Prior to the start of free agency, I wrote this. It was a list of players I wanted the Colts to sign once the new league year began and teams could begin tossing bags of money at veteran free agents hitting the open market. A key part of my wish list strategy was for the Colts to let corner Vontae Davis walk, and that very nearly happened.
If you'll note the date of my wish list article (March 9th), it was before the Buccaneers cut all-world corner Darrelle Revis. In an ideal world, things would have worked out so that the money the Colts gave Davis would instead go to signing Revis, a significantly better player.
Alas, it was not to be, but now that we know that Davis' contract is essentially a two-year deal with most of his guaranteed money dished out in year two, it's time to give Colts general manager Ryan Grigson his due.
I wanted the Colts to go after both Brandon Browner and Revis. They both ended up with the Patriots. I'll be interesting to see how well they play together and whether the Patriots secondary will be better than the Colts in 2014. But, regardless, Grigson made some good moves in free agency, and it's hard to find too much fault in his free agent haul this offseason. At least, for me, that is.
The key players in my wish list were defensive tackle Arthur Jones, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, and center Jonathan Goodwin. Grigson inked two of those three, and, for the position Goodwin plays, he inked former Cowboys center Phil Costa.
Signing Costa looks as if Grigson is following my suggested path or inking a veteran to play center to compete with second-year player Khaled Holmes. Here's what I wrote back in February on this very subject:
Again, I cannot stress this enough: The players Ryan Grigson invested heavily in last year (Cherilus, Holmes, Thornton, and Thomas) must deliver. If they don't, fire Grigson and get someone who knows how the hell to build an offensive line. Investing millions of dollars in high-priced guys like Browns center Alex Mack is not the way to go. The draft is where offensive line talent must be cultivated, and, since Grigson is a former NFL linemen himself, his knowledge of linemen was supposed to be one of the reasons why Jim Irsay gave the unproven Grigson the G.M. job in 2012.
In the end, Holmes has to become the starter and play better than the recently-released Samson Satele. If not, then Holmes a wasted pick from a 2013 NFL Draft class that hasn't exactly looked stellar for Grigson.
No, Costa is not better than Goodwin. In fact, it's not even close. But, two out of three ain't bad, and it seems that, at the end of the day, Grigson and I agree that Holmes must start soon.
Also, wile I think it was wise for the Colts to show interest Browns center Alex Mack, it was smarter to leave it at just that. Allotting big money in acquiring Mack would place too much short and long-term cap money in the offensive line. Players like Holmes and fellow second-year lineman Hugh Thornton simply must contribute more in 2014. If they don't, and if Andrew Luck continues to get battered, then Grigson needs to be accountable.
Overall, even though there are holes all over this extremely flawed Colts roster, Grigson navigated free agency reasonably well. It's tough for me to complain too much because, unlike last year, he got the guys I wanted.
The key now for Grigson is he must hit some home runs in the 2014 draft. He needs people who can play now, not guys who need time to develop. Grigson also needs at least one of his 2013 prospects to start looking like a real NFL player. Contrary to what Grigson would have you believe, players are not drafted to create competition. They're drafted to eventually become starters, and, if they don't develop into starters, then coaches and general managers start losing their jobs.
The biggest areas of concern on this roster presently are interior offensive line, the secondary, nose tackle, and pass rusher. The Colts also have weak depth all across their somewhat old and patch work defense, which is comprised mostly of free agent acquisitions.