Two words mark excellent offensive lines above all else — consistency and continuity. The New York Giants have had the best line in the NFL recently, and their starting five have played together so well for long enough that communication becomes a very simple and organic process. The Indianapolis Colts recently found they had to weigh the implications of player cost versus offensive consistency when deciding whether to re-sign center Jeff Saturday.
No quarterback goes through more pre-snap gyrations than Peyton Manning, and few centers have learned more about the game within the game — line calls, blocking adjustments, and protection schemes — than Saturday. That’s why team president Bill Polian couldn’t say no to the veteran, though he did say at this year’s Combine that the current structure of the salary cap would keep the Colts out of the free agency market. You’ve got to keep your center (and, by proxy, your future Hall of Fame quarterback) happy on a no-matter-what basis.
On Tuesday, Saturday talked to JMV of Sports Radio 1260 WNDE in Indianapolis.
Did he ever think he wouldn’t remain a Colt?
“I did not think I was going to be back. I thought I was done. My wife and I, and the family, had pretty much resolved ourselves to going to free agency. I think it was the new money that got put into the cap (approximately $4 million in cap credits that each team received based on revenue) was what allowed them to free up the space to be able to get my deal done. I wanted to do something three years or longer, right in that range, and I think that allowed them to be able to do that.”
Cap credits, yes, but consider that had Saturday left the building, the Colts would have been starting second-year center Jamey Richard, a draft pick, or a stopgap at what is a more important position for the Colts than some other teams. Don’t think Mr. Manning didn’t have a say in that!