Ballard out with torn ACL – trade winds blowing?

With the news of Vick Ballard’s torn ACL breaking on Friday, the Colts are left with just Ahmad Bradshaw and Donald Brown at running back. Delone Carter was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for wide receiver David Reed, whilst seventh round pick Kerwynn Williams is on the practice squad.

Shortly after Ballard was placed on Injured Reserve – meaning he will miss the entire season – owner Jim Irsay once again took to Twitter to address Colts fans, hinting that GM Ryan Grigson will be scouring the league in order to find another running back.

With high-quality starters firmly entrenched in their roles, the Colts will surely be reduced to one of two options. A disappointing veteran or a wildcard youngster, as NFL.com pointed out yesterday. Grigson has shown that he’s willing to make trades in order to improve the team, making nearly 20 trades in just over 18 months as GM.

After the jump, we'll look at some of the Colts' potential trade targets.

Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals

Williams was highly regarded coming out of Virginia Tech in 2011, and was taken with the 38th overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals. However, his time in the desert has been plagued by injuries and, in some part, the running of Beanie Wells. Having signed Rashard Mendenhall in free agency and drafted both Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor, there were plenty of rumours that the Cardinals were trying to trade Williams before making their final roster cuts. With former Colts offensive co-ordinator and stand-in head coach Bruce Arians now in charge of the Cardinals, it might be worth seeing whether he’ll do his old team a favour and hand over Williams for a low ransom.

Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions

Another second round running back from the 2011 draft class, Leshoure was the starting running back for the Lions during the 2012 season, but was a healthy inactive for their opening game against the Vikings. With the emerging Joique Bell and free agency signing Reggie Bush ahead of him on the depth chart, the Lions could look to part ways with Leshoure, who missed all of his rookie season through injury. A tough, downhill runner, the knock on Leshoure is his lack of big play ability. His longest run last season was just 16 yards, and whilst he can be effective in short yardage situations, he wouldn’t necessarily galvanise a disappointing Colts running game.

James Starks, Green Bay Packers

Rumours of the Packers wanting to shop Starks began as early as April, around the time of the NFL Draft – where Green Bay, much like Arizona, drafted two running backs in Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. The injury to DuJuan Harris has slightly diminished the prospect of Starks being traded, whilst Alex Green failed to make the final roster. Starks has never been a feature of the Packers’ offense, racking up just 934 yards and two touchdowns since being drafted in the sixth round in 2010. In fact, Starks was brought in against the 49ers to replace Lacy, who fumbled early on – making the prospect of a trade, at this point, seem unlikely.

Travaris Cadet, New Orleans Saints

A preseason favourite in 2012, Cadet finds himself in a logjam at running back even after the Saints traded Chris Ivory to the Jets. Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram continue to get the snaps at running back, leaving Cadet fourth on the depth chart. This preseason was more of a struggle for Cadet, and another undrafted free agent – Khiry Robinson – impressed during the warm up games, which left Cadet fighting for a roster spot. He would almost certainly be a “low risk-high reward” type of trade, with the Saints unlikely to ask for much for his services.

A number of free agents remain on the market, including Cedric Benson, Michael Turner, Ryan Grant, Kevin Smith and Beanie Wells, but these players are without teams for a reason. They are either too old and slow (Benson, Turner) or riddled with injury problems (Grant, Smith, Wells). None of these players would offer much that Ahmad Bradshaw can’t, which makes it unlikely that Grigson will look in their direction.

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