The Indianapolis Colts have signed arguably the No. 1 running back available in free agency. Former New York Giant, Ahmad Bradshaw, will reportedly receive a $1.1 million base salary, plus a $250,000 signing bonus. The contract is for 1 year.
So how does a player with such talent go unsigned for so long? Injury/durability concerns. The 27-year old Bradshaw has a history of surgical on his right foot. He had surgery in January , 2013 to repair multiple fractures in his foot. He was evaluated by Colts medical staff last week, who apparently weren’t too concerned. In addition to a troublesome foot, Bradshaw was hindered with knee problems last year.
Bradshaw spent 7 years in New York with the Giants. When they decided to purge the roster of high-salaried players to make way for a fresh wave of younger talent, Bradshaw was deemed too costly.
He racked up 1,015 yards on 221 carries for an average of 4.6 yards per carry last season, and scored 6 touchdowns along the way. He numbers would have been even better had he not missed four games with injuries.
“Signing a player like Bradshaw, his resume obviously speaks for itself,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “We know he’s coming off foot surgery, he’s trending in the right direction. This guy’s just another horseshoe guy, get us one step closer to hoisting that trophy.”
Bradshaw will likely split duties with second-year running back Vick Ballard. Together, they will give the Colts two very capable backs and a formidable 1-2 punch. But it’s not just his running that will help the Colts. Because he has proven so adept at pass-blocking he will likely be the preferred back on the field on passing downs. Considering how often Andrew Luck was harassed last year behind a shaky offensive line, this is no small consideration.
Bradshaw is also a very capable receiver, having averaged 31.25 receptions over the most recent 4 seasons, despite missing 7 games due to injury. This versatility will allow the Colts to utilize him in any number of ways, whether as a blocker or receiver on passing downs.
Another factor that will likely play to Bradshaw’s abilities is the recent signing of offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Under former offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians, the Colts favored a down-the-field, vertical attack, with a heavy emphasis on passing. With Pep Hamilton there is far more emphasis on a “power run game.” While at Stanford, Hamilton was known to use his backs as all-purpose threats.
The biggest question will be his ability to stay healthy. If he can stay healthy then he should probably be considered the Colts most complete running back. But second-year Vick Ballard is a talent on the rise, and the presence of Bradshaw should only spur Ballard’s growth. Also, the fact that Ballard is a capable back in his own right will hopefully save Bradshaw from being over-used like he was last season under Giants coach Tom Coughlin.
Where this signing leaves Injury-prone Donald Brown is anyone’s guess.