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Colts Trade Hughes For Sheppard

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Jerry Hughes won't be picking up any more tackles for the Colts. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images
Jerry Hughes won't be picking up any more tackles for the Colts. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

Just two days after the 2013 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts decided they have seen enough of their first pick from three years ago.

Outside linebacker Jerry Hughes, taken with the 31st overall pick in the 2010 draft, has been traded to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kelvin Sheppard. Sheppard was a third round selection in 2011.

GM Ryan Grigson gave the following statement, according to Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star:

“We wish nothing but the best for Jerry in Buffalo. He’s a talented guy that did everything we asked of him. At the same time, we are very pleased to be getting a young linebacker who has been a productive starter in this league.”

Although Hughes was a first round selection and has only played in the league for three years, this trade is not too surprising. Expected to become the next great pass-rushing Colt, Hughes only recorded five sacks in his 40 career games.

The writing may have already been on the wall for Hughes. The Colts had two significant transactions to bring in an outside linebacker this offseason – signing Erik Walden for $16 million over four years and drafting Bjoern Werner in the first round of the draft. The roster was filling-up with outside linebackers and Grigson apparently decided Hughes wasn’t worth keeping around anymore.

Although the fact that Hughes was traded isn’t surprising, the returning piece is. Sheppard is an inside linebacker, a position the Colts already have good depth at and Sheppard’s production won’t be much of an upgrade over that of Hughes. Sheppard received an overall grade of -5.0 from Pro Football Focus for his 2012 performance, while Hughes scored a -6.6. These grades aren’t the perfect way to judge a player’s performance by any means, but it still gives a good indicator of how each player performs.

The Colts will have $2,112,500 in dead money because of the Hughes trade, according to Chappell. That’s $186,250 more than what his cap number would have been had he stayed on the roster. That’s not very significant at all, given that figure is less than the minimum salary and that the Colts aren’t in any salary cap trouble.