Grigson Makes Fantasy Football Style Managing an NFL Reality

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis ColtsIn most fantasy football leagues there is that one guy who makes trade offer after trade offer.  Not making any monumental trades to improve his roster, but they seem to just make deals to make deals.

GM Ryan Grigson seemingly has taken that same fantasy football manager mentality and brought it to the Indianapolis Colts.  As fans have found out, Grigson likes to trade, as in an astounding 15 trades in the 20 months since being named GM.  He has traded draft picks, undrafted free agents, and former first round picks.  While the reigning NFL Executive of the Year certainly likes to play Let’s Make a Deal, one can’t help but wonder if he is really helping the team or possibly tinkering too much with a good thing?

Since January 2012, here’s all the trades Grigson has made.

  1. Grigson started it all off with trading 2012 draft pick #172 for Winston Justice and the Eagles 2012 draft pick #187.
    A trade for a one year stop gap player, and I use the term “stop” generously as Luck was hit a number of times last season.
  2. Colts traded 2012 draft pick #187 to the Jets for QB Drew Stanton and 2012 pick #214.
    Once again, a one-year filler and a later draft pick that didn’t make the roster.
  3. Colts traded 2012 draft pick #97 and 2013 draft pick #157 to the 49ers for T.Y. Hilton.
    A solid trade looking back on it for the Colts, as T.Y. has shown he can be electric with the ball in his hands.
  4. In May 2012, Grigson traded FB Chris Gronkowski for Denver CB Cassius Vaughn.
    A decent trade, since Gronkowski wasn’t likely to make the roster and Vaughn has stuck around as a backup CB and returner.
  5. Colts trade backup DT Ollie Ogbu to the Eagles for CB D.J. Johnson.
    I’m not even sure Johnson made it out of training camp, so this trade didn’t quite work out.
  6. Grigson went back to Philly and traded CB Kevin Thomas for Eagles LB Moise Fokou and LB Greg Lloyd.
    Thomas, another wonderful Polian selection, is out of the league and neither Fokou or Lloyd are on the Colts roster, but Fokou played well in spots for the Colts last season so that was beneficial overall.
  7. The Colts then got CB Josh Gordy from the Rams for an undisclosed 2014 draft pick.
    He’s still on the roster at this point, but that’s the first of several 2014 picks traded away. It’s hard to say Gordy is worth a draft pick with how he was consistently burned last season.
  8. Grigson traded 2013 2nd round pick (#54 overall) to Dolphins for CB Vontae Davis.
    This one looks like another steal, but at the time was questionable given the predicted draft position and questions regarding Davis’s maturity. However, Davis has shown true ability on the outside and may be a cornerstone for the defense from here on out.
  9. Colts traded reserve DE Clifton Geathers to the Eagles for FB Stanley Havili.
    Havili made the 2013 53-man roster and seems like an integral part of the “no coast” offense moving forward. Geathers likely would have been cut in the first set of cuts, so again, a solid move.
  10. In the 2013 draft, the Colts traded their 2014 4th round pick to Cleveland for Montori Hughes.
    The jury is still out on this move but Hughes was seemingly on the roster bubble after all of the free agent additions, so it’s still a bit questionable as 4th round picks are very valuable.
  11. Following the draft, the Colts shipped former first round bust Jerry Hughes to Buffalo for ILB Kelvin Sheppard.
    Getting anything for a first round bust like Hughes is a steal in my book. Sheppard has shown solid ability, or at least more ability than Hughes who “wasn’t really given a shot in Indy”, which isn’t too hard.
  12. About a week later, Grigson traded OC A.Q. Shipley to the Ravens for a 2014 late round conditional draft pick.
    This trade still makes little sense as Satele is struggling and A.Q. clearly outplayed him while making significantly less money.
  13. After signing Ahmad Bradshaw, the Colts traded RB Delone Carter to the Ravens for WR David Reed.
    This is basically getting whatever he could for a guy that wasn’t going to make the roster, but after watching Reed play, it’s hard to figure out how he made the roster either.
  14. Just this week, Grigson made a move to shore up a lacking OLB position in getting OLB Cam Johnson from the 49ers for a reported 2014 7th round draft choice.
    The strength of this position has been questioned all preseason, and it seems like a solid move to shore it up with young, somewhat experienced talent.
  15. After making the Johnson trade, Grigson then traded away preseason stud and fan favorite Caesar Rayford to the Cowboys for an undisclosed draft pick.

So as you can see, Grigson has been a busy, busy man, never resting on his laurels. However, only a few of those trades really made any significant difference to the team; the T.Y. Hilton and Vontae Davis deals being the ones to produce immediate dividends. However, to Grigson’s credit, the majority of the trades made have produced players still on the Colts roster.

The latest two trades may be the most intriguing simply because of the obvious correlation between the two moves. The Colts get an interesting prospect in Cam Johnson for reportedly a 2014 draft 7th round pick. Johnson is 6’3”, 270lbs who, like Rayford, came off an impressive preseason. In his last preseason game he recorded two sacks, blocked a kick, and recovered it for a touchdown. He was projected by some in 2012 to be drafted as high as the second round but dropped to the seventh likely due to sickle cell traits. He also has experience in a true 3-4 defense coming from San Francisco, so that bodes well for him coming to the Colts system. The most important and likely missed aspect of Johnson is that he is only 23 years old and has many years left, if he’s able to avoid injury.

Caesar Rayford, as we all probably know by now, was a 27 year old undrafted free agent signed from the Arena League. He clearly showed an ability to rush the passer, accumulating 5 sacks over the course of the preseason, but against lesser competition. He’s physically imposing at 6’8” but a thin 225lbs.  With the acquisition of Johnson though, Rayford became expendable and likely wouldn’t be more than a special teams player. Grigson did well to recoup a draft pick from the ever needy Cowboys, likely also a 7th rounder.

There should be some reservations, though, with Grigson receiving likely two 7th round draft picks for Rayford, and the previously mentioned A.Q. Shipley trade. Grigson has missed badly on his 6th and 7th round picks over the past two drafts. None of the 6 players drafted in those two rounds are currently on the Colts 53-man roster. However, in basically trading Rayford for Johnson, the Colts got younger with more NFL experience and flipped an undrafted free agent into a draft pick. Can’t complain too much about that.

While some deals have panned out, others have not. That’s the inherent risk in the NFL trading business. Grigson continues to tinker with the roster like many fantasy football managers do to their team. For fans, it gives us something to talk about. For the team, it provides “healthy” competition. It will be interesting to see if Grigson makes any more moves this regular season, or will he for once stand pat? As a Colts fan and blogger, I hope he keeps on tinkering.

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