After a very impressive 2012-13 campaign by the Colts, it comes a time when a player’s contract eventually runs out. Some players are worthy of being brought back into the organization while others are better off leaving the franchise. I have compiled a list of Colts’ players no longer under contract and currently on the free agent radar. I have also decided to offer my opinion about players who could be possibly re-signed versus those who should be released.
UFA (Unrestricted Free Agents):
Donnie Avery WR
Darius Butler CB
Austin Collie WR
Moise Fokou ILB
Dwight Freeney OLB/DE
Tony Hills OT
Antonio Johnson DT
Winston Justice OT
Pat McAfee P
Fili Moala DE
Mewelde Moore RB
Jerraud Powers CB
Drew Stanton QB
Jamaal Westerman OLB/DE
Players who should be resigned:
Butler came to the team back in September after OTAs and preseason, he really didn’t have a chance to get a feel for the defensive scheme/philosophy. Butler was arguably the best CB on the team for the 2012-13 season; he was able to accumulate 4 INTs and a Fumble recovery. I think Butler should be brought back and let Chuck Pagano give him the proper coaching to become either a solid starter or make depth.
Fokou had a very impressive showing this season as a rotational ILB. He has good gap management but his coverage skills are a lot to be desired. I think he would make a great re-signing simply cause he makes excellent depth in the LB corps and provides decent coverage on special teams.
I was really impressed by the efforts of Justice at Right Tackle, when healthy; he was able to hold the edge in pass protection and has a strong POA (Point Of Attack) in run blocking. Justice was able to hold his own against elite and above average Defensive Ends. But after returning from reoccurring injuries, he became a bit inconsistent and struggled a bit. I think Justice would be a good depth OT and swing RT.
I was a bit hurt when he was released, he was very solid running the ball and proved to be a very competent kick returner even before his game changing Kickoff return against the Houston Texans in Week 17 of the 2012-13 season. Karim should be able to provide RB depth and become the primary KR specialist.
I think this was McAfee’s best year as a punter and can be one of the main reasons why the Colts special teams has drastically improved compared to previous seasons, right now I can’t think of a better punter in the AFC. McAfee has really improved in his "hang time" allowing the ST coverage units to quickly surround the returner and negate any efforts of a return.
Reitz has been extremely serviceable for the past two seasons. He isn’t an elite caliber starter or an above average Left Guard, but he flat out comes to play and easily makes snap adjustments during the game. The LG spot can easily be upgraded with a player better than Reitz but he will make excellent depth and can always be counted on in case injuries mount up.
Tevaseu has a pretty good motor and seems quite strong against the push, he can handle double teams well enough to let LBs slip in during a blitz and seemed to be the better run stopping Nose Tackle between him and Mookie Johnson. Tevaseu would make great depth at a position of need heading into next season.
Players who should be released ASAP:
Avery was fairly inconsistent all season and dropped catches that could have potentially won us a game or helps us down the stretch. I though Garcon had bad hands but Avery was clearly worst. I think every other WR currently on the team could make a better #2 WR than Avery. He should not be retained this upcoming offseason.
I really don’t have anything to say about Mookie that will make him seemed like he played badly, the guy was clearly out of place (4-3 DT playing 3-4 NT) and couldn’t handle double teams by even the most inconsistent O-Lineman we have faced. I think Mookie should either switch to 3-4 DE (which wouldn’t do much good) or find another franchise that can use him at his natural position. He’s a player the team doesn’t need right now.
For the third straight season, Linkenbach has been one of the most inconsistent and oft-beaten linemen on the team. When facing elite D-Lineman, he gets badly abused and causes great amounts of pressure on the QB. When playing Tackle, he loses the edge and the QB gets pressured while at Guard he gets pushed back which prevents the QB from stepping up and continuing the play. Despite his excellent bill of health, it doesn’t do him any good cause he isn’t a good football player.
I don’t even want to waste my time explaining why he should get cut; he was perhaps the most useless player on the team and never did any good for us whatsoever. The quicker he is released the better me and select Colts’ fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
This guy sucked even more the Linkenbach, really he did. He just a lazy linemen who easily gives up after being beaten, he showed no consistency to even bother being offered a new contract, we should let him walk and never look back.
Vaughn was pretty solid during the preseason and was proving that he belonged on the team. But once the regular season started, his talent dropped dramatically and he was often abused regardless if it was by an elite WR or a pedestrian one. I think we can move on from him and find a more suitable CB to replace him.
Players possibly on the fence:
Collie has a very good skill-set as a WR, he has great hands, runs good routes, and can easily read the defense from a receiver’s POV. But Collie has suffered multiple concussions in 2010 and now was placed on IR for the 2nd time in 4 seasons due to a knee injury. If Collie wants to continue his football career, than perhaps the Colts can sign him to a $500,000/year 3 or 4 year contract. Resigning Collie to a reasonable contract will make him a low risk/high reward player.
Edds was considered the best cover ILB on the roster heading into training camp last season, he suffered a season-ending ACL tear that could possibly jeopardize his standing with the team. In my opinion he doesn’t stand a chance with the current LB corps and the depth behind them, but his coverage skills can be an asset to him and the team going forward.
Freeney has played his entire career as a "weakside" DE; I wasn’t surprised that Freeney had a down year as an OLB. But now Freeney is on the wrong side of 30 and perhaps would demand a lucrative contract to remain a Colt. If we decided to re-sign Freeney, it should be a contract that respects the salary cap, I’m thinking perhaps a 3-year 4M/year contract. Moving him back to DE would be a great idea since he had trouble catching on at OLB.
At first he started off real slow by getting beat by opposing camp fodder WRs, after getting a good feel and some experience under his belt he came along way. Gordy has been decent on special teams as a gunner on the coverage unit and provides depth at the CB position, I wouldn’t trust him at #2 but he might just be a solid Dimeback or even a nickleback.
I really never seen much of the guy to make an informative judgement, I have no idea if he sucks, makes a decent starter, or can provide depth on the O-Line. I will have to wait until preseason to really pass any judgement on Tony Hills.
Moala was never solid as a 4-3 DT and was considered a bust by the majority of the Colts fanbase, after moving to 3-4 DE, he seemed pretty productive and was good at sealing the edge and might have found his calling in his new spot. Unless we can find another player much better than Moala, I think he can possibly be re-signed to another contract.
Powers has been placed on Injured Reserve 3 times out of 4 seasons. When Jerraud is healthy; he’s an overachieving nickleback playing #2 CB who has held his own against premier NFL WRs. Talent-wise, Powers would make very good depth at CB due to his experience but most injury-prone players are often shown the door once becoming a free agent. If we can sign him cheap, he becomes another low risk/high reward resigning.
As Andrew Luck’s backup, we hope that Stanton never sees the field unless we have a major blowout on our hands. But the 2011-12 NFL season has proved to us Colts fans that no matter whom your starting QB is; you must always have a very solid replacement on the depth chart. Stanton did a good job showed that he can actually play backup QB along with rookie QB Chandler Harnish.
Similar to fellow teammate Tony Hills, I didn’t get a good eye on Westerman to pass judgement on him. Perhaps he was just a fill-in guy who will be able to walk or is giving a second chance this off-season to showcase any talent he holds, right now the jury is out for him.