March 07, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Now the Indianapolis Colts are in the market for a backup quarterback.

On Monday, one week after 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck said goodbye to fans in a Twitter post, the Colts released his presumed successor, Josh Freeman. The move leaves only two quarterbacks, starter Andrew Luck and untested Stephen Morris, on Indy's roster.

Team officials did not say why the move was made.

Freeman and Ryan Lindley were both signed as free agents Dec. 29 when Luck, Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst were all battling injuries. Freeman had not played in the NFL in two years, but he and Lindley teamed up to beat Tennessee in the finale - a win that prevented Chuck Pagano from enduring his first losing season as head coach and may have saved his job.

Pagano was rewarded the next day with a four-year contract extension.

Since then, the Colts have been busy.

Pagano shook up his coaching staff, and the Colts released Lindley earlier this year.

Hasselbeck and Whitehurst are both expected to become free agents Wednesday and the decision about Freeman, a former first-round pick, could be the first of even more moves.

Indy could save roughly $11.25 million just by releasing receiver Andre Johnson and linebacker Trent Cole, neither of whom was as productive as expected last season.

The Colts' two tight ends, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, kicker Adam Vinatieri and three other starters - linebacker Jerrell Freeman, safety Dwight Lowery and Greg Toler - are all set to hit the open market Wednesday.

''We're going to try and re-sign as many of our own guys as we can,'' general manager Ryan Grigson said during the recent NFL scouting combine.

Indy has two problems: It wants a better offensive line and a stronger pass rush, and it has only about $25 million in salary cap room to do both, if they keep Johnson and Cole.

Plus, they'll need to find a backup for Luck, who missed nine games with injuries last season.

''We've got some good players out there and we'd like to re-sign them,'' Grigson said. ''But these are hard decisions.''



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