So, the Colts signed a center. A guy named Phil. Phil Costa. Phil – admit it, you hadn’t heard of him either – apparently played for the Cowboys for four years after going undrafted out of whatever college he attended (Okay, he went to Maryland with Darrius Heyward-Bey, started at guard his junior year and center as a senior).
Costa played in 26 of a possible 64 games, starting 20, during his time with the Cowboys. He saw action in 4 games as a rookie and struggled in his only extended action, against Jacksonville.
After the Cowboys released Andre Gurode the following year, Costa became a full-time starter. According to Pro Football Focus’s grading system, he struggled through the first half of the year, culminating with a particularly rough week 6 against New England. He was up and down after that, before leveling out around average for the final four weeks of 2011. It wasn’t enough to save him from a negative PFF grade, however, and he ended up with a -9.3 for the year.
Why is Costa’s 2011 performance so important? Because we just don’t have much after that. Costa struggled with a back issue and couldn’t stay on the field from the start in 2012. He came back from the injury and started his only full game of the past two years, week 6 of 2012 against the Ravens. Costa was brilliant in that game, earning a +6.3 PFF score and helping Dallas rush for 227 yards while not letting his man get anywhere near the QB in 95 total snaps. He was injured the following week, however, and finished the season on IR.
Other than the Cowboys drafting a center to replace the oft-injured Costa, there’s nothing much of note from Costa’s 2013 season other than signing with the Colts afterward, which, for a fan base dreaming of a major upgrade, the reaction has been, well, interesting.
Based on his starts and spot duty from the end of an otherwise awful 2011 season on, Costa seems like an up-and-down, if somewhat injury-prone, center, which understandably is not what Colts fans were hoping for.
It’s still reasonable to expect Indianapolis to pick up another player to join the apparently wide-open competition for the starting spot. But who? Alex Mack is trapped under a transition tag. Brian De la Puente is Samson Satele 2.0. Ryan Wendell is a lie – ask a Patriots fan. Evan Dietrich Smith is visiting the Buccaneers. After that, it’s guys who are well past their prime.
This signing may have been a mad scramble after taking a shot at Alex Mack. It may have been the acquisition of a depth guy for $1.35 million per year. It all depends on what happens next, with either free agency, the draft, or 2nd year center Khaled Holmes. Either way, Phil Costa is a Colt. Hopefully, he can stay healthy and be average or better if he plays on Sundays.