With the horrendous lockout near its end, the doors of free agency are about to open. Although the Colts typically don't invest in free agents, they occasionally do sign players for depth and with all the injuries that devastated the Colts last season, no one (maybe besides the Packers) can tell you how important depth is. In addition, with the piles of undrafted, talented players waiting in free agency, you can expect some new players to make their way onto the 53 man roster.
However, with the addition of some key players in the draft, some expensive veterans will be expendable.
More after the jump..
In the words of Dane Cook, "these are 3 things all of us share. We all lie, we all cry, and we all take painful shits". One thing he missed out was that we all know that Peyton Manning will be on the Colts next season. He will most likely be signed to a 3 to 6 year deal and will be in white and blue until he retires. He was also placed on the franchise tag, which means he is being paid over 22 million this season until he is signed to a new deal. Hopefully the FO signs Manning quickly to a 18 million per season deal which should help clear the cap room a little (18 million a season helps clear cap room?). Curtis Painter, like Jim Sorgi before him, knows far too much about the Colts offense to be let go. Also Manning's replacement will most likely be drafted next year so might as well keep Painter for one last season.
Joseph Addai is a vital part of this offense that cannot be let go. He was a versatile back that could slither through non-existing creases in the offensive line and get four yards a carry. With the addition of more talented Offensive Lineman, expect Addai's production to rise. Donald Brown still has 2 years on his contract, but this year could be the make it or break it year. Also, with the addition of more talented lineman, expect his production to rise as well. Delone Carter will most likely be our goal-line back, replacing the inconsistent Javarris James. Dominic Rhodes will most likely provide a veteran presence as well as return kicks.
Wide Receiver: (5)
This is one of the most talented receiver core in the entire NFL. Reggie Wayne is a top 5 receiver, Garcon is in his prime, and is steadily developing into a premier second receiver, Austin Collie is one of, if not the, most reliable slot receivers in the NFL, whilst Anthony Gonzalez and Blair White could most likely start for half the teams in the NFL. Also Bill Polian has gone on record saying that White will be our punt returner. lthough 3 of the players (Wayne, Garcon, Gonzalez) are on their final year of their contract, it is most likely that Wayne will receive a franchise tag or a short deal to ensure they get maximum production out of the years he has left. Also Garcon will most likely be given a 2-4 year deal, because of his upside and the cheapness of his contract..
Tight End: (4)
Dallas Clark is our pro bowl tight end, and one of the key players on this offense who can stretch zones and affect the game plan. While Jacob Tamme is an excellent special team player as well as a great back up who can most likely start for half the teams in the NFL. Brody Elridge is the 'full back' of our offense and specializes in blocking. Charlie Gantt, an undrafted free agent from Michigan, was one of the top blockers in tihs year's draft class and can also catch. Anything to get rid of Robinson right?
Offensive Line: (10)
Left Tackle - Anthony Costanzo, Jeff Linkenbach
Center - Jeff Saturday, Kristofer O'Dowd (signed)
Right Guard - Mike Pollak, Kyle Devan (re-signed)
Right Tackle - Ben Ijalana, Jamie Thomas
Anthony Costanzo was considered the most pro-ready tackle in this years draft, and will most likely start the Left Tackle position. While Jeff Linkenbach showed potential in the limited time he played. Charlie Johnson, a natural guard, will most likely benefit from a change to his natural position and Jamey Richard is good depth. Saturday is a potential hall of famer but will need to be replaced next season because he is on his last year of contract and nearing retirement age, and O'Dowd was considered one of the top centers in the country until a bad season and combine performance and could eventually live up to his previous season hype. Mike Pollak, who was considered to be a colossal bust, was the most consistent offensive lineman in the last 4 games of the last season, and seems to be living up to his draft status while Kyle Devan could provide another option if Pollak fails to meet expectations. Ijalana was considered to be the top guard of this years draft but fell due to a sports hernia injury, and Jamie Thomas seems to be a Polian favorite.
Defensive End: (4)
Freeney and Mathis are considered to be the best pass-rushing duo in the NFL. Running the Tampa 2 scheme, defense end is considered to be one of the most important positions on defense. Jerry Hughes is last years 1st round pick, and has already earned the "bust" title from some, but unlike people might want to believe, he has shown potential in the few games he has played, although he didn't meet the production expected of him. John Chicks is the CFL's DPOY and will provide addition depth to a stacked defensive end position.
Released: Keyunta Dawson
Defensive Tackle: (5)
Antonio Johnson, Ian Williams (signed)
Antonio Johnson's reinsertion into the starting lineup helped turn the Colts' run defense shut down some of the premier running backs in the league. He is stout against the run, but with virtually no pass-rushing ability. However, he is the best we can get at this point. Ian Williams is an undrafted free agent that is a local product, and is also stout against the run. Fili Moala had a good sophmore year and should only improve over time, while newly drafted Drake Nevis gives us another pass rushing option at DT to pair with Eric Foster.
Strong - Kavelle Connor, Phillip Wheeler
Clint Session, although not very good at play recognition, is the hard-hitting, high energy player that needs to step up due to the release of Bob Sanders. Tyjuan Hagler is easily one of the team's best special teamer, and is a beast in coverage. Gary Brackett, our defensive team captain, seemingly lost a step last season but was still effective. Bracket is good in coverage and a fundamental tackler that will play for the Colts until he retires. Pat Angerer always seems to be around the ball, and always makes the tackle, but due to his small body frame, may get pushed for extra yardage. He is a liabilty in coverage however, and needs one more season under Bracketts wing to develop. Kavelle Connor emerged last year as one of the top young linebackers, merely being drafted in the seventh round, he provides the Colts with the hard hitting, tackling machine they desperately need. Phillip Wheeler, who is another reminder of the third round curse, is another good special teamer and is on his rookie contract, so he won't be released.
Hayden, although commanding a big contract, is a key player for the Colts. He may not be a shutdown corner but he is solid in run support, decent enough against man coverage and a beast in zone coverage. He will not be cut because no one can replace him, yet. Jerraud Powers (if it means anything, Jerraud Powers in his 3rd year of franchise mode in Madden 10, has 99 Man coverage rating and 98 zone coverage rating) is one of the most underrated corners in the NFL, partly because hes always injured. However him, Justin Tryon, and hopefully Kevin Thomas, are the solid man corners that this team needs to play in Layer Coyer's new sceme. Jacob Lacey had a breakout rookie year, but a dissapointing sophmore year. However, he deserves another season to prove his worth.
Quinton Mikell (signed), Melvin Bullit (re-signed), Chip Vaughn (re-signed)
Bethea, is the glue that kept this secondary together last season, and he provides the Colts with good coverage skills as well as the ability to stop the run. Aaron Francisco, the whipping boy of the 2010 season, is better in coverage then most people believe and should be re-signed for special teams play and depth. The Iggles and the Colts' defensive backs share the skill traits needed to play in either system. I believe BBS (don't quote me on this) said that, and thats why players like Marlin Jackson joined the Eagles in the first day of free agency. Mikell is good against the run, the pass and most importantly is durable. Melvin Bullit should be signed for 2-3 years to serve as a reliable backup (and starter in case of injury) as well as be the special teams captain. Chip Vaughn is rather unknown, but has the pure physical ability to be a starting safety. By learning from 3 starting caliber safeties for a year or two, he should develop into a good safety, and in the meanwhile can play special teams.
Special Teams: (3)
Clutch Adam still has atleast 2 good years left but its time to start grooming a replacement. Pat McAfee's booming leg will most likely benefit from the new touchback rule, as well as the special teams in general. Justin Snow had been the Colt's longtime long-snapper and I don't see him leaving anytime soon.
Theres my attempt at a 53 man roster, and if I have enough time, I'll re-edit it to include a practice squad roster as well.
As always, go colts and a rec is always appreciated.