Indianapolis Colts Shrewdly Trade Center to Baltimore Ravens

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Indianapolis Colts Shrewdly Trade Center to Baltimore Ravens
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The Indianapolis Colts made a shrewd trade with the Baltimore Ravens on May 9.

COMMENTARY | In a move that benefits everyone involved, the Indianapolis Colts have traded center A.Q. Shipley to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for a conditional fourth-round draft pick in 2014.

Shipley (6-foot-1, 309 pounds) was originally a seventh-round draft pick out of Penn State by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009, spent some time on the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad, and then came to the Colts in 2012. He appeared in 14 games for Indianapolis last season, starting five of them.

For Baltimore, it's a wise investment in an up-and-coming center with some NFL experience. The Ravens' starting center for four years, Matt Birk, retired after winning Super Bowl XLVII in February, leaving the team with only their fourth-round pick from 2011, Gino Gradkowski, and their sixth-round pick from April, Ryan Jensen, on their roster at the position.

Pro Football Focus grades Shipley out well in his 476 snaps in Indy last year, so the Ravens are getting a solid candidate for the starting center position in 2013.

The Colts could afford to make this trade because of an abundance of guys listed as a center on their roster: starter Samson Satele, veteran Mike McGlynn, fourth-round draft pick rookie Khaled Holmes, and rookie Rick Schmeig, who was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Purdue on May 9.

Satele had a hard time staying healthy in his first year with the Colts since being acquired from the Oakland Raiders to replace Jeff Saturday. The big guy out of Hawaii injured his knee early in the season and his ankle late in the season, but he's otherwise been durable over his seven years in the league. He was a second-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2007 and has flashes of being a predominant run blocker. Consistency and pass blocking are his issues.

McGlynn made for a serviceable center in a pinch, but his natural position is at guard.

Holmes and Schmeig obviously have no NFL experience, so I like the idea of the Colts keeping the 28-year-old Satele, who has 85 starts and 89 games under his belt, on the payroll to help develop the young guys. He's more expensive than Shipley to keep, but he's also a lot more experienced.

The Colts also likely got more value from the Ravens for Shipley than they would have gotten for Satele. Baltimore's run game coordinator, Juan Castillo, was the offensive line coach in Philadelphia while Shipley was there with the Eagles, making him something of a known commodity to the Ravens.

Shipley's younger than Satele and, in theory anyway, has more tread left on the tires. Baltimore may not have been willing to pay so much for Satele.

Finally, this trade gets the Colts back into the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft after they traded that pick to the Cleveland Browns in April for this year's fifth-rounder. Indy then used the newly-acquired fifth-round pick on defensive tackle Montori Hughes.

So the Colts trade from a position of wealth, keep the experienced Satele to start and to mentor the new guys, and now have a fourth-round pick in 2014 again, where plenty of valuable talent can still be found.

The Ravens trade for a position of need, get a young up-and-coming guy who they're somewhat familiar with, and get him at a good price.

And Shipley, of course, now gets his crack at becoming a starter in the NFL.

A good trade all the way around.

The author is a resident of central Indiana and a longtime follower of the Colts. You can follow him on Twitter at @RedZoneWriting and on Facebook.

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