The Colts offense is set. The Polians (they morphed into one omnipresent force now) made sure of that during the draft. By going out and getting Castonzo and Ijalana the Colts made a statement: We will make sure Peyton has all the time and tools he needs to be successful. The Colts further reiterated the point this week by re-signing Addai and Diem (say what you want about Diem, but having him as a utility backup in case of injuries is a nice insurance).
With the Peyton contract saga finally put to rest, the Colts have one of the most dangerous and potent offenses in the league. In fact, it might be the most formidable unit the Colts have put on the field in years. Barring the incredible rash of injuries last year, the Colts should light-up opposing defenses.
Peyton is a top three quarterback, Addai, Brown, Carter is suddenly a deep backfield, Wayne, Garcon, Collie is one of the deepest receiving corps in the league save Philadelphia and maybe now Atlanta/NE and no tight end is more dangerous than a healthy Dallas Clark (don't forget about Tamme and Eldridge). With a retooled offensive line, opposing teams better lookout.
Unfortunately the defense isn't as strong and that's where holes in the roster begin to show. One such area is safety. The Colts did well to re-sign Bullitt. That was an important step. Nevertheless the Colts are one injury from disaster. Having seen that play out last year and nearly derail our playoff streak (and actually derail our Super Bowl chances), it is imperative the Colts add one or two quality safeties to shore up the secondary. Unlike linebacker or defensive tackle, there is plenty of talent still on the market.
For the record, Melvin Bullitt should be the starter. He's earned it with his play. Anyone we bring in should be added to provide depth and insurance in case Bullit's shoulder gives out. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be looking for stater talent (as long as the front office can make the math work). The player that stands out as the best fit is Donte Whitner.
Donte Whitner, formerly of the Buffalo Bills:
A few weeks back I wrote about him here. The reason he won't be back in Buffalo is because of his ridiculous eight million a year asking price. Even in the panicy feeding frenzy that has defined this free agency period so far there is no way Buffalo or any other team pays that (Wait, I take that back, maybe Jacksonville will offer 5 years 60 million so they can definitely try and stop Peyton).
Once he lowers his price to a more reasonable amount, the Colts should jump all over him. His 140 tackles last year were near the tops in the league and his 3.4 percent miss-tackle rate was top four in the league and 140 tackles was the most of any of the other top five in the tackling efficiency category. When all is said-and-done, statistically Whitner was one of the best and surest tacklers in the league.
Gerald Sensabaugh, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys:
Not a sexy standout game changing stud, Sensabaugh has made his career as a reliable and durable safety. Besides missing almost all of 2007 with a knee injury, Sensabaugh has only missed one other game to injury in his six seasons.
Sensabaugh posted a career best in tackles (71) and interceptions (5). Dallas should make a strong effort to keep him, but if not Indy should join the fray and try to land a guy who has been mainly injury free, a trait the Colts secondary desperately lacks.
Bernard Pollard, formerly of the Houston Texans:
Pollard certainly wouldn't be a popular signing in Indy after his hit on Gonzalez knocked him out for the season, but the fact is that he can play (At least he doesn't discriminate and popped Brady too). The Colts need a big hitter to strike fear in opposing receivers and Pollard is that kind of player. He can bust people up, as evidence by the 4.5 fumbles he forced last season. Coming off a career 111 tackles, Pollard will be in high demand, however there is a chance that the combination of his liability in missing tackles (the Colts might take a chance on him because Bethea is such a sure tackler) and the fact that he is originally from Indy and played at Purdue, might be enough to lure him to the Colts. Plus I am sure he'd like to finally play for a winner.
Michael Johnson, formerly of the New York Giants:
Signing Johnson would be the epitome of risk vs. reward given his potential yet the rash of injuries he has faced. With the Colts history, his medical history would be even magnified. I would shy away, but his talent is certainly intriguing. Before getting hurt last season, he showing signs of blossoming into an elite safety having posted 72 tackles after it was thought he was just a placeholder until Kenny Philips was ready. Last season he only played two games and with Phillips as their name guy, the Giants are prepared to let Johnson walk.
Chinedum Ndukwe, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals:
There has been some speculation that the Bengals are pursuing Whitner. If that is indeed the case and the Bengals outbid the Colts for Whitner's services (if the Colts do in fact pursue him) then Cincinnati's Ndukwe would be an excellent back-up option and a solid player who could spell Bullit when needed. A Notre Dame product, Ndukwe is a capable starter who would be an excellent fit for the Colts. A guy who works hard and is said to be coachable, Ndukwe brings the no nonsense attitude that would make him an ideal fit in the Colts backfield.