In the weeks leading up to and immediately following the Super Bowl, we began to be aware of a little thing called the Final Eight rule. This rule went into effect once the CBA was not re-negotiated and the league entered its final year under the current CBA. The rule is simply that the final eight teams in the playoffs - the Saints, Colts, Vikings, Jets, Cowboys, Cardinals, Ravens and Chargers - would not be free to pursue any unrestricted free agent (UFA) unless the team lost one of their own UFAs to another team. There are other restrictions as well, but this is the crux.
Now, what nobody... and I mean NOBODY... seemed interested in revealing until recently was that the Final Eight rule actually comes to an end. By omitting this detail, many of us were led to believe that the rule would prevail until March 1, 2011 (the first official day of next season). Journalism like this angers me and will be the subject of another rant, but for now let me focus on the rule.
The rule expires on July 22, after which the Colts (plus the other affected teams) will be free to pursue whomever they desire. Personally I think this is great news - largely because I'm a strong believer in the free market - but of course the players available by then won't necessarily be the strongest. Further, they will have missed out on significant offseason time with the team, further limiting their effectiveness. Still, the Colts need to restock at corner, and there's always the possibility of other casualties before the season starts (don't worry - I just bit my tongue).
These dynamics make looking at players like Nick Harper, or bringing back T.J. Rushing or Tyjuan Hagler a more likely route for the Colts.