so many.  These men are all very deserving of their spots on the All Manning Era Team.

Jeff Saturday Signs with the Packers

Longtime Colts’ center and fan favorite Jeff Saturday has signed a two year deal with the Green Bay Packers.  Saturday will not join Peyton Manning in Denver, but will instead snap the ball to Aaron Rodgers, and there is a decent chance that Saturday and Manning will meet in the super bowl.

It is difficult to overstate how instrumental Jeff Saturday was to the Colts’ success.  He represented what the Colts were: undersized, undrafted, and undervalued.  Coming out of college, centers such as Cam Quayle, Jason Chorak, and Jomo Cousins were drafted, but not Saturday.  The North Carolina grad signed as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens in 1998, but did not make the team.  Out of the league for a year, the Colts gave him a chance in 1999.

Saturday made the team as a backup guard, but by the 2000 season, he was the team’s starting center, where he has been since. 

He developed an incredible connection with Peyton Manning.  The two worked numerous hours together, and Saturday and Manning knew the offense and each other incredibly well.  Nate Dunlevy said of the connection:

Saturday was hardly a prototypical star or player, but he excelled in the unique demands made on him because of the Colts’ offensive system. The Colts rarely huddled, and even when they did, almost all plays are subject to change. Just as Peyton Manning was deciphering the defense to put the offense in prime position to capitalize with the right play call, Saturday was also analyzing the rushers to call out the complementary blocking scheme to execute the play. Like Manning, Saturday’s greatest weapon was his mind. Together the two outwitted the opposition for a decade. Saturday often joked that they
were like an old married couple continually arguing and fighting, but able to read one another’s minds as well.

Dunlevy goes on to point out Saturday’s role in the greatest game in Colts history, the 38-34 win over the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.  It was also likely Saturday’s greatest game.  Not only did he score a touchdown on a fumble recovery, but he made “the block” that allowed Joseph Addai to walk into the end zone for the winning score.

Even in the awful 2011 campaign, the 5 time pro bowler and 4 time All-Pro never gave up.  While other players give up in a 2-14 season, Saturday allowed only 9 quarterback pressures and only 2 sacks. 

He was very influential in resolving the labor conflict that threatened the 2011 season.  Many involved with the negotiations said a deal would not have been reached without Saturday.

But Jeff Saturday’s greatest contribution to the NFL, the Colts, and the people of Indianapolis was who he is.  Saturday is a genuine nice guy, with great character and class.  In how many cities do the fans know the name of the starting center?  In Indianapolis, Jeff Saturday is a household name, just as Peyton Manning is.  Hundreds of fans wear Saturday’s number 63 jersey to games.  His face is among the most recognizable of all the players.  Colts fans loved Jeff Saturday, and for good reason.

He was an incredible player, but an even greater person.  He is worthy of the hall of fame.  The Colts should retire his number, just as they will with Peyton Manning. 

Jeff Saturday is one of the greatest Colts of all time.  He is one of the most popular Colts of all time.

He will always be a Colt.

Thank you, Jeff.  Thanks for everything.  Good luck in Green Bay.

Colts Sign Samson Satele

The Colts today added offensive lineman Samson Satele to their roster.  Satele is a 6-3, 300 pound center who is entering his 6th season in the NFL.  A former second round pick by Miami in 2007, he was traded to Oakland in 2009.  He was their starting center for the past two years.

According to sources, Satele’s deal is for 3 years and $10.8 million, with $5 million guaranteed. 

Satele has had off the field troubles, including an arrest for disorderly conduct outside of a bar in the early hours of the morning just a few days ago.

This move means that it is likey that the Colts’ front office does not expect longtime center Jeff Saturday to return.  He is set to visit the Broncos, where his former quarterback Peyton Manning signed yesterday. 

And if Saturday goes, he deserves a send off just like Peyton’s.  On how many teams is the center one of the most recognized, liked, and respected guys in the organization?  Not to mention his hall of fame worthy play on the field, Saturday also is one of the main reasons that we had football in 2011 and is one of the nicest guys there is. 

If Saturday is really gone from the Colts, Colts fans need to send him off just like we did Peyton Manning.  He deserves nothing less.

Which Old Colts may join Manning with the Broncos?

Today Peyton Manning was officially introduced as the next quarterback of the Denver Broncos. 

“I realize I don’t have 14 years left.   This is a ‘now’ situation.” Manning said.

With that win now mentality, it is very likely that the Broncos will make some moves to improve their offense and build around the future hall of famer.  A few of those moves could involve Manning’s old teammates. 

We take a look at who may follow Peyton Manning to Denver:

Dallas Clark.  When healthy, Clark one of the best weapons in the league.  He has trouble staying healthy, however, and is past his prime.  Still, for a minimum salary or close to it, the Broncos would bring in Manning’s security blanket.  The Broncos desperately need a tight end, and Dallas would be affordable and knows Manning and his system.  I think this one is sure to happen.

Brandon Stokley.  Stokley last played for the Broncos around a year ago.  Stokley was Manning’s slot receiver for years during his prime.  Manning stayed with Stokley when he visited Denver, and he has been throwing to Stokley.  Also likely to receive the minimum salary, I expect this move to happen as well.

Joseph Addai.  Addai is likely past his prime and is not a great runner.  However, what he lacks in running ability he makes up for in the passing game.  Addai is one of the best blocking running backs in the game, and he is a reliable weapon out of the backfield.  For a 36 year old quarterback coming off of 4 neck surgeries, an extra blocker would not hurt.  Addai would also be around the minimum.  I think there is a good chance of the Broncos bringing in Addai as their 3rd down back.

Jeff Saturday.  Manning’s longtime center and friend, Saturday makes perfect sense for Denver.  Saturday would provide a great locker room presence, great blocking and a great knowledge of the system.  Saturday is the Peyton Manning of the offensive line.  Manning tells Saturday the audible and then Saturday lets the line know.  The Packers, Titans, Broncos, and Colts are all interested in Saturday, and for a reason.  The center would likely get around a million or a little more, but the Broncos have plenty of money to spend.  If it were up to Saturday, I think he would reunite with Manning.  The Broncos would be dumb not to welcome him.

Jacob Tamme.  Bill Polian said that he would sign Tamme before any of the others if he were the Broncos.  Tamme is young, a solid tight end and he knows the system as well.  In wake of Dallas Clark’s recent injuries, he has filled in nicely.  He likely will get a couple million dollars, but the Broncos should at least inquire of him.

It looks likely that many “Old Colts” will join Peyton Manning with the Broncos.

Which, you know, makes sense, as a Bronco is technically an old Colt.

Colts Sign Mike McGlynn

Last night, the Colts reportedly signed former Eagles and Bengals offensive lineman Mike McGlynn.  This news came from McGlynn’s twitter account, so it is pretty reliable.

McGlynn (6-4, 315 pounds) was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 4th round of the 2008 NFL Draft.  He played center for 3 years with the Eagles.  Colts general manager Ryan Grigson was with the Eagles when McGlynn was drafted, and we have seen him targeting Eagles players.

Last year, McGlynn played right tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, starting 4 games and appearing in 7.

McGlynn will either provide solid backup for another former Eagle, Winston Justice, or take over for a legend, center Jeff Saturday.  Saturday is expected to either retire or return to the Colts on a one year deal.  I personally expect him to retire.

Regardless of where McGlynn plays next year for the Colts, I am glad that they are finally addressing their offensive line and adding depth.

Colts Corner: Some Quick Super Bowl Sunday Links

To hold you over until the game, check out the following stuff from Pro Football Talk:

The Colts reportedly want Jeff Saturday in their front office.  At least one other team does too.

Peyton Manning willing to restructure his contract for his new team, if he is a free agent?

Archie Manning says his son Peyton didn’t want all the attention this week.

A source close to Peyton says that Peyton will play in 2012, but not for the Colts.  From the article:

Per a source close to Manning, the long-time Indy starter will play in 2012.  The source also has predicted that Peyton eventually will be the comeback player of the year next season.

But will he play for the Colts?  The source fully expects that the Colts will cut Manning before March 8, at which time he will be owed another $28 million, in addition to the $26 million he received in 2011 without taking a single snap.

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