OK, so we still don't have football. To take our mind off this silliness, here's another 'Let's Waste Our Time' article about stuff that's too early to accurately chit-chat about (and, likely, has no realistic chance of happening). But, we're going to talk about it anyway because the lockout is a swirling bucket of horse sh*t, and I need a break from all the negativity.
Today, we talk free agents.
For the most part, the Colts addressed their putrid offensive line in the 2011 NFL Draft. Sure, they could pick up a guard or another tackle from the scrap heap, but in general this line is pretty well locked down, at this point. Barring injury, Anthony Castonzo is the new left tackle, and likely re-signed Charlie Johnson is either moved inside or out to RT.
Thus, o-line is set.
Same with running back. We're unlikely to see the reanimated corpse of Tiki Barber's career signed to the Colts roster, or Brandon Jacobs throwing a Colts helmet into the stands as opposed to a Giants helmet. I think WR stays the same as well. Maybe a rookie free agent, but the starting three (Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie) stay the same, with Anthony Gonzalez and Blair White kept on as injury fodder.
Now, on defense... that's where I can see some possible free agent love.
Obviously, we don't know what the cap will be for 2011. Heck, the cap might go away forever. Not desirable, but certainly possible. But, we'll assume some kind of cap will be in place in 2011. With Bob Sanders' useless and bloated contract gone, and the likely parting of Ryan Diem from the roster, the Colts should have some money to play with once free agency starts. Knock Kelvin Hayden and his LOL! contract from the team, and things get more interesting.
Side Note: Yeah, I wouldn't cry if Kelvin were cut. He hasn't been anything great the last two years, and the Colts won a championship with Nick Harper and Jason David as the starting corners. Corner play is over-rated, in my opinion. It's all about pass rush and safety play.
Key for the Colts in 2011 (as in all years) is stopping the run. Much of the time, when the Colts shut down the opponent's run game, they win. When they don't, they lose (unless the opponent sucks, and Peyton Manning is somehow able to bail the team out). Prior to the lockout, the Colts signed defensive tackle DeMario Pressley to the roster. Pressely is 6'3, 301 pounds. Indy also has rookie Drake Nevis (304 pounds) and Fili Moala (303 pounds). None of these guys are the rock solid DT that was Antonio Johnson (310 pounds). Mookie will, hopefully, get re-signed. But, as we all know, this team shouldn't be comfortable with their DTs even if they had 10 on the roster.
There's also the weakness at safety, and a few other positions. Knowing this, here are a few 'dream' free agents that, if one were to sign with the Colts, it could make the difference between winning and losing in the playoffs.
Barry Cofield, DT
At 6'4, 303 pounds, Cofield has started since he was a rookie. He's missed a total of two games in five seasons. Two! He's started every game at DT for the Giants in 2009 and 2010. He had 54 tackles and 4 sacks in 2010. Daniel Muir, who started 14 games last year, had 38 tackles, no sacks. Gonna go out on a limb and say Cofield's a tad better of an upgrade at DT than Muir. Among DTs (according to Advanced Stats), Cofield ranked 9th in QB hits in 2010 (9 total for the season). When ranking Cofield's 'tackle factor' in 2010, he was in the top eight. Cofield is, quite simply, a stud in the middle. He's a Neo Booger McFarland for this team.
Brendon Mebane, DT
Like Cofield, Mebane is a stud DT. It makes no sense for the Seattle Seahawks to let him go, but this is Pete Carroll we are talking about. Someone asked me how it felt to watch Sean Peyton (the man who 'outcoached' Jim Caldwell in Super Bowl XLIV) get 'outcoached' by Pete Carroll in the playoffs last season. My answer was I felt like Hank Baskett's jock strap. Anyway, Mebane is 6'1, 311 pounds. Last year was a down year for him, but Mebane can have a 50 tackle, five sack season (as he did in 2009). According to Pro Football Focus, Mebane has consistently ranked as one of the top DTs in football the last three years.
Trevor Pryce, DT
He's 36-years-old, but he can still play. According to PFF, he averaged a QB pressure on 12.4% of all pass rushes. Larry Coyer made Pryce a star when he coached him at Denver in the early-2000s. It might make sense to bring the old horse to Indy for one more rodeo.
Quintin Mikell, SS
We wrote about him last week. If the Colts sign him, they instantly become THE team to beat in the AFC. He does everything Bob Sanders did, but doesn't get hurt doing it. He's missed only one start in three years. Some people are worried about his age. Folks, the Colts have a three year window, at best. Age is pretty irrelevant at this point. Our QB is 35. It's Super Bowl or bust these days.
Danieal Manning, SS
He was a very sturdy and dependable safety for the Bears for years. He knows the Tampa-2 system well, and he's tough. He started all 18 games for the Bears last year racking up 72 tackles and one pick with seven passes defended (which is good for a safety). He's also a heckuva kick returner.
Steve Smith, WR
Yes, THAT Steve Smith.
I know what I wrote earlier, but why not add him here? His career in Carolina is kaput. He's 32-years-old and coming off a terrible season shortened by injury. Smith hasn't been a truly dominate player since 2007, but part of that has to do with who was throwing him the football.
According to PFF, he played nearly as much in the slot (258 snaps) as out wide (268 snaps). Advanced Stats has Colts slot receiver Austin Collie with the highest catch success rate in football (70%). But, Collie is coming off a season with three concussions. Whether we want to admit it or not, Collie's health can't be trusted. One hit, and his career could be over. Smith often cites former Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison as his inspiration. Smith has made a boatload of money, and his splash reel is Hall of Fame worthy. The only thing he lacks in a championship. You think he wouldn't torch a room full of puppies with a flame thrower just to get the chance to catch passes from Peyton Manning?
So, those are my dream free agents. Which would you prefer Indy to sign?