Ryan Kelly

Colts To Pick Up Ryan Kelly’s Fifth-Year Option

The 2019 draft is officially in the rearview mirror. Coaches and front office heads are holding post-draft press conferences, and some news is beginning to trickle out of them.

Colts GM Chris Ballard said at his press conference that the team will pick up the fifth-year option on center Ryan Kelly‘s contract, per Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). Kelly was taken by the Colts 18th overall back in 2016. This isn’t too surprising, as Kelly has been a starter since his rookie season. We don’t know the exact terms of the option yet, but it’ll pay him somewhere close to $10MM.

The fifth-year option is only guaranteed for injury, so it doesn’t actually ensure Kelly will be with the team at that price in 2020. Kelly has been a bit banged up the past couple of years, missing four games in 2018 and nine games in 2017. But he’s been solid when he’s been able to stay on the field, earning Pro Football Focus’ 14th-best grade among all centers last year.

Indianapolis’ offensive line took a major step forward last year, and was a huge part of the team’s success. Keeping Andrew Luck upright is the most important thing for the team, and they clearly view Kelly as the longterm answer at center. An Alabama product, Kelly will turn 26 next month.

Teams have until May 3rd to pick up the options on their 2016 first round picks. You can view the tracker with each team’s decision here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Rumors: Pees, Kelly, Saints, Falcons

New Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees had to be hospitalized during Sunday’s game against the Colts because of a medical issue. But the 69-year-old assistant is back healthy and working with the the Titans, Mike Vrabel said Wednesday. Pees was coaching on the Titans’ practice field during their first Week 12 workout, per Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. The veteran DC stayed at an Indianapolis hospital overnight but returned to Nashville, Tenn., on Monday. He’s expected to make the trip to Houston for the Titans-Texans’ Monday night game.

Here’s the latest from some other South teams on Thanksgiving Eve.

  • The anchor of an improved Colts offensive line will not be available Sunday against the Dolphins. Ryan Kelly has an MCL sprain and will miss Indianapolis’ Week 12 contest. The third-year center feared a much worse injury occurred in Sunday’s win over the Titans. “I was worried about the ACL, but that’s intact. It’s reassuring,” Kelly said, via CBS4’s Mike Chappell. Kelly said he underwent knee surgery in high school and is receiving a second opinion, per Chappell. This malady does not require a corrective procedure, and it’s possible Kelly may be back soon. An addition off the Rams’ practice squad, Evan Boehm will start in Kelly’s place.
  • Signed to essentially take Dez Bryant‘s place on the Saints‘ roster, Brandon Marshall signed for the 13th-year veteran’s minimum, Nick Underhill of The Advocate tweets. He signed for $1.02MM and will count $259K toward New Orleans’ cap. Bryant signed for slightly more than the veteran minimum — $1.25MM — with incentives tied to his deal. It’s not known if Marshall has incentives attached to his pact. He’s yet to suit up for the Saints.
  • The Falcons activated Deion Jones last week but did not deploy him against the Cowboys. The acclaimed Atlanta middle linebacker will also miss the Falcons’ Thanksgiving game in New Orleans, being declared out in advance of the NFC South rivalry matchup. Jones suffered a foot injury in Week 1 and spent two months on IR. He’s on Atlanta’s active roster now, and it’s possible the Falcons are giving him an extra 10 days to prepare for a Week 13 return. However, at 4-6, the Falcons can ill-afford any more losses if they want to preserve their fleeting playoff hopes.

Colts Cut Austin Howard, Reach 53-Man Roster

The Colts are at the 53-man roster max after making a bundle of transactions, including the release of offensive tackle Austin Howard.

[RELATED: Colts Cut John Simon]

The Colts invested $1.3MM guaranteed in Howard, but he was medically cleared until late July and struggled in camp and during the preseason. The Colts dangled him in trade talks this week, but there were no takers for him.

Despite his issues this summer, Howard had a solid 2017 with the Ravens and graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 36 offensive tackle. If healthy, he could draw interest from other teams.

The Colts also placed defensive end Chris McCain, linebacker Jeremiah George, defensive end Anthony Johnson, and tight end Ross Travis on injured reserve.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Colts’ moves:

Waived:

Last year, Bond ascended to the starting center job when Ryan Kelly broke his foot late in training camp. Unfortunately, a torn quad landed him on IR in October. This year, he’ll be looking for work elsewhere.

Alie-Cox was a former basketball player looking to transition to tight end. Although Antonio Gates and others have successfully made the jump, Alie-Cox has yet to find similar success.

In addition to the aforementioned moves, the Colts also waived the following players with an injury designation. If they clear waivers, then they revert to the Colts’ Injured Reserve list:

Colts Place C Ryan Kelly, LB Jon Bostic On IR

The Colts have placed two starters on injured reserve. Linebacker Jon Bostic and center Ryan Kelly will both be shut down in advance of Saturday’s penultimate game against the Ravens. In a related move, the team has signed free agent defensive tackle Caraun ReidRyan Kelly (Vertical)

Kelly has played only seven games this season thanks to injuries. The center missed the start of the year due to foot surgery. Unfortunately, a concussion in Week 12 has kept him out of action for the last three games. It’s hardly the encore that the No. 18 overall pick in the 2016 draft was hoping for.

Bostic spent all of 2016 on IR but managed to start in 14 games in 2017. His season ends with a career-high 97 tackles along with one sack, one fumble recovery, and three passes defended. He also graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 40 linebacker in the NFL, a career best. He’s eligible for free agency this offseason but it seems likely that the Colts will discuss an extension with him before he can reach the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts C Deyshawn Bond Suffers Torn Quad

Colts center Deyshawn Bond, who left Sunday night’s game on the second play, has suffered a torn quad, according to a source who spoke with ESPN.com’s Mike Wells (Twitter link). It’s too early to have an exact timetable on Bond’s return, but a torn quad will likely rule him out for the season. Deyshawn Bond (vertical)

[RELATED: Colts Make Practice Squad Moves]

Bond ascended to the starting center job when Ryan Kelly broke his foot late in training camp. His injury is unfortunate, but the good news is that Kelly started practicing last week and the team is hoping that he’ll be back in action before long. With some luck, he may be able to go next Sunday against the 49ers.

I mean, the last time that I actually really got down in a stance like that and hit somebody was against Detroit, so it’s been seven, eight weeks or so. But I think it’s kind of like riding a bicycle, so once you’re a couple practices in or so you start getting used to it,” Kelly recently said of his recovery (link via team website). “But I think just conditioning-wise and getting back into football shape, it’s amazing how fast you can get out of it. So that will certainly come with time. But (I’m) working every day just to stay in shape and get stronger, so looking forward to it.”

In three games this year (excluding this Week 4 contest against Seattle), Bond was on the field for 104 passing snaps and 85 run snaps, per Pro Football Focus’ data. He earned a poor 42.2 score from PFF in that limited sample, but Kelly liked what he saw from his understudy.

He’s played really well — a real strong guy,” said Kelly. “It’s awesome we got him out of (college) free agency, and to see how hard he’s worked every single day to come in and prepare, and he’s been a real pro. Every day he’s gotten better, and it’s awesome to see.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts C Ryan Kelly To Have Foot Surgery

Some injuries can be healed with Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Unfortunately, the R.I.C.E method did not work for Colts center Ryan Kelly. His broken foot will require surgery, coach Chuck Pagano told reporters on Thursday morning.

Kelly will likely be sidelined for 6-8 weeks, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears. Given that timeframe, he’ll likely be placed on injured reserve and designated for return midseason, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets."<strong

[RELATED: Colts Interested In Jeremy Zuttah]

Kelly was selected with the No. 18 overall pick in last year’s draft and went on to start in every game for the Colts last year. This season, he was being counted on to reprise that role.

The injury could motivate the Colts to turn to the free agent market. The Colts have been in talks with Jeremy Zuttah and they were working to line up a visit for this week. If Zuttah opts to return to Baltimore instead, the Colts could also consider free agent options like former Pro Bowler Nick Mangold.

For now, undrafted free agent addition Deyshawn Bond profiles as the team’s likely starter in Kelly’s absence. Adam Redmond, a 2016 UDFA, could also push for the job.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Rumors: Cousins, Long, Scheme

This week’s been heavy on Redskins news, from the latest on DeSean Jackson‘s status, to counterpart Pierre Garcon being a coveted commodity, to updates on what’s been an interesting month for the team’s defensive staff. Here’s more coming out of Washington.

  • As a second standoff with Kirk Cousins appears to be brewing, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk injects another scenario that could either keep the quarterback in Washington on a year-to-year basis or affect negotiations on a potential long-term deal. While the Redskins using the franchise tag on their quarterback this year would pay him $23.94MM in 2017, doing so again in ’18 would come out to nearly $35MM. An untenable figure, but Florio notes the team could use the transition tag on Cousins in 2018 to lower that number. Applying the lesser-used tag would bring a 20 percent increase from Cousins’ prospective 2017 tag salary, producing a $28.78MM amount. This arrangement, while unlikely, could have an impact on how the team proceeds with Cousins’ deal in the coming months, with the first two years of said proposal reflecting the franchise-plus-transition amounts instead of the salaries mirroring a two-franchise tag format.
  • This $52.72MM over two years would make Cousins the highest-paid player in football, but that’s a possibility, notes ESPN.com’s John Keim. Cousins putting a near-5,000-yard season on top of what was a quality second half of the 2015 slate would obviously make him a viable passer on the open market. Although he may not get there, other teams would be lining up with interest, with the 49ers being just one. With that now factoring into his deal, Keim writes there’s a “good chance” Cousins’ AAV exceeds Andrew Luck‘s league-high $24.594MM. But with Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr entering walk years, and now the Falcons sending out signals they want to compensate Matt Ryan for his MVP season, Keim predicts one of these four passers being the league’s highest-paid player before next season starts.
  • Kory Lichtensteiger resided as Washington’s starting center for most of this decade, but after the 31-year-old retired, Spencer Long is now in that position. And both JP Finlay and Rich Tandler of CSNMidAtlantic.com expect Long to stay as the starting center next season and possibly serve as the long-term answer. Long’s rookie contract runs through 2017. Tandler also notes Scot McCloughan eyed now-Colts center Ryan Kelly with the Redskins’ first-round pick last year despite a 2014 third-round investment in Long.
  • The Redkins have used a 3-4 defense since Mike Shanahan‘s arrival in 2010, but Finlay argues they should pivot back to a 4-3 look unless a competent nose tackle arrives via the draft. Finlay expects new DC Greg Manusky to stay with a 3-4 look. Manusky’s been a DC for nine seasons — with the 49ers, Chargers and Colts — and utilized this alignment in each.
  • Substandard work during his first two offseasons will induce Bruce Allen to apply pressure on McCloughan during this one.

Impact Rookies: Indianapolis Colts

The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?

To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.

Now, we continue PFR’s Impact Rookie series with his insight on the Indianapolis Colts’ draft class:

One can argue that head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson are like oil and vinegar, as they just don’t seem to mix. Now, with both having their jobs on the line, they hope they can find the right ingredients for the team’s salad before both are tossed by ownership. Grigson does not have a great track record to survive another draft disaster, but outside of his first two choices in the 2016 draft, the other six selections will have a fight on their hands to secure roster spots.

Since taking over as general manager in January 2012, Grigson has overseen the draft with less than stellar results. Not counting his cache in 2016, he’s drafted 26 players from the 2012-15 phases. Based on his current roster, seven of those choices have earned starting jobs for the Colts. Four others precariously hang on to reserve roles, while eighteen others are no longer with the team, including a slew of them no longer in the league. Now, Grigson hopes he can stem the tide from those draft day disasters that also include 2013 first round selection Bjoern Werner.

Grigson’s first-ever draft selection was a no-brainer, taking franchise quarterback Andrew Luck with the top pick in 2012. However, Luck has been constantly harassed in the pocket while playing behind what is unanimously considered the worst offensive line in pro football last year. To protect their quarterback, the team pulled out a page from Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown’s mantra for building a team – start with a franchise-type center and build your line around him.

First Round – Ryan Kelly, C (Alabama, No. 18)

Luck looked like the Titanic – a total wreck – just seven games into the 2015 season. That was all the games the franchise QB would appear in, as five others tried their hand at quarterback after Luck was lost for the rest of the season. The former Stanford product produced his worst pro season ever, as he completed just 55.3% of his passes and had almost as many interceptions (12) as touchdown tosses (15). Ryan Kelly

The offensive line allowed 35 sacks last year. Luck was hit an incredible 121 times after getting rid of the ball and the running corps remained dormant, averaging 3.6 yards per attempt while reaching the end zone just six times. On top of it, those ball carriers coughed up the sphere nineteen times, resulting in eleven recoveries by the opposition.

Something needed to change in the trenches – enter Ryan Kelly, perhaps the “toughest hombre” to play in the pivot since the heydays of the Bears’ Olin Kreutz. With multiple national title rings on his fingers, Kelly brings that instant nastiness to the line that has been missing since Jeff Saturday was snapping the ball to Peyton Manning.

In the Colts’ zone blocking scheme, the center needs to be athletic enough to work down the line, along with having the agility to block in the second level. Against 3-4 defensive alignments, they are also required to have that strong anchor, in order to stall the two-gap charge from the nose guards. In most cases, size does not matter –intelligence, strength and balance are more important. Field smarts are needed to immediately identify the defense’s pressure packages.

Strength is needed, in order to stall the bull rush and help in widening the rush lanes. Quick feet and fluid retreat skills are required, as it is often the center that has to drop back and protect the pocket in passing situations. A long reach, firm anchor and great balance are important for the center, as he is usually asked to work in combination with his guards getting out in front on traps and pulls. These are all the traits that Kelly brings to the table, giving the team an immediate upgrade from former starter, Khaled Holmes.

Kelly might also have some “new friends” on the offensive line, as third round pick, Le’Raven Clark, will serve as an understudy behind Anthony Castonzo at left tackle. Five round choice, Joseph Haeg, shifts to right tackle, where he could mount a challenge for Denzelle Good’s precarious hold on the starting job. Toss in seventh round center/guard Austin Blythe for good measure, as there are no other back-ups to Kelly at center on the roster.

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Colts, Ryan Kelly Agree To Deal

The Colts have agreed to terms with their first-round pick, center Ryan Kelly, as Mike Wells of ESPN.com writes. Kelly was the No. 18 overall pick in last week’s draft. Ryan Kelly

Kelly was a consensus All-American in 2015 and following two collegiate seasons in which he did not allow a sack, he was widely projected to be a first-round pick in this year’s draft. Last week, Peter Schrager of FOX Sports reported prior to the draft that Kelly had a chance of going in the top twenty and his floor was believed to be No. 21 where Washington was picking. The Colts did not want to bypass the chance to grab the draft’s best center and pounced on the Alabama product at No. 18.

According to his slot, Kelly will receive a four-year, $10.45MM deal with a $5.8MM signing bonus. Kelly now becomes the second first-round pick from this year’s draft to agree to terms with his team. On Wednesday morning, safety Keanu Neal inked his deal with the Falcons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Schrager’s Latest: Joseph, Kelly, Giants

Earlier tonight, Peter Schrager of FOX Sports took to Twitter to pass along his latest draft buzz. Here’s a rundown of everything: