Linebackers The Colts Should Target in Free Agency

Peyton Manning's new contract is a gift and gives the Colts a chance to make a move and address needs a several positions. After a slow start to free agency, it's imperative the Colts don't waste a chance to upgrade a roster with a few holes to fill. So far fans have been disappointed by the lack of impetus the Colts have shown in the first few days of free agency. 

Realistically we shouldn't have expected any different. The Colts rarely panic (Jim Cadwell might as evidence by that ridiculous called timeout against the Jets, but as an organization we don't). So far we have followed our traditional model of re-sigining key Colts first before looking beyond the herd.

Having retained most of our critical free agents aside from Charlie Johnson, it is now time for the Colts to saddle up and get more aggressive.

Here are a few possibilities at positions of greatest need.

Most pundits will say that the Colts weakest position is defensive tackle. I disagree. With a lineup of Antonio Johnson, Fili Moala (who should have a monster year) and Drake Nevis as well as the high energy utility player Eric Foster, the d-line is in decent shape. That is not to say that we don't need an upgrade, however linebacker should be our most pressing concern.

The loss of Session means the Colts are dangerously thin at linebacker. Brackett is one year older, Conner is still young and Angerer is good, but if he plays on the outside he will be out of position. Even with Wheeler and possibly Hagler the Colts still need to add a linebacker capable of starting on the outside. Although this is a position the Colts should have been much more aggressive in pursuing and thus missed out on a few big names, there are still couple of solid options:

Chris Chamberlain, formerly with St. Louis:

A unheralded player, a first reaction might be who? Is there no one better? Chamberlain might not be a household name, but the former St. Louis Ram is a glue player who could really help the Colts. Buried on the depth chart his first two years in the league, Chamberlain instead focused on special teams, leading the team in special teams tackles his first two years. Finally receiving more playing time last season, Chamberlain made the most of his opportunity posting 34 tackles in just 11 games. His 34 tackles were equal to his first two seasons combined and show he could be ready for a breakout year. Even if not, Chamberlain is the type of team-first player and special teams ace the Colts covet. 

Kirk Morrison, formerly with Jacksonville:

If the Jags want to steal our guy in Clint Session, the Colts should turn right around and go after Kirk Morrison. The guy is a tackling machine. At 29, he should still have several good years left, meaning that his career low 89 tackles is more likely an aberration than a serious concern (probably can be explained that he didn't fit with the Jags scheme). Still, the Colts would happily take a guy who has averaged 118 tackles during his six years in the league. Morrison may not bring the same intensity as Session, but his production is far superior. 

Ernie Sims, formerly with Detroit:

Sims is a guy who has never lived up to his high billing. Given that he is nonetheless a reliable outside linebacker maybe that's a good thing for the Colts as he should be easier to sign. Sims followed up monster rookie season in which he posted 125 tackles with an even better sophomore campaign. Since then, his production has declined. Believing a change of scenery would be help revitalize his career, Sims was acquired by the Eagles. Sims one year stint never produced the desired results as he was unable to find his niche in the Eagles blitz happy defense. Know at times for his physical (dirty) play, Sims would help replace the energy and intensity the linebacking corps lost with Session's departure. Unable to command nowhere near his 5-year, $15.735 million rookie contract, Sims may now fit the Colts price range. 

Rocky McIntosh, formerly with Washington: 

It is highly doubtful the Colts will be able to afford McIntosh, especially given he posted a career year last season and remembering the Redskins lavish spending habits. However, if the price is right the Colts should unleash Freeney and Mathis (football's version of the full court press) to help convince him to sign in Indy. In 15 starts last season McIntosh posted 110 tackles and two sacks. While McIntosh is better suited as an ILB, he played some weakside linebacker when the Redskins lined up in the 4-3. 

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