Free agency in the NFL begins Tuesday a 4:00PM. The Indianapolis Colts have spent the past two years delving into this market in an effort to improve the team.
This runs contrary to the old regime which believed in building through the draft and keeping those players that rose to the top. That starts to become an issue when contracts explode in later years and you’re forced to pay Peyton Manning absurd amounts of money.
Andrew Luck is well on his way to getting a big, cap-killing contract in a few years. Until then, the Colts are trying to build a team around him of proven veterans and utility players.
The Colts have already made a few important moves. They started by signing linebacker D’Qwell Jackson who was recently cut by the Cleveland Browns. The moves continued with the re-signing of punter/kicker Pat McAfee. Indy then choose to finally cut center Samson Satele, thus indicating that they are in the market for a new anchor on the offensive line.
There are still moves to be made in-house for the Colts. Reports indicate that corner back Vontae Davis is getting close to a deal that will keep him in Indy. GM Ryan Grigson has also stated that he wants to keep safety Antoine Bethea and kicker Adam Vinatieri.
We’ve spent time talking about all the holes on this team, but there are a few names that keep surfacing in relation to the Colts.
Eric Decker, WR
Decker has been linked to Indy in more than a few reports. Mostly it sounds as though he won’t get paid by the Broncos, and if that’s the case, then he wants to play with Luck. The issue with him will be money.
He wants to be paid like a No. 1 receiver, but he hasn’t shown that he’s really that guy. If the price is right, then by all means they should take him. But if he is demanding a steep contract, let him keep walking.
My take is that most of his numbers are more a product of Manning as opposed to his abilities as a receiver. And at roughly $10 million per year, its not worth gambling on him.
Golden Tate, WR
Tate should be a cheaper deal than Decker (because he isn’t asking to be paid like a No. 1) and the Colts aren’t looking for someone who can burn down the field. They need another possession receiver, and he would fit that mold well.
Tate can be moved around the field and was one of the best receivers after the catch last season. He’s not a game breaker, but rather a solid receiver who won’t drop too many passes. If he does end up here, expect his numbers to improve with a better QB throwing the ball to him.
Jairus Byrd, S
If Bethea walks, Byrd has been thrown around as a replacement. The problem is that he recently stated he wants to be one of the highest paid safeties in the league, and wants a long term deal worth roughly $9 million per year.
The man is a Pro Bowl level talent, and a turnover machine. His asking price is a little high, but he would be a great fit of the Colts. If there was a player to break the bank on defensively, Byrd is probably it.
Arthur Jones, DE
Jones is a good fit simply because the Colts really need a solid defensive end who can actually generate pressure. Cory Redding has more good games behind him than ahead of him and the rest of the line was a non-factor. Jones only had four sacks last season, but was very good against the run. The Colts D-line gave up a lot of yards on the ground and adding a run stopper would help.
Jones is a very versatile DE who could move over to NT and fits the type of defense that coach Chuck Pagano wants to build. Pagano actually coached him back in 2011 and he would be just another defensive player the Colts poached from the Ravens.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR
There are a ton of other receivers out there who the Colts could make a run at, however Sanders is one I particularly like. He’s a very good slot receiver and put up good numbers despite the anemic Steelers offense last season. He may be small, but he has solid hands. At 5-11 and 180-pounds, injuries are a concern but he has played in every game in the past two seasons. He would definitely be a cheaper option than Tate.
The Colts have a lot of money to play with right now. Its more important to re-sign the players they want to keep, but there are other options out there if those guys choose to walk.
We’ll keep you updated on all the moves as they happen.