The Indianapolis Colts have been very active in free agency this off season. That has been the case since GM Ryan Grigson took over two years ago.
It has been a big philosophy shift since the days of Bill Polian who believed in building through the draft (a wise strategy when most of your cap space is tied up by one special quarterback).
Grigson, on the other hand, has made a number of moves designed to simply make the team a little bit better at each position every year. Has he succeeded? Absolutely.
This Colts roster is definitely better than the team he inherited back in 2012.
But now it appears that the big time spending is coming to a close. The Colts doled out an awful lot of cash over the first few days and then a bit more a couple days later.
But since then, there hasn’t been much news (at least nothing football related).
Grigson himself has stated that he’s been spending most of his time reviewing college game tape, implying that the remaining holes on the team will be filled via the draft.
The aforementioned holes are most glaring at safety and center. The Colts need to find a replacement for Antoine Bethea and some kind of answer at center (where they haven’t had anyone reliable since Jeff Saturday).
Grigson spoke about both in his teleconference on Friday.
Grigson on Bethea and safety:
“You lose a player like Antoine Bethea, obviously that’s going to be an area of concern. We have some players sitting there at that position. Delano Howell was no slouch when he played last year. When he came in, for a guy that was on Buffalo’s practice squad the year prior, he did a heck of a job. We will, of course, look at the draft. We are still looking at some other options.
“You lose a stud like Antoine who meant so much to this organization, obviously it’s going to leave a mark, but at the same time, you can’t keep everyone. That’s just the harsh reality.”
That sounds an awful lot like the team is going to Howell a shot at the position, or try to find someone in the draft. There are still a few intriguing veteran options out there at safety (Chris Clemons comes to mind). But the Colts would also like to save some cap space for future re-signings (Andrew Luck and TY Hilton’s contracts are up in 2015, also, they won’t be cheap).
On the situation at center:
“It’s going to be a good competition.You always like to be able to plug in a Pro Bowler there or someone that’s a five-year starter. But I’ll say this to make this point: You guys had great success here with (Jeff) Saturday who was (an undrafted free agent), who, I think, was stocking shelves for some time before they brought him in. Heck, A.Q. Shipley was out (of the NFL) for a year and came in and played good snaps here and helped us win 11 games (in 2012-13).”
One of the underrated reasons for Peyton Manning‘s success was the stability and relationship he had with Saturday. The Colts need to find Luck his “Jeff Saturday” to stabilize the line play and help with blocking assignments.
Protection is the king in the NFL right now. If Luck goes down, the season is over. He is the most important player on the field, despite what the coaches would have you believe. The NFL is a passing league, and Luck is one of the biggest rising stars. There aren’t too many options left in free agency, but the idea of starting the season with either Khaled Holmes or Phil Costa is more than a bit scary.
Regardless, it looks like the big spending is done with. Grigson really needs to nail this years draft, since he sort of whiffed in 2013 and doesn’t have all that many picks to work with.