Granted, a lot can change between now and next spring, but since most of us accept that rebuilding is most likely going to involve bringing in some solid Free Agents next year, we might as well start looking at who could be available and where the depth/talent could be. This could affect our draft plan this year, as depth at one position in next year's FA class would give us a better chance of filling the need long term in that method rather than the draft.
We hopefully won't need to make waves in the QB market next year. Numerous veterans like Anderson, Beck, Campbell, Gradkowski, Grossman and McCown are available if for some reason we lose faith in Stanton, but no need to detail much here.
Again, doubtful we make big waves in this position unless Carter/Brown prove to be ineffective under the new scheme. Normally, rookie RBs can produce immediately, so this is a position we should be willing to wait and draft higher in 2014 or beyond. Still, a few studs and veterans available.
Maurice Jones-Drew - (unlikely to want to sign with the Colts)
Fred Jackson - (Bills want to extend)
Reggie Bush - (Probably looking for a big payday if 2012 is as good as 2011 for him)
Peyton Hillis - (Reportedly turned down a 5-year 25M offer from the Browns, so he's looking to make waves and hit a big payday with KC this year, but if he sits behind Charles all year expect him to be a value pickup)
Kevin Smith - (Wants to stay a Lion, but behind Best/Leshoure if both of them can stay healthy and out of jail)
Michael Turner - (Getting a huge amount of carries the past few years has taken its toll, but Falcons want to phase in Jacquizz Rodgers so he may be available)
Danny Woodhead - (More of situational back, but Arians has used backs like Woodhead in the past for various roles)
Wayne almost assuredly will be retiring in 3 years, Collie is permanently a WR2, and no one on the roster can turn into a WR1. We will need to draft a solid WR sometimes in the next few years, but we can at least provide depth if needed through FA.
Victor Cruz - (If we wanted to target a top WR, this would be it. He would still be very young, a must for wanting to be a Super Bowl contender for 5+ years, and the Giants haven't started extension talk with him because they already have contract issues with other players.)
Greg Jennings - (Packers reportedly working to lock up Jennings in the future, so doubtful he hits the market)
Steve Smith [CAR] - (Doubtful he'll leave the Panthers after so many years, and also doubtful the Colts want to risk spending on an aging WR at this point)
Deion Branch - (wants to retire a Patriot, so no go here)
Malcom Floyd - (a solid veteran, but age means that he probably won't be around when we start making Super Bowl runs)
Johnny Knox - (If the Bears do draft an early WR, expect the combination of the new WR and Brandon Marshall to mean that Knox probably will hit FA next year. A young-enough playmaker to potentially make a value target)
Steve Smith [STL] - (Potentially could still have some gas in the tank, had a rough situation in Philly and could be in a confusing situation with the Rams, so the potential for value may be here)
More importantly than anything else, we don't know this front office's opinion on the tight end position. Are they looking for a playmaker like Clark was, a more traditional TE like Heath Miller was for Arians in Pittsburgh, or do they want to mine for the next Gronk in the draft? In any case, next years FA field for TEs is abysmal, further helping the case of those who are clamoring for Coby Fleener to be drafted this year.
Jason Witten - (Probably too old at this point, but TEs can play for a long time and he hasn't slowed down yet)
Tony Gonzalez - (More likely to retire than sign anywhere new next year)
Jake Ballard - (Young, and fits the traditional TE mold well. Giants really like him though, so don't be surprised if his contract is extended this year)
Castonzo has us set for years if his potential is believed, but we probably need an upgrade to the other side of the bookshelf at some point. There is definitely some potential here for a big move.
Jake Long - (Dolphins want to extend his contract, but he wants huge bucks. Colts may have the ability to actually sign him to protect Luck through the early years, but it is risky business)
Jermon Bushrod - (Currently Brees' protector, he's been solid for 5 year career, and he should still be young enough to be a long-term solution)
Matt Light - (will retire before joining another team)
Lydon Murtha - (was trending up before a foot injury, a young guy that can play anywhere on the line)
Pretty mediocre OG class next year in FA, nothing like this year. Combined with the deep OG draft class of 2012, don't be surprised to see a guard picked in the first 5 rounds this year.
Leroy Harris - (Titans RG now that they brought in Hutchinson, Harris is still young and has proven to be a great run-blocker and solid pass protector)
Geoffrey Schwartz - (a guy I wish the Colts would have tried to sign this year, he'll potentially be available again next year)
Brian Waters - (Another Patriot likely to retire next year, going to be rough for their O-line soon)
Super-thin here, so hopefully our new signings turn up something.
Jon Dorenbos - (A Philly Pro Bowl lineman, so not out of the question that Grigson would try to get him over here for a few years. Still, age means you most likely won't be enjoying a Dorenbos special at Penn Station.)
Like QBs, teams tend to hold onto their pass rushers and not let them go, so don't expect to get great DEs without paying through the nose or drafting them.
Michael Bennett - (Tampa Bay reportedly wants to keep him for a long time, so unlikely to make it to FA)
Osi Umenyiora - (Doubtful he makes it to free agency, Giants love him)
Jason Jones - (has some upside and can fit into multiple techniques during the transition)
Mathias Kiwanuka - (hometown boy who was key to the Giants last year, big time run stuffer)
Phillip Merling - (considered somewhat of a bust in Miami, he is a low-risk player that would be likely to be signed by this front office)
NT [Note, I am not looking at the 4-3 DT class next year, as I am assuming we are continuing to build towards the 3-4]:
I am all in on spending a first round pick in the next 3 years on this position. Great NTs are VERY few and far between, but can make all the difference in the world.
Casy Hampton - (Old and not likely to move away from the Steelers)
Richard Seymour - (Also old, and would require huge bucks to acquire)
Isaac Sopoaga - (Not a hoss, and has had injury concerns. Personally, I feel that NT should be addressed through the draft as your NT is all but the quarterback of the 3-4 in terms of importance)
OLB and RB are spots that are mostly dictated by instinct and athleticism, so draft picks from those positions typically produce early in their career. The Colts will most likely need somebody here, but the need isn't urgent as a rookie in 3-4 years can most likely fill this role.
Scott Fujita - (Getting up there in age, no better than what we have)
Daryl Smith - (monster against the run game, but Jacksonville will keep him there)
Thomas Howard - (Still has good football ahead of him, but probably not enough to justify a pickup from the Colts)
Shaun Phillips - (See above)
Scott Shanle - (See a trend...)
Some big names and a big dropoff after that. Most here were happy with Angerer last year, and we'll see if our new scheme requires us to bring in more ILBs or not.
Jovan Belcher - (has been a stud for the Chiefs in their 3-4, and he's still young and hungry)
Brian Urlacher - (I guess if Peyton can leave Indy, Urlacher could leave Chicago, but it is unlikely)
Patrick Willis - (will command huge money, but probably worth whatever figure it is due to age and production. Next year's Mario Williams potentially)
Erin Henderson - (Vikings most likely will keep him if he performs similarly to last year)
It is so hard to find good cover corners in the league, which is why you see so many drafted each year, with everyone hoping to strike gold. Expect the Colts to do the same even if they do target one of these guys.
Darrelle Revis - (Colts would have the room is Revis wanted to move. Talk about an upgrade for the future)
Ronde Barber - (will retire a Buc)
Charles Woodson - (Nearing the end of his career, unlikely to move away from Green Bay now)
Tracy Porter - (Had a down year last year, but a rebound this year with the Broncos would make him highly coveted)
Jabari Greer - (getting up there in age, but still has the skills to cover in man)
Cedric Griffin - (Looking to get paid, and has been a successful man cover corner in the past)
Quentin Jammer - (Old and probably not leaving SD)
A.J. Jefferson - (terrible first half last year, great second half, so a man to watch in the coming year)
Tom Z probably has us covered for the next few years, as I expect he was brought in to "set the tone" for our change in attitude.
Yeremiah Bell - (has a clause currently that means he may not be available next offseason)
Courtney Greene - (Injury concern, but has the talent to excel)
Bethea was one of the bright spots on D last year, if he continues to shine in the new scheme I see little reason to search hard elsewhere.
Ed Reed - (says "Baltimore is home but football is business". Could potentially follow a coach he loves if the money is right. Not that the Colts want to spend on an older FS, even a legendary one)
Chris Crocker - (age is a factor, but has been a strong performer for a long time)
Brodney Pool - (Looking for a rebound year in Dallas, probably getting a bit long in the tooth for the Colts)
Kerry Rhodes - (Injury limited him last year, but has been a constant producer for his 7 year career)
I'm sure I missed a couple players, and probably incorrectly categorized a few too, but the comments section will quickly remedy that. Things also are completely subject to change as contract extensions can be signed, extension negotiations can break down, and key players can become cap casualties at the end of next season. The big takeaway at this point is that RB, WR, and CB all appear to have both great talent and great depth to them next year. The Colts are currently projected to have about 60M in cap space next year, so it wouldn't be surprising at all to see them kick the tires on some big name free agents for the first time in a long time.
The other takeaway is that, while the Colts need new talent at all positions they will have to draft C, NT, and TE if they wish to find a long-term solution for those positions in the next few years. Just another reason that Coby Fleener at 34 this year makes so much sense if he is there, as the NT position has a few potential players in later rounds but will probably need to be addressed long term in the 2013 draft, and most of us have some degree of faith in Grigson's ability to judge linemen so I imagine he has a better idea than most about who the Colts need to target at that position.
Interesting times to be a Colts fan for sure. As soon as next season ends, I expect we'll have scores of armchair GMs coming in to give further analysis of free agent targets for the Colts. Having the money, the need, and a willing front office means that the Colts may continue to steal headlines in March next year too.