Something I should have addressed in my last article: it can be difficult when picking what defensive end and linebacker (mainly OLB) free agents the Colts should consider. I want to pick guys that are going to be interchangeable at those positions, because of how the 3-4 works. However, I also want to pick guys that have been playing at their respective positions for a while, and are reliable at said positions.
I've come to realize that you can't have the best of both worlds.
Anyways, let's talk linebackers.
The first thing I realized is the age of the current linebacker free agent market. It's up there. With the upcoming NFL Draft filled chalk full of young and hungry linebackers/defensive ends, that may be where the Colts want to focus most of their attention. Not to mention: a large majority of free agent linebackers have been free agent linebackers for more than a year, meaning they've been away from the game for a good long while.
However, there are a few free agent linebackers that are worth at least a thought or two.
I've had my eye on Houston Texans Outside Linebacker Connor Barwin ever since J.J. Watt turned into J.J. Watt. Barwin's numbers dropped significantly in 2012, however, I'd attribute that, once again, to the emergence of J.J. Watt. There are only so many sacks to go around, right?
Barwin's just 26 and in 2011, he had 11.5 sacks. Just 3 sacks in 2012 is a downgrade, however, it's easy to attribute that to Watt, because Barwin excelled in almost every other defensive category. He had 47 combined tackles, which was down just 3 form his 2011 total, 35 tackles, which is up from 2011 and he defended 5 passes, which is down 2 from last year.
Not to mention: Barwin made right around $500k in 2012. The Colts could pick him up for an incredibly reasonable price.
The only thing I'm slightly worried about is Barwin's lack of ability to stop the run. However, he isn't a downgrade from Freeney in that department. If the Colts want to find someone that is closer to the kind of player Freeney was, Barwin could be a great snag. Picking up a division rival's free agents is never a bad thing, either. I mean, unless they suck. Barwin definitely doesn't suck, though.
Another guy that caught my eye is Michael Boley of the New York Giants. Originally, I saw that he was 30 years old and made $4 million this past year, and I ruled him out. Then, I decided to do a little more research, and I'm glad I did. Boley had 92 tackles this past season, which is his third highest total ever, and that's without playing the final three games of the season. Not to mention: he had three interceptions after not having a single one since his days with the Falcons.
I can't see the Colts paying Boley as much as he's probably going to require, however, he could be successful in Indy.
I'm also hearing a lot of talk about Brian Urlacher, and his future with the Bears. As we all know Urlacher is getting up there in age, and the Bears are starting to get that itch when it comes time to think about the future.
Now, I'm about 97.3% sure the Bears are going to resign Urlacher. A player of his caliber will be able to produce despite his age, and he's played in Chicago his entire life. He's probably going to want to finish his career where he started.
However, you don't watch football if you don't see the words "Urlacher" and "free agent" without getting a liiiiiiitte excited.
Again I'll say, the Colts would probably be better off waiting until the draft to seriously consider picking up a linebacker, but I wouldn't mind seeing the few listed in blue and white next season.