The Colts have roughly $41 million in cap space for 2013 and are likely to be significant players in veteran free agency. However, they have 15 unrestricted free agents of their own to deal with, and the question is who will get re-signed and who won't.
We Think They're Gone
Dwight Freeney, OLB-DE
Reason: Freeney cost roughly $19 million against last year's cap. He contributed just 5 sacks, and was next-to-useless as a rush linebacker. The Colts utilized him almost exclusively as a 4-3 defensive end. He doesn't suit Chuck Pagano's defense, and while he will likely get a deal at a substantially decreased salary than what he earned last year, Freeney simply does not produce what he should in a 3-4 defense, "hybrid" or otherwise.
Mewelde Moore, RB
Reason: People really seem to hate this guy because of that fumble on the goal line at Houston in December. Personally, I think he'd work great in the new offense that Pep Hamilton will bring to Indianapolis. However, he was clearly brought in because he's a Bruce Arians guy, having worked with Arians in Pittsburgh. With Arians gone, so to is Mewelde.
Jerraud Powers, CB
Reason: Injury-prone corner best suited as a nickel back. The Colts have plenty of nickel corners. They need a starter opposite Vontae Davis. Powers struggled covering man-to-man in 2012 prior to landing on IR for the third year in a row.
A.J. Edds, ILB
Reason: The Colts have more than enough talent at inside linebacker. He's also coming off a knee injury.
Fili Moala, DE-DT
Reason: Another bust from the Polian Era. Moala was a second round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. The best season in his career was in 2010 when he produced just 20 tackles, no sacks. He's a depth guy, and depth guys can be found in free agency or the draft.
Antonio Johnson, NT-DT
Reason: Mookie Johnson is one of my all-time underrated Colts players. He just battles, game to game. He is not a natural nose tackle, but, because of injuries to Brandon McKinney and Josh Chapman, he was forced to start 13 games there. His production wasn't pretty, but it wasn't terrible. While he's a trooper, he isn't a natural fit for this defense. McKinney and Chapman must return healthy. If they do, Mookie's roster spot can be filled by a younger, more natural NT.
Austin Collie, WR
Reason: He's had four concussions in two years. He's also coming off a knee injury. His career as a football player is likely finished.
We Think They'll Be Re-Signed
Pat McAfee, P
Reason: He should have gone to the Pro Bowl this season. His punt net was 40.3 and he dropped 26 inside the 20 in 2012. He is also an excellent kickoff specialist, allowing 40-year-old Adam Vinatieri to focus solely on field goals. Oh, and before you ask, no. McAfee cannot and should not be a field goal kicker as well as a punter. His leg would be dead after two years.
Darius Butler, CB
Reason: He won't demand much as his career seemed to be reborn in Indianapolis after he was jettisoned from New England and Carolina. He's a nickel corner with decent playmaking skills. Without him in 2012, the Colts simply do not make the playoffs.
Moise Fokou, ILB-OLB
Reason: He provides excellent linebacker depth as he can play both inside and outside backer positions. Pat Angerer's future with the Colts seems cloudy in that he could not get healthy in 2012, and when he did play he was a liability. Fokou can step in and play effectively in a pinch. In 16 games played in 2012, he had 43 tackles, 1 sack, and a forced fumble. That's excellent overall production from a reserve backer. Also, at 27, he's still got some years left in him.
Winston Justice, RT
Reason: While injury prone, Justice provides some stability at an area that will need a major overall. He was also one of the few offensive linemen for the Colts in 2012 who played well. Justice is a seasoned veteran, and young players seem to listen to him. Retaining him is critical in order to maintain some semblance of continuity.
On The Fence
Donnie Avery, WR
Reason: Avery had a career year in 2012, and some of his catches (like the 4th down catch-and-run to beat the Lions with no time left) were clutch. However, Avery dropped more passes than any other WR in the NFL in 2012. He's a big reason why Andrew Luck's completion percentage was 54%. He works best as a slot receiver, which is T.Y. Hilton's natural position. Hilton is faster and has better overall playmaking ability than Avery. Avery is nice to keep around if the Colts need depth. He is NOT a starting-caliber receiver.
Drew Stanton, QB
Reason: If the Jets had kept Stanton and not traded for Tebow, they may have made the playoffs in 2012. Stanton is a smart, competent quarterback who can make enough plays to help a talented team win games they should. He's an ideal back-up. However, Chandler Harnish was drafted for a reason, and if he is developing there is little need to re-sign Stanton. Also, if I'm Stanton, I'm looking to sign on to a place like Arizona or Jacksonville or anywhere else where I have a chance at starting.
Tony Hills, OG
Reason: Depth player that can be replaced with younger talent. If he's retained, cool. If not, no reason to freak out.
Jamaal Westerman, DE
Reason: See Tony Hills.
Restricted free agents not included in this write-up. You should assume they will be retained for 2013.