INDIANAPOLIS – The start of the new league year is on Tuesday. In advance of that date, the Colts have released five veteran players.
On Friday, running back Joseph Addai, linebacker Gary Brackett, safety Melvin Bullitt, tight end Dallas Clark and quarterback Curtis Painter were released by Indianapolis. The moves come in addition to quarterback Peyton Manning departing the team on Wednesday.
"These players all made tremendous contributions to the organization and will forever be members of the Colts family," said Owner and CEO Jim Irsay. "It's always difficult to make these decisions which the nature of the salary cap requires. Their legacies with the Colts will be forever remembered by the organization, fans and Indianapolis community. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors."
Ryan Grigson joined the team in January as general manager. He, along with Head Coach Chuck Pagano, has been tasked with mapping out the future of the Colts. Grigson addressed the moves involving players familiar with Colts fans.
"We released some really great players," said Grigson. "All these players we would love to have them here. It was not easy. It was agonizing. You know the situation we're in roster-wise and what we're trying to do. They are cap casualties. That's the way it's been set up. There is no easy way to do it. It's hard. … They are cap casualties in the truest sense of the word.
"It's a really tough deal. It was tough on all of us involved, especially Mr. (Jim) Irsay. Fans hopefully understand that moving forward and to eventually achieve success again, we really need to make tough decisions, business decisions. We're forced to do these things in this game. It is a business sometimes. The players ultimately understand that. It's what had to be done for moving forward with the franchise."
Addai was the club's first-round pick in the 2006 draft. He started 60 of 78 career games and gained 4,453 yards on 1,095 rushes, while having 39 touchdowns on the ground. Addai was a forced out of the backfield with 191 receptions for 1,448 yards and nine touchdowns. Addai opened 11 of 12 games this past season, rushing 118 times for 433 yards and one touchdown. He was limited in at least two other appearances by a hamstring injury. Addai rushed for 1,081 and 1,072 yards in his first two seasons to join Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James as the only Colts to open a career with consecutive 1,000 seasons. He capped his rookie season with 76 rushes for 294 yards and two touchdowns and 22 receptions for 118 yards in four playoff games. It was his three-yard touchdown run against New England in the 2007 AFC Championship game that propelled Indianapolis to Super Bowl XLI, a game where he excelled as well with 19 rushes for 77 yards and 10 receptions for 66 yards. The 143 scrimmage yards marked the second-highest rookie total in Super Bowl history. Addai was the fifth 1,000 rookie rusher to reach the Super Bowl, the third to play on a World Championship team. Among Addai's top moments was a 2007 regular season game against New England when he rushed 26 times for 112 yards and caught five passes for 114 yards and one touchdown to become the only Colts player with 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game.
Brackett joined the Colts in 2003 as an undrafted free agent from Rutgers. Brackett moved into the starting lineup in his third season and wound up opening 86 of 116 career games. A tough presence in a 5-11, 235-pound package, Brackett totaled 754 career tackles, 448 solo, along with four sacks, 12 interceptions, 22 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and three fumbles recovered. Brackett was voted the team's defensive captain prior to the 2006 season, and he maintained the title through 2011. This past season, Brackett suffered a shoulder injury in the opener at Houston and missed the rest of the year. He topped 100 tackles annually from 2005-09, with a career seasonal-best of 149 in 2007. One of the biggest plays of his career came at Houston in 2008, when he had a 68-yard scoring fumble return as the Colts erased a 27-10 deficit for a 31-27 victory. His touchdown was the middle of the three scores as the Colts pulled off a memorable divisional victory.
Bullitt was a member of the Colts from 2007-11, after joining the team as an undrafted free agent. He joined Brackett in moving from that start in the league into being voted a team captain. Bullitt served as one of the club's captains from 2009-11. Bullitt had 189 tackles, 122 solo, seven interceptions, two forced fumbles and seven passes defensed. Over the last five years, Bullitt's seven interceptions rank third among all Colts defenders. He had his top total in 2008 with four. Bullitt started nine games in 2008 and 12 games in 2009. His starts came when Bob Sanders was out of the lineup. Sanders was hurt in the first game of 2010, with Bullitt succeeding him again. Bullitt, however, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the fourth game and was placed on injured reserve. His 2011 season was ended after a week two injury.
Clark departs the Colts with the leading reception (427) and touchdown reception (46) totals at his position in franchise history. Clark moved past Hall-of-Famer John Mackey in those categories, while ranking second to Mackey's 5,126 yards. Clark set the club seasonal standards for tight ends in receptions (100, 2009), yards (1,106, 2009) and touchdowns (11, 2007), surpassing Mackey in all three areas. Clark became the second NFL tight end with 100 seasonal receptions, and he became the first Colts tight end with 10 or more receptions in a game, a feat he accomplished three times. Clark's best total was 14 receptions against Houston in 2009, tying then the club record. Clark twice caught 80-yard touchdown receptions, marking his career-long snares. He had two touchdown receptions in six outings, along with three touchdowns against Denver in 2009, tying the club record for the most in a game. He joined Jim Mutscheller and Ken Dilger as the only Colts tight ends with three scores in a game. In the club's four-game march to the Super Bowl XLI title, Clark produced 21 receptions for 317 yards. His yardage was the most in a single playoff season by a tight end since the 1970 Merger, while his reception total fell one short of tying the NFL mark. Clark was selected as a Pro Bowl starter in 2009 while earning Associated Press NFL All-Pro first-team honors.
Painter was selected in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. In three seasons, he saw action in 11 games with eight starts and completed 140-of-271 career passes for 1,624 yards, with six touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In 2011, Painter started eight of nine appearances. He made his first career start against Tampa Bay and set career-highs in passing yards (281), touchdowns (two) and quarterback rating (99.4). He threw an 87-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon in that contest, the fifth-longest pass in franchise history. Painter completed 132-of-243 passes for 1,541 yards this past season.
Grigson joined Indianapolis after a distinguished personnel career with Philadelphia. He has been in NFL personnel circles for the past 13 years, and he has scouted countless players. Because he has not been in Indianapolis does not mean he is unfamiliar with players who wore the Horseshoe. To the contrary, he is familiar with them all.
"Let's be honest. I have not been here. I'm new here. I'm also a football fan, and also someone who evaluates and has been in the league for quite a while and has scouted all these players," said Grigson. "As a football person, I tremendously respect them as football players. When I came here, learning about them as people, they're all exception people. They all work really hard. They've all been great in the community, and they've been home-raised here in Indy as Colts.
"These guys are all Colts, and they always will be Colts. It was tough. For Mr. Irsay and those who have been with them and hoisted the (Lombardi) Trophy with them, I'm sure it was extra difficult. It was not easy, believe me, because you're dealing with great, great, great players, and people as well. It was evident when you talked to them, because they're class acts, all of them."