For the past 13 years, it could be argued that Jeff Saturday has been the classiest player in the National Football League. When one says, "Jeff Saturday," smiling eyes, a friendly grin, a hearty laugh, and an unquestioned work ethic instantly come to mind. The Colts have to make a decision about him soon, and surprisingly, many fans are divided over what course of action to take. So, I asked my Heart and my Mind if they thought that the Colts should bring their hardy center back to the squad for a fourteenth season.
I put the question to my Heart and Mind this way: "What do you think the Indianapolis Colts should do with Jeff Saturday? Re-sign him or release him?"
My Mind began the discussion. "Jeff Saturday will be over 37 years old when the 2012 season even kicks off, and the average age of starting centers in the league is 28.8 years of age. Jeff is over the average by a good many years. It's time for him to hang up the cleats, because in 2012 he'll be a better NFLPA negotiator than he'll be a blocker. I think the Colts realize that. He should not be re-signed."
My Heart was shocked. "Mind, I can't believe I actually heard you say that. Do you realize that in the years 2000-2010 Jeff Saturday gave up only 7.5 sacks? That's less than a sack a season! And on top of that, two of those came in 2008 when he was injured! Also, in 576 quarterback drop-backs this year, Jeff only gave up 11 pressures. Pressures, not sacks. That's one pressure every 52 drop-backs, or the equivalent of less than one a game. He is an integral part of this team, and deserves a contract if he wants one."
"Yes, Heart," my Mind replied, "But the Colts running game has struggled under Saturday, averaging 3.3 yards a rush during that same 2000-2010 span. And the Colts drafted 3 offensive line players in the last two years and have shaken up the whole deal in the front five. There's not much room for aging veterans on the squad, either. The signs are there, Heart."
"As far as the running game goes, Mind," my Heart retorted, "The Colts dropped one whole yard per run in 2008 when Saturday was out. And during the 2009 season, there were only 4 stuffs on 81 carries when they ran up the gut behind Saturday, or an average of good runs 95% of the time they ran behind him. Also, when the Colts runners toted the pigskin behind Jeff Saturday, they averaged 4.6 yards a carry and scored nine touchdowns. That's pretty good, Mind. And don't forget about the mental aspect Jeff Saturday brings. He must know the plays as well as Peyton, understand Peyton's audibles, and call his own audibles to the offensive line so they can adjust to the play call. No other center in the league has that mental pressure play by play."
My Mind was stumbling around in search of a response, but I decided to end the debate there before he really got toasted. I queried, "Okay, you've both had a chance to present your views. If Jeff Saturday was re-signed by the Colts, what kind of contract should he get?"
My Heart was ready and waiting. "I'd give him a one or two year deal for $3.5-7.5 million. He can retire a Colt, and play as one of the highest paid centers in the league."
My Mind chimed in, "I'd only give him a two year deal worth about 5.5 million. That's plenty of money for a center, and he can retire a Colt. Incidentally, that's what the three year, $13.3 million contract he signed in 2009 was supposed to do."
I have placed a summary of the views of my Heart and Mind below.
My Mind: Release Saturday!
1. He Is Old
2. He Struggles In The Run Game
3. He Will Cost Too Much (Notching A $4.8 Million Cap Hit In 2011)
My Mind: Re-sign Saturday!
1. He Is A Consistent Pass Blocker
2. He Is A Mental Giant
3. He Is A Capable Run Blocker
Well, I hope you enjoyed the debate between my Heart and my Mind. I think that my Heart won this debate, and while I haven't quite decided where I stand yet---I think #63 has gas left in the tank. Tomorrow we'll see what my Mind and Heart have to say about Jacob Lacey.
God Bless America! 'Til tomorrow!