(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
A few days after placing the franchise tag on Punter Pat McAfee, the Colts made another roster move to retain one of their own. The team released the news yesterday that they have agreed to a contract extension with Defensive Lineman Fili Moala. The Indianapolis Star’s Mike Chappell reported that it is a one-year extension. A year makes sense here, given that Moala is coming off a knee injury, and it could give him a chance to cash in on a better deal if he has a solid season in 2013.
Drafted in the second round in 2009 to play defensive tackle in Indy’s 4-3 Tampa 2 defense, Moala adjusted to playing more of a 3-4 right defensive end role (next to the “rush” linebacker), though in Pagano’s hybrid version, they like to call the position defensive tackle.
Position names aside, Moala has showed some promise in his first year in the new system, and Ryan Grigson took notice (quote from Colts.com):
“Fili is a big and versatile player in our scheme who has a motor that never stops,” said Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson. “He’s been working his tail off rehabbing his knee and we’re very optimistic about his recovery. We’re excited to keep him in the fold.”
Moala played in eight games before going down with a knee injury last season. Before that, he was fairly durable, playing in all but two games in 2010 and 2011 (he only played 10 games his rookie season but wasn’t activated every week). Thus, the key for him this season will be staying healthy.
At 6’4” and 310 pounds, Moala has the prototypical size for his position. He isn’t necessarily a star player. However, he is strong enough to dig in against interior offensive linemen, and he goes full-bore on every play; a combination of traits that has proven all too rare. Coming off an injury with essentially a one-year deal, this could be a make or break season for Moala. But he has the tools to succeed, and the coaching staff and front office seem partial to all-in, high-motor players like him.
Moala’s quote from Colts.com was about what you would expect from a player with a chance to prove himself and remain in a very good situation:
“I’m thrilled to be back as a member of the Colts and I’m looking forward to a healthy return in 2013,” said Moala. “Last year was a special season and we want to continue that momentum. I’m anxious to get back on the field with Coach Pagano and the rest of my teammates.”
(Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)
A Possible Return for Jerraud Powers
We also know that the Colts want to retain Jerraud Powers. The team has been forthcoming in recent months about their intentions when they don’t foresee it causing any problems to do so, and Coach Chuck Pagano and Powers’ agent each talked last week about the desire to come together on a deal that keeps the veteran cornerback in Indianapolis.
Pagano spoke about Powers again this week and had some very positive things to say (from Colts.com):
“He’s a heck of a football player,” said Pagano. “We would love to re-sign him because he brings so much to the table, not only on the football field but he’s a student of the game. He’s a really bright guy. He understands the game.
“He was one of those guys after he got hurt, he never missed a meeting. He was doing his rehab, doing his treatment, doing those types of things. He became a coach on the sideline, for all those young guys and the new guys that we were bringing in. He studied the film, studied the game plan and helped those guys out.”
Powers’ injury problems are well documented. So, too are his athleticism and football IQ. Fans can expect the Colts to make an offer to Powers at the least, but it probably won’t be anything huge, as they will be rolling the dice on a player who has had trouble staying on the field in the past.
In addition, if the team signs a free agent cornerback, Powers could find himself guarding slot receivers, where he would likely excel. A defensive backfield with an improved Vontae Davis (who played well late in the season) a healthy Powers and a top-flight free agent corner would be a serious improvement over last season’s injury riddled secondary.
Whether or not he starts, and whether or not they sign a free agent, in keeping Jerraud Powers, the Colts would be getting a smart, quick, athletic player who already knows their system, and Powers, like Moala, could take advantage of a great opportunity to prove he can stay healthy while staying in a good situation.
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