The Indianapolis Colts continue to add pieces to their in-progress defense.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday that former Patriots and Browns pass rusher Jabaal Sheard has agreed to a three-year, $25.5 million deal with $12.75 million in guarantees, per a source informed of the situation. The Colts later confirmed the signing.
Sheard figures to start at outside linebacker for the Colts across from fellow free-agent addition John Simon, who arrives in Indy after three seasons with the Texans. The Colts also have Akeem Ayers and Lavar Edwards on the edge.
After a promising campaign with the Patriots in 2015, Sheard lost his starting spot in New England last season. He rebounded to play a role down the stretch and offers valuable versatility. Before toiling for Bill Belichick, Sheard capably adapted to endless coaching and scheme changes with the Browns, who made him a second-round pick in 2011.
The Colts have signed linebacker Sean Spence to a one-year deal worth $3 million, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. The Colts confirmed Spence’s signing Monday.
Spence spent the 2016 season in Tennessee under defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, where the linebacker recorded 54 tackles, three sacks, three pass defenses and one forced fumble in 15 games (six starts). Drafted by Pittsburgh in the third round of the 2012 draft, injuries kept Spence on the sideline for the first two seasons of his career before he saw action in 2014 and 2015. Over his three seasons worth of playing, the 26-year-old journeyman has recorded 144 tackles, five sacks and one forced fumble.
Spence spelled veteran inside linebacker Wesley Woodyard jersey in LeBeau’s 3-4 scheme, and will have an opportunity to compete for a starting position on a defense that finished 30th in the league in 2016 in total yards allowed per game. Spence’s addition makes it six new arrivals on defense for Indianapolis, joining defensive ends Jabaal Sheard and Margus Hunt, linebackers Barkevious Mingo and John Simon, and nose tackle Al Woods.
The Colts have agreed to terms with former Bengals defensive end Margus Hunt on a two-year contract, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source informed of the deal.
A star on HBO’s Hard Knocks, the native Estonian rarely lived up to his Eastern Block moniker over four years in Cincinnati. On the plus side, the 2013 second-round draft pick did emerge as a solid run defender in a rotational role last season.
Hunt was ranked No. 101 on Around The NFL’s list of the Top 101 free agents.
Along with Hunt, Ballard signed outside linebackers Jabaal Sheard, John Simon and Barkevious Mingo to reasonable deals in the first week of free agency. The Colts are also making a run at nose tackle Dontari Poe and inside linebacker Kevin Minter.
Through waves of bad luck, ill-advised free-agent splurges and wasted draft picks, Indianapolis’ defense had grown stale over the past half-decade under Ryan Grigson’s watch. Ballard is off to a nice start in his effort to renovate on the fly.