We are less than 2 weeks away from the beginning of the 2014 NFL Free Agency, I’m very excited to see what new players we bring in that can potentially help us capture that Lombardi Trophy. Last year’s Free Agency splash left an undesired taste in a few mouths of Colts fans as Colts GM Ryan Grigson overpaid for less than stellar players like OLB Erik Walden, SS LaRon Landry, CB Greg Toler, and DE Ricky Jean Francois. But let’s keep one thing in mind folks; he is a young GM who will make mistakes from time to time. Let’s not judge a man by the mistakes me makes, but by the way he corrects those mistakes that were made.
According to ESPN and numerous media outlets, the new projected NFL Salary cap has been bumped up to $133 Million, which currently puts the Colts Salary Cap at $41 Million dollars similar to the 2013 cap amount. If the Colts were to part ways with Center Samson Satele, that will free up another $4 Million towards the cap which brings the total to $45 Million. The Colts Front Office can add another $4.1 Million in spending power with the release of CB Greg Toler bringing the Colts salary cap to an astonishing $49.1 Million dollars to fill necessary needs. These two moves can benefit the Colts in major ways without hurting us in the long run, We save $8.1 Million dollars and the dead money is only a mere $1.7 Million. We can easily find upgrades and still save money.
Now before you ask "Who can we actually sign to replace these guys". I will list variable options later in the article.
OK, lets get down to nut-cracking shall we.
Guys to Re-sign:
Vontae Davis, CB (5-year $30 Million; $25 Million guaranteed)
Davis has shown inconsistencies from time to time, but he has also shown shut down capabilities. I think whenever we executed a good defensive game-plan (SEA, SF, DEN) Vontae showed his weight in gold and played to his potential. However, when we went into the game with flawed or no type of strategy (STL, ARI, CIN) he struggled to make plays. Davis seems to enjoy playing with this organization and has good chemistry with Pagano.
Josh Gordy, CB (3-year $2.1 Million)
I remember back in the 2012 pre season, he has getting abused badly and I really wanted him off the team, but he really showed some promise as time went on and easily became our best backup CB in 2013, he practically saved us in the 2013 Wild Card Playoffs against the Chiefs making a crucial defensive play against an established vet like Dwayne Bowe and even held his own from time to time against the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, AJ Green, and DeAndre Hopkins.
Fili Moala, DE (3-year $2.4 Million)
Moala has the skills and potential to start if Redding or RJF were to suffer an injury with the talent drop-off being extremely small. He filled in nicely when RJF went down and played quite well causing disruption in the front 7. His best play was tipping a pass from Henne that was later intercepted by Antoine Bethea and returned for 46 yards.
Pat McAfee, Punter (4-year $8.8 Million)
McAfee has been a fan favorite among Colts fan since been drafted in 2009. He has his own web site called PatMcAfeeshow.com which he uses to interact with the fan base. McAfee is one of the best sure tackling punters in the league making numerous stops which could have put several Colts games out of reach.
Adam Vinatieri, Placekicker (1-year $3 Million)
Vinatieri has been quite clutch in his career since 1996, he has kicked for two different NFL teams and played in 6 Super Bowls, winning a total of 4 (2 of them being in the final seconds off his leg) and has put many games back in the Colts favor since 2006.
Joe Reitz, Guard (2-year $1.8 Million)
Reitz has starter experience at both Guard spots, despite suffering a few concussions last season, he played quite well and can be considered the teams best backup O-lineman. O-line depth is a crucial need this off-season for the Colts.
Guys we should pursue:
Alex Mack (CLE), Center (4-year $36 Million; $28 Million guaranteed)
Mack is regarded as the best center in the AFC and only third to Panthers Center Ryan Kalil and Eagles Center Jason Kelce. If Grigson is smart he can try to sweet talk Mack into coming to the Colts. Grigson should start off like this:
"Listen here Alex, you are an extremely talented and well-rounded center, so far in your career you have been short changed by playing for the Cleveland Browns. You have played for 3 different Head Coaches and General Mangers and have snapped the ball to at-least 8 different Quarterbacks all in 5 seasons and you have nothing to really show for it. If you want to see some type of continuity in your career, come to Indianapolis and help protect a true franchise QB in Andrew Luck, help us get that Lombardi and place a nice Super Bowl ring or two on your fingers. That choice is yours Alex; I’ll be in touch".
Keep in mind that the Cleveland Browns have more cap space than Indianapolis and could afford to sign and offer Mack any contract he so desires.
Jairus Byrd (BUF), Free Safety (5-year $40 Million; $30 Million Guaranteed)
Byrd is the best ball-hawking and deep coverage FS in the NFL right now with very little competition. He can easily make a secondary better and watch over CBs covering talented WRs ; disrupting passing plays and helping to create turnovers or even help the defense get off the field. Byrd will likely demand a lucrative amount of money for a contract, but to be honest he deserves it. Like Mack; Byrd has played for a team that has failed to reach the post-season and asked to be traded last season before signing the franchise tag. Grigson could really use that fact as a way of swaying Byrd to become the Colts new starting Free Safety.
Lamarr Houston (OAK), DE (5-year $25 Million; $15 Million Guaranteed)
Houston is perhaps one of the most underrated 3-4 DEs in the league, he’s pretty stout against the run and can disrupt QBs in the passing game if the pocket is collapsed. I think he will fill in nicely for aging veteran Cory Redding who turns 34 this November and brings talent and youth to the D-line.
Mike Jenkins (OAK), CB (3-year $10 Million)
Before the start of the 2012 season not too long ago before Indianapolis acquire Vontae Davis via trade with Miami, it widely speculated that the Colts had good interest in CB Michael Jenkins. Jenkins is a pretty good bump and run man-to-man coverage CB who has always been somewhat of a good player in a bad secondary.
Sam Montgomery (HOU), OLB (5-year $4.5 Million)
Montgomery was released from the Houston Texans prior to Week 4 of 2013 NFL season for allegations of marijuana usage. He later passed a drug test that not only found him negative of weed smoking but other listed PEDs as well. Montgomery was a 3rd Round selection of the 2013 Draft. This guy has 1st Round talent but fell a few rounds due to poor Combine times. His 4.82 40-yard dash time and 7.28 3-cone drill would suggest that Montgomery was a 300+lbs D-Lineman instead of a 257 lbs LB. Despite the poor times, as a LSU fan; I can honestly say that Montgomery is faster and has more athleticism than Barkevious Mingo (1st Round; 6th Overall) and can find ways to get to the QB but his coverage skills are non-existent . He’s a good fit as a 3-4 RUSH OLB as well as being younger and cheaper. The Colts have giving WRs Da’Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill a second chance for infractions they both committed, I would love to see them do the same for a player who actually did nothing wrong.
Terry Hawthorne (PIT), CB (4-year $2.8 Million)
Hawthorne can be considered the CB version of Da’Rick Rogers. Full of potential and upside but very raw minus the off-field issues. He can serve as a Dimeback or 5th CB on the roster as Cassius Vaughn’s replacement. He was a depth chart casualty for the Steelers due to injures and being behind veteran talent as well as a few young guys with potential. He can benefit from Pagano’s coaching.
Other options for Center if we can’t come to terms with Alex Mack:
Fernando Velasco (PIT), Center/Guard (2-year $4 Million)
Ryan Cook (DAL), Center/Guard (2-year $4 Million)
Brian de la Puente (NO), Center (3-year $12 Million; $9 Million Guaranteed)
Ryan Wendell (NWE), Center (3-year $9 Million; $6 Million Guaranteed)
Other options for Safety if we can’t get a hold on Jairus Byrd:
Chris Clemons (MIA), (3-year $10 Million)
Malcolm Jenkins (NO), (4-year $20 Million; $16 Million Guaranteed)
Nate Allen (PHI), (4-year $16 Million; $12 Million Guaranteed)
Kendrick Lewis (KC), (5-year $20 Million; $15 Million Guaranteed)
Other options for Cornerback if we cut loose Toler to save money:
Antoine Cason (ARI) (2-year $8 Million; $6 Million Guaranteed)
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DEN) (3-year $12 Million Guaranteed)
Tarell Brown (SF) (2-year $5 Million)