You can apply the term “embarrassment of riches”, when referencing the 2014 Indianapolis Colts offense.
The amount of playmakers the team has on offense makes it so some very deserving players won’t get the amount of looks they deserve. In some previous cases, players in this situation have had their talent wasting away on the sidelines while others are on the field.
This begs the question “Is it better to have that much quality depth or to take advantage of your spoils?” For the Colts, the answer is simple – take advantage of the situation.
The first group that could be shaken up is the running backs. With Trent Richardson penciled in as the starter for now, it leaves Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard to fight for carries behind him until one may be able unseat him. Behind them is Daniel Herron and Chris Rainey, to young backs hoping to make a special teams/depth spot on the final roster. The dark horse is rookie undrafted free agent Zurlon Tipton.
With three backs at the top of the roster all capable of being full-time starters, it would be more valuable to exchange one of them than to continually rotate through them, especially at a position as undervalued as running back is now.
The expensive trade acquisition of Richardson last season is known all too well at this point. The justification of the first-round pick given up to acquire him, along with his immense potential makes it so Richardson is a very unlikely candidate to be dealt. Bradshaw and Ballard are a different story.
Bradshaw is a two-time Super Bowl-winning veteran who, when healthy, is proven to be one of the best all-around running backs in the NFL – able to run, catch the ball out of the backfield and protect the quarterback in pass protection. Ballard is coming into just his third year in the league, but suffered a torn ACL and missed almost the entirety of last season. Nowadays, trading for a player who has undergone major knee surgery on an ACL isn’t as risky as it used to be. Players sometimes come back as good as or better than they were before the injury. Both Bradshaw and Ballard can provide another team with some much needed talent out of the backfield sometime before the season’s trade deadline.
The Colts can keep Richardson, Bradshaw, Herron and Tipton on the active roster, and then trade Ballard for a mid-round pick. That way they still have plenty of impact coming off of the bench and an extra draft pick in 2015 to show for it.
Next up is wide receiver. Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Hakeem Nicks and Donte Moncrief are all but guaranteed to stick on the roster throughout the year, but the trio of Da’Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill and Griff Whalen must do a little extra to prove they belong.
Teams – especially a running team like the Colts – often keep just five receivers on the active roster. If you figure Wayne, Nicks, Hilton and Moncrief are shoo-ins, then that leaves Rogers, Brazill and Whalen to duke it out for the final spot. With his high ceiling and athletic ability, Rogers is the most logical option. The team could always place him on the practice squad and pass Brazill or Whalen on to the active roster, but then Rogers would almost certainly be signed off of the practice squad by another team immediately. That leaves a decision on what to do with Brazill and Whalen.
The Colts could attempt to trade both, but the likelihood of that happening is low. Trading one and releasing the other would be the most likely option in this scenario. Brazill would be a better trade option than Whalen at this point in their careers. Whalen has chemistry with Andrew Luck and has proven to be a decent slot receiver and punt returner. However, we may be fairly close to Whalen’s peak. Brazill, on the other hand, has yet to come close to his potential. He has speed and athleticism that could help him flourish into a spot as a team’s No. 2 receiver someday. That team just isn’t likely to be the Colts.
Placing Wayne, Hilton, Nicks, Moncrief and Rogers on the active roster, and then trading Brazill for a mid-round pick and parting ways with Whalen puts the Colts in the best situation with their receivers.
Although the Colts would be losing talented young players, the value they could get in a trade for them far outweighs the benefits of those players sitting on the bench.