The Houston Texans added cornerback Jonathan Joseph and safety Danieal Manning to their roster yesterday. The New England Patriots traded for Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocino. The New York Jets locked up Santonio Holmes and are very much in the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes, hoping to pair him with all-world corner Darrelle Revis. The Eagles signed Jason Babin and traded back-up quarterback Kevin Kolb for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second round pick. The Jaguars linked former-Colts linebacker Clint Session, linebacker , and are on the verge of signing safety Dawan Landry.
These last few days have been a whirlwind of activity. Teams that were already good have gotten better, and teams on the cusp of 'good' have now added players that will likely improve their 2011 records.
And all while this has gone on, the Colts front office has stood by and done nothing, seemingly shackled by the inability to sign four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning to a new contract.
The anger and frustration in Jim Irsay's tone, both in phone conversations and on Twitter, is extremely evident. It's now Friday, a full four days after the lockout ended. Yet, Peyton Manning still is not signed. Rival teams has dramatically improved their rosters, making a 2011 Super Bowl in Indianapolis featuring the Colts nothing more than a pipe dream for even the most deluded and ridiculously rabid of Colts fans.
On Twitter last night, I was chatting with former-Stampede Blue writer and current associate editor of Bleacher Report's football coverage, Colin McCollough. Based on our talks, I think both of us are in agreement on this point: The longer Peyton Manning goes unsigned, the more incompetent and utterly clueless the Colts front office appears not just to puzzled fans, but to people around the National Football League.
Jim Irsay has repeatedly gone on Twitter and stated that the team is held down by the limits of the cap. He told reporters Tuesday that the number the absolutely cannot go above for Manning is $20 million. As Bob Kravitz wrote on Wednesday, we have the number. We have the cash. The new deal will supposedly make Peyton the highest paid player in the NFL.
What. Is. The. F*cking. Holdup?
I'm sure Jim Irsay is wondering this as well as he sees Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick infuse their 14-2 roster with even more talent while Chris Polian hasn't even bothered to sign Indianapolis' players drafted this year.
Think about this for a second: Teams like Detroit Lions have already signed all of their draft picks. Training camp opens for the Colts this Sunday, and they don't have a single drafted player under contract. Ryan Diem and Kelvin Hayden, two players whose contracts are doing more to cripple the Colts cap situation than anything Peyton Manning is asking for, are still listed on the roster despite Thursday being the day teams could begin trimming. We've seen no reports of contract re-negotiations for Hayden, and there is simply no logical reason on God's green earth to keep Diem on the roster when everyone and their grandmother knows he's done.
The begs the question: WTF is Chris Polian doing?
We know from reliable sources that the Colts tried to sign Eric Weddle. They failed. Now, call me silly, but how can a team that is supposedly crippled by the cap be seriously negotiating for one of the premiere free agents? It doesn't take a detective to see that once Weddle was no longer available, the Colts went and signed their back-up option: Melvin Bullitt and his metal-infused shoulder.
Bill Polian, who is now more interested in local celebrity golf tournaments than football operations, told reporters yesterday that Chris has been working on a lot of free agent work over the last few days. The result to show for this 'work' are Bullitt re-signed and the inking of a 37-year-old kicker, Adam Vinaiteri.
All do respect, but what 'work' is that?
Now, I'm fully aware of the B.S. the Colts like to spin about free agency. That it doesn't build great teams. That overpaying for free agents is not financially sound. Blah, blah, blah...
I get the idea that spending millions on a free agent Albert Hayensworth is cap suicide, as the Redskins did to themselves two years ago. And, obviously, free agency alone is not the best way to build your team. But taking a 'free agency is SATAN!' approach to this or any roster is not sound policy, especially during this very dynamic period where the competitive balance of the NFL has been flipped, so-to-speak.
There is nothing 'wrong' or 'unsound' about signing free agents to augment a flawed roster like the 2011 Indianapolis Colts, especially when the window for the franchise is rapidly closing.
Note that several Colts players took notice of the Patriots trading essentially nothing to get Haynesworth. His salary is not guaranteed for 2011, and his cap hit is somewhere in the $5 mill range. It was a no risk, high reward move. And for those deluded enough to think the Colts are 'too good' for the malcontent Haynesworth, remember that Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were trying to recruit Haynesworth to Indianapolis two years ago.
I'm fairly certain players like Freeney and Mathis are seeing all these other teams making these moves, and they are wondering the same thing we are:
Why isn't Peyton signed?
Why aren't we making moves?
Why aren't we improving this team?
The longer these questions linger, the longer Peyton goes unsigned and the Colts sit idle, the louder the whispers will grow that Chris Polian, quite simply, doesn't know what he's doing. It doesn't matter if that criticism is fair or not. Perception is everything in this business, and the fact that it is taking this long to get this deal is not a good thing for Chris Polian's reputation. People who cover the league are already asking me if this guy is as incompetent as he seems (as if I know or not; I've never met him).
Apologies for using this tired phrase, but the silence and inactivity from West 56th Street is deafening. It does not paint this new front office in an positive light. In typical Colts fashion, they will claim that free agency isn't their thing. They'll pretend that no one is whispering about them, or if they are then they don't care. They might even convince themselves that their course of action this year does indeed make them contenders.
But, as we have seen reportedly over the years, reality and the Colts front office often don't see eye-to-eye.
It will be interesting to see how the team performs in 2011. As it is now, we likely will see a repeat of 2010, with an older and injured Peyton Manning having to shoulder the load for a flawed roster crafted under the watch of Chris Polian and his father. And as we watch runningbacks blast through Indy's non-existent defensive line, I personally think the home crowd's reaction on Sundays will be a bit more hostile towards the home team than in recent years.
This off-season was a once-in-a-lifetime chance this off-season to do something special. Instead, we're left with questions and whispers as to whether or not the people in charge know what they're doing.
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