INDIANAPOLIS — Ninety-four percent.
For the Indianapolis Colts, that’s what they can point to as their official roster turnover figure since the team appeared in the AFC Championship Game just five seasons ago.
Heading into this year’s training camp, just six players remain with the Colts from their 90-man roster following that game: tackle Anthony Castonzo, tight end Jack Doyle, quarterback Andrew Luck, safety Clayton Geathers, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and kicker Adam Vinatieri.
Of those six players, just five of them — Castonzo, Doyle, Luck, Hilton and Vinatieri — played in the 2014 AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots.
When Chris Ballard was hired as the Colts’ general manager back in early 2017, he inherited a roster that was among the oldest in the league. Slowly but surely, he’s not only turned the Colts into one of the youngest teams in the NFL.
But after a 10-win campaign that saw the Colts come all the way back from a 1-5 record to earn a spot in the postseason in 2018, this roster, albeit a young one, is also built to win now.
“They got a taste of what it takes to prepare, fail and then not quit on it and just keep working and getting better,” Ballard said last month. “So even though we’ve added this new lump of players, the majority of the roster has been through the run and has the experience of failing in this league, but also bouncing back and doing something really good. They understand the preparation and work ethic and practice and how to take care of yourself.”
So just how different is the Colts’ roster since that 2014 AFC Championship game appearance?
We’ll use the 90-man roster the following preseason as a jumping-off point; it had an average age of 27.4 years old.
Heading into this year’s training camp, the Colts’ roster has an average age of 25.1 (or 24.9 if you exclude 46-year-old outlier Adam Vinatieri). The average age of all 32 NFL rosters heading into the 2018 season was about 26.1.
For Indy, that’s what 21 draft picks in two years — every one of which remains on the roster — will do for you.
Sprinkle in some free agent acquisitions either in the middle of, or about to enter, the prime of their careers — as well as new contracts for other key veterans — and the Colts seem to be in great shape for the long haul.
“We've signed several players that can make a difference,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said back in March at the annual league meetings. “So the arrow keeps pointing up, because like I've told you guys before, it's not only who you sign, but it's who you don't lose. So the fact that we're adding to the roster, but not losing any key components, any guys that are really big-time starters in their prime that were pulling the team with them with several other guys.
“We've signed our own guys and we've added some guys that are going to make a difference. And I feel really confident about that. Chris has done a great job in just patiently evaluating talent.”