Colts continue defensive makeover with versatile Jabaal Sheard

INDIANAPOLIS -- The overhaul at linebacker continues for the Colts.

They acquired another New England Patriots linebacker from last season when they agreed to terms with Jabaal Sheard. He flew in for a visit with the Colts on Friday and agreed to a three-year deal later in the day.

Sheard had 33 tackles and five sacks last season.

Terms: Three years, $25.5 million, including $12.75 million guaranteed

Grade B-plus: Sheard, like Robert Mathis had to do when Chuck Pagano was hired as coach of the Colts in 2012, will have to make the transition from being a defensive end in a 4-3 alignment to being an outside linebacker in the Colts' 3-4 defensive scheme. Sheard has the ability to drop into coverage and defend, which means he won't be a liability on passing downs when he has to defend running backs or right ends.

What it means: New Colts general manager Chris Ballard is showing his commitment to improving a unit that finished 30th in the NFL in total defense. In span of a little more than 24 hours, Ballard has signed Sheard, John Simon and Barkevious Mingo. It should be noted that Sheard and Mingo were teammates in New England last season. The Patriots gave up the fewest points a game at 15.6 last season. Simon played last season with the Houston Texans, who had the No. 1 defense. All three of those players bring a winning mentality and the mindset of what it takes to be successful.

What's the risk? Nothing is considered a significant risk for the Colts when it comes to signing linebackers. Changes had to be made with the entire group at that position. Last season's unit was relatively slow, not good in coverage and couldn't get to the quarterback on a consistent basis. Four of the Colts' primary linebackers -- Mathis, Erik Walden, Trent Cole and D'Qwell Jackson -- were over 30 years old. Mathis retired, Jackson was cut and Walden and Cole are free agents who aren't expected to be re-signed as the roster gets younger.