The 2013 NFL Free Agency is slowly approaching and will shortly be under way in just under 2 weeks. During the Bill Polian regime, Free Agency never was that much of a hot topic. The former Colts President and General Manager never dwelled into signing free agents unless it was building the roster by filling in vacant roster spots or getting replacements for guys going on Injured Reserve. The majority of the players signed by Polian were pretty much "castaway" type players that never served any purpose on the team they were being released by.
Since Ryan Grigson took over as Colts G.M., he has been quite active in getting key players to help build this team into the formidable franchise it once was. Grigson did the best he can with "house money" in the 2012 NFL season and Colts fans all over the globe praised his attempts at finding the best players suitable to play for this franchise. But now, the Colts reportedly have between $40 Million and $46 Million in cap space ($43 Million being the most accurate estimate) to bring in the best players available and try to fill as many holes the team has before the 2013 NFL Draft is underway. This may perhaps be the biggest Free Agency splash us Colts fans will ever witness take place. I know that Ryan Grigson will try to fill holes on both sides of the ball to the best of his ability and it will be a mixture of O-Lineman and defensive players.
What I want to know from the readers here at Stampede Blue is: What would be the best option Grigson should take at rebuilding the team if he could only fix one side of the ball ? Should he get the best Offensive Lineman hitting the market and build the defense from the draft or should he find numerous talented CBs, Safeties, and DEs available in the next 2 weeks and build a solid O-line through this year’s NFL Draft. I will began breaking down arguments regarding both sides of the ball.
Right now the Colts have an abysmal flawed O-Line, specifically the interior of it and a weak point on the right side. Our starting lineup was LT-Castonzo LG-Reitz C-Satale RG-McGlynn RT-Justice, While this had everyone thinking that it was a legit O-Line, it proved to not be the case. With injuries to Reitz and Justice at LG and RT, respectively, the O-Line slowly went from bad to worst as the season progressed. Rookie QB Andrew Luck displayed great athleticism by scrambling to avoid hits and sacks and running to make plays. Hopefully the weakest points in the O-line can be addressed on March 12, 2013. Lets take a good look at potential Colts O-Linemen.
Bears LG Chris Williams
Chargers RG Louis Vasquez
Vikings RG Geoff Schwartz
Bears RG Chilo Rachal
Lions RT Gosder Cherilus
Vikings RT Phil Loadholt
Bengals RT Andre Smith
Panthers RT Jeff Otah
Patriots RT Sebastian Vollmer
Texans RT Rashad Butler
Andre Smith and Sebastian Vollmer are big pipe dreams. I say this because the Cincinnati Bengals have the most amount of cap space of any team in the NFL this year with $55 Million and can actually afford to re-sign Smith and any other player they desire. The Bengals emergence as a playoff contender poses a big threat to the Free Agency market for the Colts. Sebastian Vollmer is a franchise RT and one of the best in the entire league. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will not let his franchise QB Tom Brady go without elite protection and will do whatever it takes to make sure Vollmer remains a Patriot.
The guys most likely to be signed by the Colts are RG Louis Vasquez, RT Gosder Cherilus, and perhaps LG Chris Williams. Vasquez now has connections to Indianapolis due to the recent hirings of Jimmy Raye III and Hal Hunter. Raye was the Director of Player Personnel in San Diego and most likely helped provide insight and scouting information about Vasquez to then Chargers GM A.J. Smith before getting hired as the Vice President of Football Operations for the Indianapolis Colts. Hal Hunter was the Offensive Line coach for the Chargers from 2006-2012, he later served as the Offensive Coordinator in the 2012-13 NFL season before being brought in as the Colts’ Assistant Offensive Line coach . Keep in mind that the San Diego Chargers have not made the playoffs since the 2009-2010 season when Vasquez has drafted. Cherilus can become the Colts new RT for these reasons; the Detroit Lions are below salary cap ($2 Million under) and will have to do some cutting and contract restructures to get above the cap room. Cherilus might not get resigned due to cap restrictions. Also, the Detroit Lions have failed to make the playoffs 4 of the 5 seasons Cherilus was a member of the team. Chris Williams is very under the radar, he can fill in at LT,LG, or RT if needed having played all three positions as a member of the Chicago Bears. Williams will make a nice upgrade over starting LG and free agent Joe Reitz.
Phil Loadholt will demand much deserved top dollar to be signed, if the Vikings can’t somehow get him the money he wants, he can possibly find his way to the Colts. Loadholt’s future as a Colt can be listed as 50/50. If the Colts decided not to sign elite caliber lineman and wanted to sign players who are solid but low-key; Bears RG Chilo Rachal and Texans RT Rashad Butler are decent players who can possibly be upgrades and won’t break the bank.
If Grigson was to take the Offensive Line approach and use $43 Million to buy the best O-Line ever assembled in Indianapolis for Andrew Luck, he can then use the 2013 NFL Draft and go defense heavy to get players needed for Chuck Pagano’s scheme. The draft for the Colts can shape up to be something like this:
1st Round: CB Desmond Trufant, CB Xavier Rhodes, CB DeMarcus Milliner, Safety Matt Elam, OLB Barkevious Mingo, ILB Kevin Minter, or DE Kawann Short
3rd Round: CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Jordan Poyer, CB Logan Ryan, Safety Bacarri Rambo, Safety Shawn Williams, OLB Chase Thomas, OLB DeVonte’ Holloman, DE Margus Hunt, or DE Malliciah Goodman
4th Round: CB Jamar Taylor, CB Terry Hawthorne, CB Tharold Simon, CB Robert Alford,CB Micah Hyde, Safety Phillip Thomas, DE/OLB Devin Taylor, or DE Joe Kruger.
If we can sign at least one player of each position of need on the O-Line to upgrade it. We can potentially be looking at a very talented pass protecting and run blocking unit.
LT- Castonzo LG-Williams C-Shipley RG-Vasquez or Rachal RT-Cherilus or Loadholt
This might be the new and heavily improved 2013 Colts O-Line that will provide solid pass protection for Andrew Luck while road blocking in the run game for RBs Donald Brown and Vick Ballard.