OK, for the next two weeks or so, we're going to be writing a ton about which free agents did and did not sign with our beloved Indianapolis Colts in 2013. Until that happens - and while I have new writers like Evan Sidery slaving through hours of game tape, studying these potential free agents - it's time for me (aka, the big d*ck around here) to put my money where my mouth is (zing!) and tell you readers who I think the Colts should sign.
This way, if they do sign any of the people I'm about to list, and those said people turn out to be busts, you can spend the rest of your waking days mocking me. It's OK. I enjoy it. I also like studded leather.
Anyway, here's my list of who they should sign, and why:
1) Cliff Avril, OLB-DE
The Colts need a pass rusher. We've written about this ad nauseam. Dwight Freeney is gone, Robert Mathis is 32-years-old, and Jerry Hughes is a bust. Adding Avril would instantly boost a pass rush that was ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in 2012 and only got to the opposing QB 32 times.
Avril is 6'3, 260 lbs, which puts him the near-same height and weight as Freeney. However, unlike Freeney, he is 26-years-old and a bit more athletic. He played linebacker at Purdue University before switching to defensive end his junior and senior seasons. For the Colts, who run a "hybrid" 3-4 that requires the edge rushers to occasionally line up in a three-point stance, Avril would be an ideal fit. He is also open to switching to 3-4 OLBer.
The bottom line is Avril is a younger, more consistent pass rusher than other options in the free agent market, such as Paul Kruger. Kruger has 15.5 total sacks for his career, and he's 27-years-old. Avril is 26 and has 39.5 for his. The last three seasons in Detroit, Avril has averaged 10 sacks a season. That is exactly what the Colts need.
Last year, Avril turned down a three-year deal worth $30 million, with $20 million guaranteed. He'll be looking for a five-year deal worth $65 million. However, unlike Kruger, his career numbers justify that type of contract.
2) Antoine Cason, CB
If you're going to spend a ton on a pass rusher like Avril, you can't be making trades for players like Darrelle Revis. So, please, I' begging you, stop asking me if the Colts are going to trade for Revis. They already have Vontae Davis, who they traded a second round pick in 2013 for.
However, outside of Davis, the Colts are lacking talent at corner. Players like Cassius Vaughn, Josh Gordy, or a potentially re-signed Darius Butler or Jerraud Powers are solid No. 3 corners. They aren't starters. Antoine Cason is.
Since being drafted in the first round in 2008, Cason has 12 career INTs and 55 passes defended. Last year, he had two picks, two forced fumbles, and 62 tackles. That is starting-caliber, and it is the sort of talent Indy needs opposite Vontae Davis in order for Chuck Pagano's defense to work.
3) Brandon Moore, OG
Finally, because offensive line is a priority, and because significant cash is potentially going to a pass rusher like Avril and a corner like Cason, spending big bucks on Andy Levitre or Louis Vasquez simply isn't an option. However, getting a discount price on an older player who, according to Pro Football Focus, might be better than Levitre and Vasquez is not a bad idea.
Enter New York Jets guard Brandon Moore.
Say whatever you want about the Jets offense in 2012 (I’ll say they were terrible seeing as they were ranked No. 28th in terms of scoring), but their running game was ranked 12th in the entire league. Not bad. In 2010, they were ranked 4th. In 2009, they were ranked 1st. The only blip in their yearly rushing ranking was 2011 when they were ranked 22nd, but still, that's some very consistent dedication to running the ball. Moore is a big reason for that. He's a sturdy, dependable player who has been there, done that. He also has experience working with Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Hamilton was an assistant with the Jets in 2004, and Moore was still playing in NY at that time.
Another Jets player I'll toss in here is DE-NT Mike DeVito. It's unlikely that the Colts will make a play for him, but I think they should. I just like the guy. Tough. Plays hard. Fits in well in a 3-4 "hybrid" scheme. Playing mostly NT last year for the Jets, he had 52 tackles, a sack, and two forced fumbles. Also, he's 28, and hitting his prime. For a defense in desperate need of quality defensive line play, DeVito would be a big upgrade.
So, those are my picks.
Dumb? Unrealistic? Jesus Brad, are you serious about friggin' Avril?
Feel free to punch me to a pulp in the comments below.