Colts veterans Isaiah Rodgers and Rashod Berry didn't just earn by violating the NFL's gambling policy; they also lost their jobs, with Indianapolis releasing both players on Thursday. Explaining the decision to cut ties, Colts general manager Chris Ballard said the team stands unequivocally for "the integrity of the game."
"We ... made the roster moves as a consequence of the determination that these players violated the league's gambling policy," Ballard said in a team statement. "The integrity of the game is of the utmost importance. As an organization we will continue to educate our players, coaches and staff on the policies in place and the significant consequences that may occur with violations."
Not everyone named in the NFL's latest wave of gambling-related discipline received indefinite bans, as Berry and Rodgers did. Titans offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere was for betting on non-NFL sports while at his team's facility. Rodgers, in particular, however, had reportedly engaged in NFL bets, including on his own team.
So what does the departure of Berry and Rodgers mean for the Colts from a football standpoint?
Like former Lions players Quintez Cephus, Stanley Berryhill III and C.J. Moore, all of whom were released following their own indefinite suspensions early this offseason, both Colts veterans axed for their gambling were strictly reserves. But Rodgers was far from a non-factor in their lineup.
Undrafted out of Ohio State in 2020, Berry just joined the Colts via the Jaguars' practice squad in January. He entered with just eight games of NFL experience and was expected to compete for a backup linebacker job this summer. Most notably, his exit will thin out the depth behind starting MLB Shaquille Leonard, who's recovering from injury.
Rodgers' absence figures to be felt more, as the 2020 sixth-round pick served as the Colts' primary kick returner of the last three years. He totaled 704 return yards in an explosive rookie campaign, when he averaged almost 29 yards per kick runback and also scored a touchdown. His return average dropped to 25.1 in 2022, but he also saw more time on defense, logging nine starts and recovering four fumbles at cornerback. He also had three interceptions and seven pass deflections the year prior.
Former Pittsburg State cornerback Dallis Flowers, a 2022 undrafted rookie, could slide into the full-time return gig after several long returns in his first season, including an 89-yard score. The Colts also have former Bills veteran Isaiah McKenzie, an experienced return man, on the roster; he figures to have a better shot of making the final roster and earning a sizable role.