The Colts have traded outside linebacker Caesar Rayford to the Dallas Cowboys for a conditional draft pick. Rayford played his way on to the roster and into the hearts of Colts fans with five sacks in the preseason (and a sixth that was called back on a penalty).
From the team’s announcement:
The Indianapolis Colts today traded linebacker Caesar Rayford to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a conditional draft pick.
Rayford was originally signed by the Colts as a free agent on May 23, 2013. In the 2013 preseason, he played in four games and totaled 11 tackles (seven solo), 5.0 sacks and two forced fumbles.
According to Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, the pick will come in...2015. The team appears to be very pleased with their acquisition of linebacker Cam Johnson from the 49ers, and fans, it appears, will have at least a couple seasons to compare the two before the yet to be determined draft pick is awarded to Indy.
Rayford showed a rare talent for getting into the backfield against backups as well as first team offenses (though he had at least one mishap in the open field). His reach, tenacity, and strength should come in very handy for the Cowboys.
Please try not to punch your keyboards or monitors. This may not be a very well-received move in the short term (that includes me – I’ve been on the Rayford hype train and am concerned about the lack of pass rushers on the team outside of Robert Mathis, and hopefully Bjoern Werner), but we will have to wait and see how it plays out. Also remember that Rayford may be a better fit as a 4-3 defensive end and could have wound up spinning his wheels here trying to play outside linebacker. Best of luck to him in Dallas.
In other roster moves, the team elevated TE Dominique Jones to the active roster and added 2013 7th round pick Justice Cunningham to the practice squad.
Let me see if I can make sense of this Rayford deal. It takes a couple of years to develop a good 3-4 OLB, Rayford while talented is very raw and years behind in practical NFL development. The Colts defensive coaching staff already have their work cut out for them developing Werner. Already 27, Rayford is still years away from being a 3 down gull function OLB instead of just a pass rushing specialist. Rayford looks like a more natural and less of a long shot project as a 4-3 DE, just what Dallas could use.
So once again, as with Nevis, scheme fit is a deciding factor over individual raw potential. At least in this case the Colts get future draft picks out of the deal.
Regarding the TE shuffle.. Jack Doyle is a blocking TE in the ilk of Cunningham. While Cunningham was a pleasant surprise with his hands and catching the ball, he was a disappointment blocking in the preseason. Apparently, the Colts' brass think that Doyle may be better in that regard.
Dominique Jones offers insurance at both TE and FB, something that Cunningham does not.
In large part, I have been on the Colt's bandwagon, supporting all the off-season moves to strengthen the team, But the trade of Rayford defies all apparent good sense. The upside for Rayford was huge and, I agree with you, the lack of a pass rush from anyone else in the pre-season, along with his measureables and athleticism argued that he was more than just practice player. I think the Cowboys got a future All-Pro and the Colts gave that up for a conditional pick in 2015. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Did I say Stupid! ?
A conditional pick in 2015? So we have to trust the JJ isn't going to have a team of lawyers pour over the wording of the agreement to figure out how to get out of the agreement? no bueno,
Wow I thought Dominique Jones was liable to get cut. Now we are back to 4 TEs on the 53. How does one explain the musical chairs? Was Jones a better match pair with Doyle to back up Allen and Fleener? Now the question is how long do the Colts keep 4 TE and a FB on the 53. Is this an indicator that perhaps Fleener is questionable for the opener?
More confused here on how Cunningham makes the team ,then gets cut and then when a spot opens up,gets beat out of it by a guy he had already passed on the depth chart..? Was Jones recovering from an injury or something I missed ?
@MarcusDugan im a bit upset too. He looked good. Must be too many good players for us at that position.
Grigson never sleeps. The trade for Cam Johnson was an upgrade over Rayford, since Johnson has already made the move to OLB from DE.
Instead of maybe a 7th rounder in 2014, Grigson may have opted for a 6th a year later, that being the normal formula.
I don't want to pepper the article too much with my own opinion, but I am not a fan of this move. Grigson has pulled off some surprisingly beneficial trades here and there, so I'm waiting and hoping things will pan out.
A future All Pro? Wow. I think if he was anywhere near that, that would be evident to more teams and the price would have been a ton higher. More realistic (in this universe) estimation is a very good role player as a 3rd down rusher. He has not shown any other high end skill at all, if fact appears lost quite a bit.
@JohnTemple1 I don't particularly like the trade either, but calling Rayford a future All-Pro is a HUGE stretch.
@thejoshbaker I've said it before: While there's nothing inherently advantageous to either scheme, and while some great coaches make it work well, 3-4 is also the defense of choice for coaches who think too much of their abilities and end up outsmarting themselves (*cough*JoshMcDaniels*cough*).
Now are Pagano and Manusky in that category? There's no reason for me to believe so. But let's hope that stays that way for the future.
I don't know. That tight end shuffle has been really strange. Maybe Jones had some private, non football issue that's been resolved.
@madBOXG2 And a lot of them are natural DE's like Rayford. Definitely a talented position with Mathis/Werner.
Marginally beneficial, imo. His signature trade being Davis resulted in 6 games injured and three games where he played like crap, so he got five good games out him.
@MarcusDugan I will like it as long as Cam Johnson plays well as a pass rusher. As far as Rayford I wasn't that impressed with him, despite those preseason sacks. He was a liability as a linebacker against both pass and run, while his pass rushing skills were rudimentary, based mostly on the fact that he could grab the QB with his long arms.
If something good is going to come out of him it would rather be form his DE play for Dallas.
@zgs1288 @JohnTemple1 Perhaps, but I don 't see that from anyone else the Colts picked up, including our first round draft pick, Werner, who did little or nothing in the pre-season. besides, All-Pro appears to be easier to come by these days. Landry can't cover receivers but because he's a big hitter, he was annointed All-Pro.
@MarcusDugan that's a good sign I guess. Crazy to think the year after freeney leaving we would be heavy in that position though
He was pretty awful in the open field against running baks. DE is definitely a better fit. Still, Johnson will have to be a good pass rusher for this to work out.
@thellamajockey Yes, of course, when the owner speaks, you listen. That is true beyond doubt. You may end up giving him your two cents on the issue - and if he's a good owner, and you're a good employee and communicator, he'll respect that - but in the end, it's **his** team. You do what *he* says.
If he says 3-4, you do it. If he says 4-3 you do it. If he says Buddy Ryan 46, dime prevent, or punt formation at all times, you freakin' DO it. Granted, at that point you'd BETTER be giving rational feedback ("Sir, the punter is a liability on passing downs for these reasons..."), but dammit, do it or resign. Them's the rules.
As a side note, wouldn't it be a hoot to see some coach lose all sanity and stick special teams out there for a regular defensive down? I mean... if an opponent's o-line is weak and QB sacks easy, wouldn't a FG block formation be hilarious just once as an answer? If a QB can't handle a 2 man overload blitz, imagine all 11 coming at him! Even when (not if) he gets the pass off, you will have put the fear of GOD into him! :D
@madBOXG2 I guess the jury's out on the group for now, but I can't help but to be optimistic. Tough to see a good pass rusher leave though.