The linebacker spot is an interesting one for the Colts entering the 2014 season.
They already have two of the four spots firmly entrenched with Jerrell Freeman an emerging star at inside linebacker and Robert Mathis at outside linebacker. Those two are two of the best players on the entire Colts roster.
The other two spots are more of a question mark. Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner are both free agents come March 11, and I'm doubtful that either of them return. That leaves just Kelvin Sheppard, Josh McNary, and Mario Harvey as the inside linebackers competing for a spot next year. The Colts really like McNary (so do I) so while he's not guaranteed of his spot or anything, he'll definitely get plenty of chances.
At outside linebacker, the Colts signed Erik Walden (4-years, $16 million) last offseason and used their first round pick on Bjoern Werner to play the outside linebacker spot opposite of Robert Mathis. While neither of those players were great in 2013, I have a hard time seeing the Colts go after an outside linebacker after they invested so much into the position last offseason and with Werner still learning and showing improvement.
I could see the Colts going after an inside linebacker, however. I don't think that they will sign a big money player or use their second round pick (the first one they have) on the position unless there's a really good linebacker on the board when they pick. I think that they like McNary enough that they're willing to go with him but they'd love to add another linebacker to give him competition and add to the rotation.
Competition is never a bad thing, and I think that is what the Colts would be looking to add a linebacker for. That's not to say that they won't add a starting linebacker, just that I don't think they'll add a guy who is already established enough that he automatically takes the starting role.
Potential Linebacker Options for teams this Offseason:
Free Agents (keep in mind some of these players will be re-signed by their current team)
- Donald Butler, San Diego Chargers (ILB)
- Daryl Smith, Baltimore Ravens (ILB)
- Karlos Dansby, Kansas City Chiefs (ILB)
- Brandon Spikes, New England Patriots (ILB)
- Calvin Pace, New York Jets (OLB)
- Parys Haralson, New Orleans Saints (OLB)
- C.J. Mosely, Alabama (ILB)
- Shayne Skov, Stanford (ILB)
- Chris Borland, Wisconsin (ILB)
- Christian Jones, Florida State (ILB)
- Max Bullough, Michigan State (ILB)
- Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA (ILB)
- Anthony Barr, UCLA (OLB)
- Ryan Shazier, Ohio State (OLB)
- Kyle Van Noy, BYU (OLB)
- Khalil Mack, Buffalo (OLB)
- Adrian Hubbard, Alabama (OLB)
- Vic Beasley, Clemson (OLB)