Colts sign wide receiver Ryan Grant
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Ryan Grant is embracing the opportunity to emerge as something more than a subordinate receiver in a pass-happy offense.
That opportunity presented itself Tuesday in the form of a one-year, $5 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts.
“I’m just looking forward to the future,’’ Grant said.
Fine, but it’s fair to cast a glance at the recent past before looking ahead.
Less than a week ago, Grant, was headed to another home and staring at a much heftier payday. He was an unrestricted free agent after four seasons with the Washington Redskins.
On March 14, Grant agreed to a four-year, $29 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens that included $14.5 million in guarantees. The next day, he failed a physical with the Ravens. The team apparently wasn’t satisfied with his rehabilitation from an ankle injury suffered in Washington’s final game.
However, Baltimore’s subsequent actions called into question its decision to void Grant’s contract. The Ravens quickly signed former Oakland wideout Michael Crabtree, who had just been cut, to a three-year, $21 million contract.
Grant’s agent, Rocky Arceneaux, questioned the Ravens’ motivation.
Grant has taken the high road.
“I would say a lot of thoughts, but it is what it is,’’ he said in a conference call. “It happened the way it did, and I’m thankful it went down the way it did.’’
Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome insisted the Grant situation was “not a football decision. That’s a medical decision that I have no control over.’’
Grant dismissed any notion his ankle is a concern, now or when the Ravens did what they did. After passing a physical during a recent visit with the Colts, Grant did likewise while visiting the Oakland Raiders.
“If there was an issue with my ankle,’’ he said, “then I wouldn’t have passed the physical with the Colts and the Raiders.
“I can’t control what (the Ravens) did. I can’t control their assessment of my ankle. I’ve gone other places, I’ve seen multiple doctors and I’ve passed physicals. That should pretty much speak for itself.’’
While he never was a front-line wideout with the Redskins, he brings much-needed experience to the receivers room. The only players under contract who caught passes a year ago were T.Y. Hilton and Chester Rogers. Donte Moncrief rode free agency to Jacksonville.
Grant enjoyed his meeting with coach Frank Reich and his staff.
“What they’re telling me, I would be a great fit,’’ he said. “But it’s a new offense for me and the other guys. Whenever we have to report for work, all of us, specifically myself, will have our heads in the playbook and just try to learn as much as possible to be comfortable with the playbook.’’
At first glance, Grant described Reich’s offense as “an awesome scheme. I think they will put me in position to be successful as well as the other receivers that are out there.’’
Grant, a 2014 fifth-round pick, appeared in all 64 games with Washington, but seldom was more than an ancillary component. In four seasons, he collected 84 receptions for 2,070 yards and six touchdowns. He’s coming off his best season: 45 catches, 573 yards, four TDs.
He described himself as “a complete receiver, a complete football player,’’ and seemed to chalk up his four seasons with Washington as a learned experience that required him to be patient.’’
The Colts won’t have the luxury of patience with Grant. They’ll need him to contribute immediately.
The team also needs Grant to be a better free-agent signing than previous players at the position. Since 2012, their acquisitions have been less than stellar: Donnie Avery, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Hakeem Nicks, Andre Johnson and Kamar Aikens.
Not one of those signees offered more than 60 receptions (Avery in ’12) and was with the team for more than one season. That has resulted in the Colts continually dipping into the free-agent market the following season.
Also contributing to the talent drain in the receivers room has been missing on draft picks: 2015 first-round pick Phillip Dorsett and 2014 third-rounder Moncrief.