As they have since the new regime began, the Indianapolis Colts made moves to improve the team via free agency. The Colts are near the top of the league in cap room availability, and its no surprise that they would be active in free agency.
In the past few days, the Colts have managed to keep a number of talented players in Indianapolis while also adding some new talent to the roster. But even with all the cap space, there have been a few departures.
Safety Antoine Bethea opted not to re-sign with the Colts and took a deal with the San Francisco 49ers. He signed a four-year $23 million deal that was likely too rich for the Colts tastes. He will be 30 before the season begins.
Bethea was the longtime backbone of the defense and started in all 16 games for the past six seasons. He excelled in the Cover-2 system installed by coach Tony Dungy, but at times struggled in coach Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 defense.
Running back Donald Brown also left Indianapolis to sign a deal with the San Diego Chargers. It appears that the Colts never made him a significant offer despite Brown playing like a starter in the second half of the season.
Despite never being given a chance or used in the right scheme, Brown excelled when give touches and when he was healthy. Many fans didn’t think too highly of Brown, but its clear that he was a vastly superior running back to Trent Richardson.
The big deal of the day was the Colts signing cornerback Vontae Davis to a four-year $39 million deal. The contract includes $20 million in guarantees. While its probably overpaying for Davis, the market set the tone for what he was going to get.
Re-signing him was important simply for the fact that the Colts don’t have anyone else on the roster who can play at Davis’ level. Unless the Colts wanted to go after Darrell Revis, Davis was the only logical choice.
Before free agency even began, the Colts managed to get kicker Adam Vinatieri under contract for two more years. If he plays out the entierty of his contract, he will have played for 10 years with the Patriots and 10 years with the Colts.
Vinatieri will also be the oldest player in the league next season at 41. Despite his age, he managed to hit six field goals from 50+ yards away.
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw also agreed to a one year deal with the Colts. Bradshaw only played in three games before being sidelined with a neck injury. But in that limited time, he proved to be the best running back on the roster.
The deal is a low risk, high reward for the Colts as Richardson and Ballard are question marks heading into next season.
Free Agent Acquisitions
The Colts signed former Ravens defensive lineman Arthur Jones to a deal for five-years and worth $33 million. Jones has turned into one of the better young utility linemen in a 3-4 scheme. He finished last season with just four sacks, but was particularly effective against the run.
The deals leave the Colts now needing help at safety. Aside from that, Indy still is in the market for a center and wide receiver. They still have money left to play with and will likely make more moves over the next week.