Twitter was all the rage Thursday afternoon as free agent running back Ahmad Bradshaw visited the team's complex today.
With the Colts officially promoting Bradshaw's visit, it was pretty likely that a deal would follow, and contract talks were reported later that afternoon.
#colts interest in RB Ahmad Bradshaw is real. Both sides talking $$$.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) June 6, 2013
The talks would then stall later in the night:
Talks between Ahmad Bradshaw & Colts have reached stalemate, source says. Contract described earlier as close to done now may not be.— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) June 7, 2013
The contract is still impending, and has a high chance of getting done today or Saturday, although Bradshaw's money demands are one reason why he was cut from New York.
Bradshaw is arguably the most proven free agent on the market, with a alot of talent when healthy. Bradshaw was ProFootballFocus' highest rated pass blocker as a running back last season, and the 6th highest overall. He's one of the most well-rounded backs in the league, and would be a welcome addition to the Colts' thin group of running backs.
So if Bradshaw signs, where does he fit in Indianapolis?
It's been a well-known fact throughout OTAs that the Colts weren't satisfied with their current stable of backs. Running backs coach David Walker told Tom James a few weeks ago that the Colts were happy with Brown and Ballard, but a third running back hadn't emerged to join them. Walker said then that "unless you have Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, or Marshawn Lynch," a three-man rotation works best.
Delone Carter would seem to have been that third back, but offseason shoulder surgery has kept him from being active at the Colts' complex this offseason, and the coaches didn't see enough in him last year to warrant more than a few short yardage carries.
So, Bradshaw would now seem to be the missing piece to the Colts' three-man rotation. Bradshaw, Ballard, and Brown would be the three backs, the question is what order will they be in?
Really, I could see Bradshaw being anywhere from first on the depth chart to third, depending on how well he runs after his foot surgery this offseason. When healthy, Bradshaw is a very good back, better even than fan-favorite Vick Ballard. But, there's no guarantee that he will run as well as he has in the past with lingering foot issues bothering him.
Personally, I'd expect something like a 45-35-20 split between the three backs throughout the season. Brown and Bradshaw both have injury tendencies that may bother them, and Ballard simply isn't the best lead back option. Once training camp comes, we'll have a better idea of what the final depth chart will be.
One thing is for sure, however. Delone Carter should be very apprehensive about losing his job. The Colts clearly don't view him as much more than a short-yardage back, and his chances to beat out one of the aforementioned three looks slim. The task isn't impossible, as Donald Brown's job isn't set in stone by any means, but Carter has a lot of work cut out for him if he wants to ensure himself a job come September.
Sign Bradshaw, and get rid of Brown and Carter. Brown does not fit on this team anymore, he is another Polian draft bust. Keep the two fullbacks for short yardage situations.
@unitas19 That is a profoundly uninformed comment. You want to keep two fullbacks on the roster, despite the fact no other team in the NFL will do so in the regular season. You want to cut Brown, an injured-plagued back, for another injury-plagued back, though he is better. You also want to cut another running back who's flashed some talent, some problems, and some injuries.
Cutting Carter is a bit premature. Cutting Brown is just dumb. Neither is very expensive and we'd have to eat either contract for the year. Keeping two fullbacks is just SB level thinking.
In 2010, the Patriots had zero FBs on their roster. In 2011, the Patriots had one FB on the roster, Lousaka Polite, who played in 1 of the 16 games. In 2012, the Pats did have two FBs on their roster (both on IR). Tony Fiametta never played a down for them. Neither did Spencer Larsen. Guys like Hernandez and Hoomanawanui were TEs that lined up in backfield on some plays, but they are not FBs. Those are H-backs and just about every team has one or two.
If Williams makes the team Carter is gone. No matter if we sign Bradshaw or not. We'll keep a FB, he'll handle the short yardage.
If we sign Bradshaw and Williams makes the team, is there a need for Brown?
Maybe because of his injury history, maybe because Brandon "I throw my helmet at Colts fans" Jacobs was so huge, but I always thought of Bradshaw as a fairly diminutive chap. The change of pace back to Jacobs? The photo of him in street clothes makes him look absolutely massive up-top, at least. How is he as a locker room presence?
I really like this potential move. If Bradshaw fully recovers and plays at a high level. he would seem to be an ideal fit for our offense. Potentially staying in to block to allow time for the TEs to run their routes, or coming out of the backfield on 2-5 yard dump routes and pick up some YAC. I don't think how much we pay him really matters (in terms of absolute contract terms), but rather, how much money is guaranteed.
He COULD be a big benefit to the team since he can pass block and catch well. The question is how much will the Colt have to pay his feet to let him play.
I thought there was talk about Kerwynn Williams as the #3 back. Some people make it sound like he might be the second coming of Darren Sproles. So does this mean they see Williams as KR/PR only, at least for this year?
While I don't like sinking a lot of dough into the ground game (I lean far more towards Nate D's view of its importance), I don't see this as being a bad pickup *IF* he's not too expensive. He can aid in pass protection, and heaven knows there's still one problem in the (ahem!) <i>center</i> of the line.
Anyone know if he's decent at catching passes out of the backfield? Dump-offs aren't sexy, but they're often the reason plays don't end up being no-gain or even outright losses of yardage.
@AJ_ How much is too expensive? Shonn Greene went to the Titans for 3yr/$10MM/$4.5MM. Bradshaw is better but with injuries and more miles on his tires. Also the Giants cut Bradshaw rather than pay him $3.75MM this year.
I'm thinking Greene's deal is the yardstick here. If the Colts get Bradshaw for less then I'm happy.
@squirrel That's a good question. I only have a soft sense of the notion of paying him equivalent to a back decent enough to be in a pass-first offense that ideally runs 60-some % passing plays. So in other words, not in Adrian Peterson's class, but at a level commiserate with a back who blocks and catches out of the backfield as much as if not more than they run.
Of course, that may not be a good qualitative description of Hamilton's offense, so what I think may have to be ditched. We've only had a year of Arians-ball, and he's gone, so it's hard to judge what role a running back will truly have.
Anyway, my point is that I don't have a hard figure. Rather, I have a sense of the running game's share of the offensive load and focus being secondary to letting Luck win games with his arm, and think that the amount dedicated to a back should be commiserate with that.
@AJ_ By that metric just about any deal for Bradshaw is defensible. Colts are way close to the bottom in RB spending. Giving Bradshaw $4MM this year wouldn't even get them to the top 10 and they'd still be last in the AFC South. And Brown with this $1.7MM this year would have to be on the bubble in that group.
@AJ_ Yes, he's one of the better backs in the league when it comes to the passing game. Sure hands.
Ground and pound baby! Let's buck the trend and go to a 70% run//30% pass offense. Luck is far too valuable to have him drop back unless it is a max protect formation. The Colts can become the Jags from the MJD heyday!!!
(The above was written in sarcasm font.)
@DougEngland I think we need an all-sarcasm day where we can float a ton of similar ideas--maybe in the week between preseason and reg season.
My suggestion is to cut that geezer Hasselbeck and have a four-way tryout for QB among Luck, Byron Leftwich, Jamarcus Russell, and Tim Tebow. Mmmmmaybe bring in Jeff George, too. I understand he has a rocket arm. The great thing is that with a few of these QBs, you'd HAVE TO rely on a 70% run game plan, so it fits perfectly with your post. With Tebow, make it 80%. Let Luck sit the bench for a year and learn from the seasoned pros.
<blockquote>(The above was written in sarcasm font.)</blockquote>
By you, maybe. There are those who say it in total seriousness. (*haz many sads*)
I really want Ballard to develop, and I am not sure about RB by rotation when there are 3 guys involved, I think it is harder for guys to get into a rhythm, and sometimes this can stall an offense, I think having a solid 3rd that can come in to take over if one of the top two goes down is fine, but a 3 back rotation is nowhere near my dream scenario.
@paulcareyjr Not like they'll be rotating in every other play. It's more like over the course of the season. Guys get hurt, different game plans call for different types of backs, etc. Especially w/ Bradshaw and Brown's injury history.
@Kyle Rodriguez @paulcareyjr yeah, but what I envision with RBBC is that you have a lead, and when he is tired you bring in the next guy, and also you bring in a different guy when the scheme fits better with one guy than another. If we get Bradshaw I am pretty sure that he will want about 50-55% of the plays, I think Ballard gets around 30-35% and Brown will have to get what is left so I guess Brown is the real wild card, I doubt he will get much PT at all this season unless someone goes down, but my problem is I think he is more of a guy that would be productive with only in situations where he gets a decent amount of touches, he is so boom or bust on plays that it might be a waste to try to give him 15% of the carries. I would rather trade him if we could for a late round pick and have Kershwin as the 3rd RB.
I should say this is assuming that the majority of the season guys are healthy and as you said with the injury issue 3RBs of starting quality aren't bad, I just think most of the time should be spent between 2 backs and the third just get the leftovers.
@paulcareyjr @Kyle Rodriguez I'm pretty sure the entire 2011 season kind of nixed the idea that Brown was solely boom or bust. Sure he had a lot of boom, but he was the 2nd highest rated RB by DVOA for a reason. Give him an offensive line that doesn't collapse like a house of cards and he can be very productive.
@paulcareyjr @Kyle Rodriguez Who knows what The Pepster plans, but I agree with Kyle above and think back to the 2006 season--put a guy in for 20-40 minutes of game time and let him develop a rhythm, then when he's tiring a bit, or the D is cheating, bring in the other guy. In light of Bradshaw's and Brown's injury histories, it's probably going to be a two-man rotation in reality most of the time. Then next week, maybe start player B instead of A, for the first quarter to throw the D off a little (assuming they are of similar abilities and production). I'm willing to let the coaches get involved here and manipulate things--not just hand the balls to the players and hope for the best. In terms of talent, the Colts are still not where we'd like them to be, so we have to make up for that with luck (which we cannot control) and scheme/cleverness/game-planning/effort which we can control.
I like Bradshaw, though, like you said, his chronic foot problems should give anyone pause, especially a team like the Colts who seem to routinely rank near the bottom in games lost to injury. With cap still to spend and a need at the position (his pass blocking especially could be very useful on 3rd downs), I don't see a ton of downside. Even if he does get injured, all the Colts lose is some money off this season's cap (I don't know about you, but I don't lose sleep at night worrying about Jim Irsay losing money), assuming they don't give him a large guarantee, and why would they?
On the upside of things, you're talking about a running back with a career YPA average of 4.6, which is better than all but a handful of backs currently in the NFL, and a damn sight better than Ballard's 3.9 last season. And of course, as Kyle mentioned, he's a fantastic pass blocker, if nothing else you'd think the young backs could learn something just watching him do what he does.