INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indianapolis Colts wanted Gosder Cherilus back to help anchor their offensive line this season. They just weren’t willing to take a big gamble on a 31-year-old right tackle coming off knee surgery.
On Sunday, the Colts released their projected starter at right tackle less than less than a week before players report to training camp.
To outsiders, the timing was a surprise. To Cherilus’ agent, it was not.
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”We had some conversations with the Colts (during the last week) and they wanted us to do something contractually that we were not comfortable with,” Greg Diulus said. ”But Gosder is very healthy, very much in shape and very much looking forward to the season.”
While Diulus did not talk specifically about what had been discussed, the Colts have been preparing for this possibility all year.
Jack Mewhort, Indy’s second-round pick in 2014, spent most of the offseason workouts in Cherilus’ old spot. And although Mewhort played all five offensive line positions in high school, he finished his college career as Ohio State’s left tackle.
Last season, Mewhort made most of his 14 starts at left guard and played well. It seemed that the Colts eventually would move Mewhort outside to help protect franchise quarterback Andrew Luck from the league’s speedy pass rushers.
Cherilus’ injuries accelerated that process.
After leaving Detroit in 2013 to sign a five-year contract worth $35 million from the Colts, Cherilus started 29 games over two seasons. When healthy, he played like one of the league’s highest-paid right tackles.
But he struggled with groin and shoulder injuries throughout the 2014 season and wound up on season-ending injured reserve in late December. Cherilus then had offseason knee surgery and did not participate in any of the on-the-field workouts in May, April or June.
Still, the Colts remained hopeful he’d be healthy enough by training camp to reclaim his starting job.
”Gos is as tough as they come,” general manager Ryan Grigson said in April. ”If he’s going to be back at 100 percent, he has the mindset to do that, there’s no doubt about it, and the toughness. We’ve just got to see if his body is going to cooperate.”
Diulus believes Cherilus is ready to go physically, which he said the Colts knew.
”He did what he was supposed to do, he visited the doctors this week and he passed everything with flying colors,” Diulus said. ”He’s going to play somewhere this year.”
Making the move now saves Indy $4 million in base salary, but will cost it roughly $6 million against the salary cap next year when the Colts have a plethora of high-priced free agents hitting the market. The list includes left tackle Anthony Castonzo, receiver T.Y. Hilton, and tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener.
Colts owner Jim Irsay also has said he hopes to re-sign Luck after next season, too, even though Luck is under contract through 2016.
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