The Indianapolis Colts and Trent Cole agreed Tuesday to restructure the final year of the outside linebacker’s contract in a move that will reduce his base salary by $2.25 million, according to ESPN’s Field Yates and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
This evidently beats the alternative for both sides.
Cole, 33, had just three sacks last season and the Colts could have saved $6.125 million by releasing him from the back half of the two-year, $14-million deal he signed last offseason. The Colts’ restructure offer likely meant “or else,” and the pass rusher probably wasn’t going to fetch the same kind of money in free agency. His base salary will be $2 million instead of $4.25 million, with $1 million guaranteed.
But from a team perspective, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said during the recent NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium that he wasn’t sold on the depth of pass rushers available in the upcoming draft. And the Colts can’t afford to spend much in free agency to shore up an obvious area of concern.
The team ranked 22nd in sacks last season and pass-rush depth is an issue. All-time sack leader Robert Mathis recently turned 35 and is entering the final year of his contract. Jonathan Newsome, who led the team in sacks as a rookie two seasons ago, was released after a recent arrest for marijuana possession.
So Cole gets another chance.
In 14 games last season, his 32 combined tackles and three sacks were the lowest season total of his 11-year career. He had 85.5 sacks in a decade with Philadelphia, but hasn’t hit double digits since 2011 and has averaged just five sacks per season in four years.
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