(This was written very fast so sure going to be typos and errors but had no time but to proof read it once over)
I waited a long time to post the follow up to my first part. Lot of that has been good old fashioned laziness but part of it is I wanted to wait to near start of FA as to best get a 'complete picture' of what players would be out there and how the market would shape up. Then add the unexpected 10 million dollar salary cap jump and FA has become much more active than anybody previously thought.
My first article really was the meat of me "Plan" so don't expect a slew of brand new ideas in this. I tried to make it clear that to me the defense was the problem on this team and it (As hard as this to believe) played ABOVE the talent on the field. Maybe that is a sign of a great coach in Pagano or maybe a solid DC in Manusky ( The former seems about 10x more likely). In looking back at my post I am proud of what I posted. I went against the grain on some stuff but the only player I listed that is not going to hit FA was Sam Shields and he was an 11th hour signing who I said I thought was underrated. Looks like he got what he deserved.
There is one thing to point out. The big 10 million jump in FA was bad in terms of getting players on cheap. I've heard some people act as though this extra 10 million is just more money to spend. Well yeah but you are sort of missing the boat on what really happens. If you gave every American a million dollars then we would all be millionaires. WOO!!! But you'd find the next morning that buying a Big Mac at McDonald's now cost $599.99. This sudden big amount of cash simply drives up the price. Now some cooler heads might say "Yeah the price for free agents went up but nothing has really changed. The proportion of increase in cost is equally to the increase in available cash." Only in Econ 101 is that true. Markets are messy things. They are not perfect and the forces that act on markets are those that are played out over periods of times. In good theory a market does 'balance out'; as in any increase in new cash will align itself with new cost but that does not happen immediately. Markets have to correct themselves.This huge jump ($320 million dollars overall) was unexpected and has created a market 'rush'. The cost of players is increased higher than the increased cash to spend. It has NOT been a proportional increase. That is the only reasonable explanation of the recent Colts signing's silly price tag.
It is also key to understand that markets are made up of people and people are not machines. Teams see a wad of 10 million bucks and are less frugal---that is how people are. The increase of 10 million also simply added more players into the market. Many teams that were so cash strapped they were going to be non players---that is no longer the case. Just like any auction ---add more bidders and prices go up. The Colts now face a more crowded field.
So you have read me spending a lot of time talking about how the increase salary cap was bad for getting players cheap and you might think I am course going to want the Colts to take a more backseat role in FA now. Well let's not all true. Let us all gasp at once-----I believe the complete opposite. I've explained how the increase has caused a 'rush' in the market. Well you have to try and understand people. The other teams in the league are seeing prices jump on players and seeing a mad dash for top of the players. That giddiness they got when they saw their gift wrapped 10 million dollars has quickly turned into out right panic of how to spend it. Teams are afraid they are going to loose out on the goodies for sale. They are also afraid that if the salary cap jumped by 10 million when it was supposed to be a flat year-----how much is it going to jump in coming years when it was SUPPOSED to make a big jump? They are scared. They are rushing to sign big name guys NOW to save their butts and to hopefully lock up these big name guys before prices take another big jump when salary cap could see huge increase again.
So why should Colts spend more because of this? Well if you read my first part I made it clear I don't go after big name guys. I go after guys I find to be a good VALUE. Guys that are worth more than what you pay them. Guys who have upside and fit the system. When FA opens this market panic will have the big name guys getting flooded with requests. Teams will have their targets set on the so called 'cream of the crop'. In this moment the Colts can strike. Go after the under-the-radar, underrated guys who are being left out. Really think about. Every NFL off season their are the 'Top 10"or "Top 25" or whatever list of the best free agents. How many of those big names ever work out? Think about it.
The other reason I believe Colts should be bigger buyers this year is the logic I mentioned above. The Cap was not supposed to increase by this much and it jumped a lot. If the 'big jump' in salary cap is still few yeas away----then lock up talent NOW. If you can get a top tier, young DT for 6 million per year NOW why not sign him instead of waiting when it is going to cost 8+ million per year?
So what is the actual plan? Well I still believe Davis should be resigned but not for more than 7-8 million per year. I still believe the contract should be back loaded if possible. You sometimes have to admit when you are wrong and I was. Coming into the season I talked who Davis would emerge as a game changing CB. He did change some games----but not always in way I wanted. He did have some GREAT games but he also had some PUTRID games. Is a player like that worth tons of cash? It is vital to be objective about players. It is hard to get past your fan-hood but in order to accurately judge players you have too. So let's talk Davis. His first year he Davis missed a lot of time and for the first half of the year he was bad. Now as the year came to an end he showed good progress. He still as no top tier CB but he played well and it gave reason for optimism. Coming into this year he had just as many great games as awful games and we would all like to think Davis is a new man but can we all remember why Miami traded him? He has had behavior issues and run ins with the law but the biggest complaint against Davis was--------work ethic. Have we not seen that ourselves? Some games he really just does not seem really engaged. Sort of standing by, staring into space, just all around uninterested. So let's cut to the chase. Davis had one year full year with the Colts where he had great games and SERIOUSLY bad games and he did this all in a contract year? I'd like to think otherwise but I really think that Davis is the type of player who gets his big contract and just stops giving a damn. If he cannot be resigned DRC is really the best option to replace him. I'd say he'll command about what Davis would and even though I think Davis has more potential (Potential is a key word there) upside, I have more faith in DRC being there week in and week out. Hope I am wrong but Davis seem almost 'too motivated' by money. We all are of course motivated by money but he seems like he only carries about the number on the contract and literally NOTHING else. That is a bad sign. Hope I am wrong.
Toler must go. It makes zero sense to keep him. I know the CB market has gotten insanely pricey but Toler is crap. Even if you believe he is good (I pity you) he never plays. The guy has a horrid history with injuries and this year was no different. For 4-5 million you can get a solid #2 CB who you know---actually plays. Grigson would be an arrogant fool to not sign somebody and cut Toler's glass butt.
I still believe the entire D-line needs to be redone. Lamarr Houston is still the most underrated player in the NFL. I mean that. The team that is smart enough to sign him is going to get the best value of the year----just watch. I locked in on Arther Jones and Lamarr Houston early and does seem others are catching on. I wish that would not of happened but I still think they are as close to 'must signs' for the Colts as there is.
It worries me Jones is getting SO much attention lately but if this team is serious about having a top defense Jones is a no-brainer guy to bring in. Even if his price has increased to 7 million per year he is worth it. RJF makes 5.5 million (Cue me puking) and RJF is nowhere near the talent level as Jones and here is the big one---RJF does not even play. The guys who I see defending RJF and Toler have yet to explain how even if these guys are not as bad and hugely over paid as I say------how good are they if they never play? This year was RJF's first year as a starter and he missed 7 games. Jones is a solid player who has a total of 4 games over last 3 years. He adds pass rush and is a tackling machine. He fits Pagano's system perfectly. Pick up the phone Grigson. I've said since Nov that Jones is the most OBVIOUS signing for the Colts in recent memory.
So many Grigson fans defended last year's signings like RJF and Toler by saying "Oh Grigson is a genius. He signed this guys to have them live up to contracts and prove they are worth it. They can easily be cut and are low risk contracts". Well the year has passed and they did not come close to living up to their contracts and suddenly the song has changed. Now I hear "Well we can't judge them because they were hurt". What? So on their 'prove it contract' they were awful and your defense of them was they were hurt all the time? Time for them to go. I hope this FO is not going to continue the 'double down' on its mistakes policy it has had last 2 years.
Houston and Jones are still my top guys to go after to fix the line. NT is a different story. I am less sure of myself there. I still am a big fan of Chapman but is he ready to take over the full time duties? I don't know. I said I thought Soliai would not be resigned and things have gone better than expected. Miami did not resign Starks either. That is GREAT FOR THE COLTS. Starks is the better DT than Soliai in a 4-3 which Miami plays in. Soliai is a 3-4 NT playing DT in a 4-3 and with Starks also hitting the market Soliai got cheaper. Colts need to seriously contact this guy.
In regards to OLB: Mathis.
I was not happy with the Werner pick last year and saw nothing from him that gave me hope but hopefully we can turn it around. One thing I still don't quite understand is if Werner is being groomed to be the replacement for Mathis or Walden? If the Colts want Werner to become a weak-side OLB I have lost all faith in this team. Werner is not athletic enough to be a WOLB. He can't play in coverage and the NFL is more and more a passing league. Also, whether we like it or not the Option is here to stay in some facet in the NFL for years to come. Teams are also slowly going to embrace more athletic offensive lines to play a spread like offense. (See Eagles whose offense I am a HUGE fan of). That means OLB have be better lateral movers and just all around more nimble on their feet. Werner is NONE of those things and even before the draft this was a well established fact. Werner needs to be groomed to take over for Mathis plain and simple. Next year is a big year for him.
In my first article I brought up Anthony Spencer and how I thought he was going to be a big steal. I said that you hear NOTHING about him. Well, has that changed? Before his injury he was a stud. He is a WOLB by nature and Colts HAVE to call him up. Walden is not the guy. Spencer is old and is not a long term answer but he still has a years left in him. He is going to come cheap and it makes no sense to not try and sign him.
So that concludes a general REDUX of my first post. In that first post I left out 2 spots on the defense. ILB and FS. Well that empty ILB spot has been filled. I am not a big fan of the signing but it is done so how it is. How should FS be addressed? Bethea is a no go. I am a big fan of Bethea and I really thought this year he would be a force. He had moments (That tackle in SF game was one of best plays of the year) but overall he was bad. Two straight years of poor play and almost 30? Time to say good-bye. I do think he is going to get massively over paid somewhere. Call it the 'Tim Jennings Effect". For some reason sub par DBs on the Colts get big money on another team. I still remember when Titans paid Nick Harper and saying "Have they watched him play?". I know many of you want Byrd to take over the FS spot. I will say I would not be angry if the Colts brought in a guy like Byrd but I don't agree with it. The sad truth is that Byrd is going to get WAY too much money. He is a very good coverage safety but he is about to be paid 10+ million per year with a huge amount guaranteed and no safety is worth that money. They better be like the Peyton Manning of safeties to get that type of contract and Byrd is good but he is not THAT good. I believe the Colts need to get their FS in the draft. It is a risky bet to go into the draft with no clear FS but I think it is the best move. I just don't see any guys out there worth opening up the check book for but it is a smart move to sign a cheap, veteran FS as depth and/or insurance for next year. The depth of talent in terms of DB in the draft this year is insane. I really think the Colts should take a FS in the 2nd and look to a CB (A certain Florida Gator CB maybe) in the 3rd
What about the offense? Well as much as was disgusted with the play calling this year I have to say I don't see a ton of needs on the offense. Before everybody get's all excited, yes the interior line is garbage. It is the one area on the offense I believe needs to be addressed. We can only hope the very little we saw of Thomas was indicative of his play and he will be a solid LG to help cover Luck's backside. Grigson finally got rid of Satele and any true Colts fan has to be excited about that. I have been singing Mack's name for a months but that is not going to happen. We would all like to think Holmes could step in and be the starter but to think a 4th RD center who was as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster can take over the starting duties is really silly. There are some good centers out there to grab and my personal favorite is Goodwin with the 49ers. Brad made a great point that Goodwin brings an automatic toughness that this team needs and no team screams "Power Run" more than the 49ers offensive line.
The RG spot is up in the air. I was a premature in my judgement of Thornton. I watched that Browns preseason game and said right then I said 'That Thornton guy is going to be a stud'. I ate my words on that one. There is time for the guy but he really seemed to get worse as the year went and that is a very bad sign. Colts would be foolish to give up on him but he cannot be the starter come next year. As much as I like Geoff Schwartz ,(because of his ability to slide to tackle if need be), he is going to get paid too much I think. The guy Geoff took over for is Jon Asamoah and I think would be a nice signing for the Colts. I would not be shocked if Jon would want a 1 year 'prove it deal' and that would be great for the Colts. I have to admit I sort of feel bad for Jon. Before his injury Jon was in line for a big payday but sadly he got hurt and a player came in who played even better than him. Make no mistake---Jon Asamoah is a very good guard but the KC line depth is just THAT deep. I'd be happy with either one of those guys to be honest.
In terms of the rest of the offense.....nothing. I don't believe in FA WRs. I don't like it. It rarely works and WR is a position SO dependent on the connection with the QB I hate spending money and crossing your fingers that chemistry happens. There are tons of lesser name WR that are worth a shot a la DHB contract from last year but nothing big money or long term I can get behind.
For the love of all that is good in the universe please do not call Eric Decker. Please. Just don't. Just to add a mount of salt into the wound if they did sign him, I have spent pretty much the last 6 months joking with friends saying "Some dumb team is going to pay that guy a lot of money because Peyton throws to him".
Don't call him. Don't even think of him. Don't do it.
One last thing.....don't sign Erick Decker.