Jeff Saturday would easily be one of the best free agent acquisitions in the history of the Indianapolis Colts. The undersized interior offensive lineman was underrecruited out of his native Georgia, as college coaches didn’t feel he had the build cut out for SEC play. This led him to playing for Mack Brown at North Carolina, where he would go undrafted in 1998.
Saturday initially signed with the Baltimore Ravens, but only lasted a few months with the AFC franchise. He would then come on as a free agent with the Colts in 1999. In Indianapolis, Saturday was a five-time Pro Bowler, a two-time First-Team All-Pro and was part of the 2006 team that won Super Bowl XLI over the Chicago Bears.
Saturday has been inducted into the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor and could potentially wind up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. Without question, Saturday is one of the greatest Colts of all-time, but we’re talking about the Packers here. What about his free agent acquisition in 2012?
It was a change of guard in Indianapolis. Peyton Manning last played a snap for the Colts in 2010. Having to sit out the entire 2011 NFL season due to a fourth neck surgery meant 2-14 for the Colts. The coaching staff was fired. Manning would leave for the Denver Broncos in 2012 free agency. Owner Jim Irsay brought in Chuck Pagano as head coach and Ryan Grigson as general manager.
Saturday was already in his late 30s then. However, he was only a year removed from making it to his fifth career Pro Bowl in 2005 with the Colts. Green Bay signed Saturday to a two-year deal worth $7.75 million to hopefully close out his playing career with the Packers.
Now snapping the ball to Aaron Rodgers, Saturday earned his sixth and final career trip to the Pro Bowl in 2012. He played in and started 14 games for the 2012 Packers, as they went 11-5 to win the NFC North.
After being the division rival Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Wild Card round, Green Bay would fall in the NFC Division round to the San Francisco 49ers in the Colin Kaepernick game. That would be Saturday’s last meaningful game of football.
Despite having one more year on his Packers contract, Saturday opted to retire in January 2013. He signed a one-day contract with the Colts to retire with the team his is best known playing for.
What has Saturday cracking this top-15 is his ability to effectively transition from one star quarterback to another and make a Pro Bowl in his final NFL season at age 37. Not too bad for a guy from Georgia that wasn’t supposedly good enough to even play in the SEC coming out of high school.