With the draft finished, the NFL offseason (frequently defined by teams releasing and acquiring players, coaches, front offices people, etc.) comes to an end. For the most part, the players the Colts hold the rights to now are the ones who will show up and play in the first preseason game in August. Thus, we take this time to evaluate and examine the moves made by Jim Irsay and his first year general manager, Ryan Grigson. This series will breakdown the player loses, the free agent signings, the draft, and the undrafted rookie signings.
We started out with who the Colts lost. Here, we talk free agent acquisitions...
With eight offensive starters gone, no quarterbacks, and a total and complete lack of depth on defense, the Colts did what they never do at the start of the March free agency period: They signed players!
Additions included DE Cory Redding, SS Tom Zbikowski, WR Donnie Avery, NT Brandon McKinney, OG Mike McGlynn, C Samson Satele, and QB Drew Stanton. They also traded a 2012 6th round pick in to the Eagles (the former employers for current Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson) for RT Winston Justice.
All the signings were low cost and low risk. Each player filled a need, and each player provided an upgrade (or, at the very least, a solid comparison) to the person they were brought in to replace.
- Since the Colts are switching this offseason from a 4-3 Tampa 2 base defense to a 3-4, Redding and McKinney essentially replace Antonio Johnson and Fili Moala as the starting DTs. Redding is a five technique defensive end while KcKinney is a nose tackle. They both come from Baltimore, where current Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was once a defensive coordinator and, before that, the secondary coach. They are veterans who will help Pagano install his new 3-4 defense in Indianapolis, and ease some of the younger players into their new roles. Advantage: Redding and McKinney
- Tom Zbikowski replaces Melvin Bullitt. Like Redding and McKinney, Zbikowski comes from Baltimore and has strong ties to Pagano. Unlike Melvin Bullitt, Zbikowski isn't injury prone. Advantage: Tommy Z
- Donnie Avery effectively replaces Pierre Garcon. Both are speedsters, and both have issues consistently catching the football. Avery's '08 and '09 numbers are comparable to the ones Garcon put up in '09 and '10. Avery did not play in the NFL in 2010, and last year with the Titans played in just three games. Advantage: Garcon, but not by much
- Mike McGlynn replaces Mike Pollak. They could put a helmet on a cow it would block better than Pollak. Advantage: McGlynn
- Samson Satele replaces Jeff Saturday. Satele is a very good center, and a much better run blocker than Saturday. Saturday gets the overall nod because he is a borderline Hall of Famer who, at 36, is still playing at a high level. Still, it's not like the club lost Saturday and replaced him with lunch meat. Satele is well-respected in the trenches, and is younger. Advantage: Saturday, but not by as big a margin as you'd think
- Drew Stanton replaces Curtis Painter. Advantage: Do I seriously need to tell you who is better?
It's also worth mentioning that the Colts re-signed WR Reggie Wayne and DE-OLB Robert Mathis. Both were free agents going into this offseason, and both will be strong, veteran leaders for what is sure to be a very young, very inexperienced Colts squad.
Brad's final take:
Ryan Grigson was brilliant in free agency, getting low cost talent from the Ravens and Eagles organizations, mostly. The former Ravens players will aid Chuck Pagano in installing his new defense, while the rest fill holes and needs across the entire roster. The only criticism one could levy against the front office is their inability to sign a veteran corner. The corners on this Colts defense are awful, and their transition from a zone coverage scheme to one that requires much more man-to-man could be brutal. Despite that though, the free agents added provide significant upgrades to the players they are replacing, especially along the offensive line, which is much more talented now.