The Indianapolis Colts have signed former Green Bay Packers linebacker Erik Walden, and the reported deal is a doozy.
According to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Walden and the Colts agreed in principle to a four-year deal worth $16 million.
— Bob McGinn (@BobMcGinn) March 12, 2013
If the numbers are correct, Walden will have secured $15 million more than Green Bay was willing to fork out late in free agency last season.
In April of 2012, the Packers re-signed the 27-year-old outside linebacker to a one-year deal worth only $700,000. The contract included zero dollars guaranteed.
Less than a year later, and Walden is potentially breaking the bank in Indianapolis.
The numbers (which—to be fair—could very well be backloaded, providing the Colts an easy out after one or two years) are even more shocking when assessing Walden’s play over the last two seasons.
According to Pro Football Focus, Walden has graded out as the NFL’s worst 3-4 outside linebacker in back-to-back years.
In 2011, Walden played a career-high 932 snaps and finished with an overall grade of minus-27.4. His numbers included three sacks, 14 quarterback hits and 22 hurries. Last season, he played 882 snaps and finished at minus-30.4, with a line of 4/11/15.
Yet according to McGinn, the Colts are signing Walden with an eye towards starting him opposite Robert Mathis in the 3-4 defense.
Full details on the numbers have not been released, but a baseline structure of four years and $16 million seems overly generous at best and foolishly reckless at the very worst. GM Ryan Grigson and the Colts appeared to have made one of the first major overpays of the new league year.
Zach Kruse is a 24-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.