Indianapolis Colts: Making Moves Before the Trade Deadline?

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Indianapolis Colts: Making Moves Before the Trade Deadline?
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

According to NFL.com columnist Jason La Canfora, the Colts were one of several teams to contact the Browns about the availability of wide receiver and standout kick-returner Josh Cribbs. The Colts' special teams has improved this season in coverage, but the team's return game is still suspect at best.

The Colts currently rank 28th in the league in average kickoff return yardage, averaging 20.4 yards a return. The team ranks 25th in punt return average at 5.1 yards a return.

Cribbs currently leads the league in both kickoff return yards and punt return yards. Blocking on kickoffs obviously plays a significant roll in a team's return success, but having a more explosive kick returner could make things even easier for Peyton Manning and the offense.

If the Colts were to make a deal for Cribbs, the team could make more efficient use of every roster position by releasing or trading Hank Baskett, who provides necessary depth but has yet to see any playing time. With Anthony Gonzalez out of action for an extended period of time, the Colts have to keep an extra wide receiver on the roster in case there is another injury at the position. Cribbs could provide that same security and contribute significantly on special teams.

The team could also save another roster spot by sending their current kick returner, Chad Simpson, to the practice squad and keeping just three running backs on the depth chart. Mike Hart was recently put back on the active roster when Simpson suffered an abdominal injury.

Cribbs is currently at odds with the Browns organization and is actively seeking either a new contract or a trade. Unfortunately, the Browns might not be willing to make a deal that the Colts would consider reasonable.

Bill Polian values all of his draft picks and is unlikely to give up a high round pick to boost special teams production. And with several injuries and limited roster space, the Colts don't have very much surplus talent to offer. The team just released a starting defensive tackle to sign a replacement kicker.

A trade for Cribbs would definitely make sense for the Colts on many levels, but the Browns' asking price might be too high. The trade deadline for all NFL teams is Oct. 20.

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