Last night the Colts signed former first-round pick Tyler Brayton.
This move isn’t being met with the same acclaim the Colts flurry of signings was a few weeks ago. Part of that is because while Brayton did have five sacks for the Panthers as recently as 2009, he’s basically been underwhelming for his whole career.
It’s also because these kinds of lower-tier free agents don’t make nearly the impact fans expect.
Of the three vets Indy signed two weeks ago, none has shown signs of making an impact, and all three could find themselves off the final roster. Tommie Harris is battling injury again. Ernie Sims had a promising start, but he had appendix surgery and is sidelined for most of the preseason. As for Jamaal Anderson, he’s also been hurt.
A lack of impact caused by or at least coupled with health issues is what so often derails veteran free agents.
Recently fans have been a tizzy about the possibility of adding T.J. Houshmandzadeh or Randy Moss to the Colts. As I pointed out on Twitter yesterday, 34 year-old wideouts coming off bad years are dicey propositions at best.
Both Houshmandzadeh and Moss are coming off seasons where they posted fewer than 400 yards receiving. Of the 18 previous 33 year-old wideouts with receiving totals between 200 and 400 yards, 10 never played another down in the NFL. Three more failed to catch for even 100 yards. Four more had fewer than 360 yards. The only one to go over 400 yards at age 34 was Bobby Engram for the Seahawks who amazingly jumped all the way up to 1,1147 yards after 290 yards at age 33. Engram, however, didn’t change teams from age 33 to age 34. Two other wideouts had injury plagued seasons at age 33 (posting fewer than 200 yards receiving) and were reasonably productive at age 34.
Old wideouts who have shown a sharp drop in production simply don’t rebound very often.
A player like Houshmandzadeh would be roughly the equivalent value of a Hank Baskett. Baskett’s ’08 season and Houshmandzadeh’s 2010 are eerily similar. If the Colts were to sign a player like Housh, it would be as a fifth receiver. He would likely have no real impact on the season at all. In other words, he’s nothing to get excited about.
Signing veterans can be a good move. Who knows? Sims, Harris, and Anderson may all still work out. If they don’t, they didn’t cost the Colts much. What happens too often is that fans get worked up over players who are simply not capable of meeting hyper-elevated expectations. Then fans get angry and disappointed when players didn’t live up to a standard that was never realistic.
The Colts are a team build on the draft and the UDFAs. The vet additions might help, but it’s the young players that will have to develop to take this team deep into the playoffs.
Once the hype calms down, however, the reality remains: the Colts present depends much more on Nevis, Conner, Moala, Hughes, Collie, and Carter than it does on the likes of Harris, Anderson, Sims, or Housh.