Editor's Note: This is a great write-up with a look at both Free Agents and a Mock Draft, nicely laid out with tons of information. -Matt
Now that the offseason has officially begun, its time to start looking at what our Colts team could look like next year. A few people have already posted mock drafts, or listed some free agents we should sign, but I haven't seen it all put together yet in a full mock offseason with cap dollars taken into account. So here goes:
Some facts/assumptions to get us all on the same page:
1. Assume we will spend $40M in cap space. I've seen a few different sources on how much cap space we have - it generally ranges from $43M to $50M. When I do the math with the data on Spotrac, I calculate that we have $55M in cap room (assuming no dead money). But either way, let's just say we'll spend $40M.
2. We have 32 players under contract for 2013, so we need to sign/draft 21 new players.
3. We have 5 draft picks (R1, 3, 4, 6, 7) to start with. I'll assume we get a R5 comp pick for Garcon and/or Saturday. We signed a lot of free agents so I doubt we get more than 1 comp pick.
4. Positions to upgrade: OT, OG, OG, WR, NT, DE, OLB, ILB, CB, CB, SS (11 positions). I think in rough order of importance, these can be prioritized as follows: 1. Oline, 2. Pass rush, 3. Secondary, 4. WR, 5. Run D (ILB, NT)
5. I did not take potential cap casualties into account. I could see two guys getting cut for savings - Bethea and Vinatierri. Both are in the final year of their deal, and AV would save $2M in cap space while Bethea would save $4.5M. I would like to see both players cut, even though I've always liked both. Just don't think they are worth the money anymore. But, for this exercise, I assume we keep em. Besides, having that $6M come off the books next offseason will be good since we have to resign Vontae anyway...
Colts free agents to resign:
The Colts don't have any impact free agents to resign, so for all these guys I'd only sign them at the right price. That being said, here's who I would keep and their estimated cost:
- Winston Justice: $1M/year - I think Justice would be an ideal 3rd tackle and primary backup
- Pat McAfee: $2M/year - Good punter, worth resigning if price is right. Otherwise we could save money here and burn our R6/7 pick on a punter.
- Darius Butler: $1M/year - showed enough to get another look as our 3rd or 4th CB
- Drew Stanton: $1M/year - solid enough for a backup QB. If not him, sign another vet for $1M or let Harnish have the job for cheaper.
--> Summary: Total cost: $5M, Cap remaining: $35M, Roster spots remaining: 17
Free agents to target:
I think we absolutely have to target Oline on day 1 of free agency. There are only two good OG's available (Moore, Levitre), so that should be Grigs 1st call. 2nd call should go to his OT of choice, and there are many. Then he can move on to the other positions of need:
- Andy Levitre: $6M/year - He should be our #1 target in FA. Good guard who has flown under the radar and hopefully won't break the bank like Nicks did. Other options: Brandon Moore
- Sebastian Vollmer: $6M/year - Been a very good RT the last few years, and would hurt Pats. Other options: Albert, Smith, Loadholt, Long (if stock drops) - lots of good OT's this year in FA
- Derek Cox: $5M/year - Solid starting CB, good at press coverage. Will fit nicely with Vontae. Other options: DRC, Grimes, Porter, Smith, Talib - lots of solid CB's available, must sign one
- Shaun Phillips: $5M/year - been a good OLB for the Chargers for years. Speed rusher who had 9.5 sacks last year at 31 yrs old. Should be solid for a couple more years, and would be a big upgrade over Freeney. Other options: Umenyiora, Kruger
- Israel Idonije: $3.5M/year - Solid vet who has been starting at DE for the Bears for years. Big enough to play DE in a 3-4, similar to a JJ Watt role where he can rush from the inside on passing downs (7.5 sacks last year). Other options: Michael Johnson, Henry Melton
- Minimum salary roster fillers - 5 @ $500K = $2.5M
--> Summary: Total cost: $30M, Cap remaining: $5M, Roster spots remaining: 6
Hopefully we go into draft with at least Oline already improved. Things will def change after the draft testing begins (combine, etc), so this will be fluid over the next few months. In general I believe in getting sure fire impact players, instead of drafting just potential, and preferably impact players to the pass game. Hence, I think the safest route is to go WR in R1 since there will be lots of good WR's available in late R1, but only "potential" pass rushers. It would be best if we could trade down, get an extra R3 pick, and take whichever WR slips to us, but I'll assume we pick at #24 for now. Here's my take on how things could shake out as of today:
R1: WR Keenan Allen - top 3 WR in college football this year. Runs great routes, has great hands, and can win jump balls. Low risk pick and we can have Reggie mentor him. Would set up offense to be great for 10 years with 2012 rookie class. Other options: Patterson, Woods, Hopkins, Williams, Hunter
R3: SS TJ McDonald - been a very good safety for USC for the last 2 years. Is a big hitter in the run game with speed to cover in the pass game, would start day 1 over Zibs. Other options: Rambo, Lester
R4: OLB Trevardo Williams - undersized pass rusher (6'2" 230 lbs), but very productive. Had 24 sacks the last 2 seasons for Uconn. Reminds me of Robert Mathis, who will be his mentor. Other options: Travis Long
R5C: OG Braden Hansen - solid OG prospect who played well at BYU. He could compete for Reitz for the last starting spot along the Oline, along with Ijalana if healthy
R6: LB Zaviar Gooden - undersized ILB (230 lbs) and former safety. I like him cause he can cover on 3rd downs, which is all we'll ask him to do.
--> Summary: Total cost: $5M, Cap remaining: $0M, Roster spots remaining: 0
Offense: QB: Luck, Stanton; RB: Ballard, Brown, Carter; WR: Wayne, Allen, Hilton, Brazill; TE: Fleener, Allen; Oline: Costanzo, Reitz (or Hansen), Satele, Levitre, Vollmer (Justice 3rd swing tackle, McGlynn swing OG/OC)
Defense: DE: Idonije, Redding; NT: Chapman, McKinnie; OLB: Phillips, Mathis, Williams, Hughes(?); ILB: Angerer, Freeman, Gooden, CB: Davis, Cox, Jenkins, Butler, S: Bethea, McDonald, Lefeged
Well that's it. I think with this offseason, which all could realistically happen, we would be a top tier team in the AFC and just one more draft from super bowl contenders. On offense, we'd have a very solid Oline, hopefully leading to a solid run game, and with the weapons at WR and TE I think the pass game would be top 5 for many years. On defense, our pass rush would be much improved, with 3 legit OLB's to rush the QB along with Idonije on the inside in the JJ Watt role. Our secondary would also be much improved. The lone weakness in this mock offseason would be no real upgrade at NT or ILB. But I think our ILB's are good enough to win with already. And I'm hoping Chapman can be an upgrade at NT.
What does everyone think? Any changes you would recommend?