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Colts Free Agency: If the Colts Had to Sign One Big Free Agent, Who Should it Be?

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If the Colts had to sign one of the big name free agents on the market (in March), which one would make the most sense? Stampede Blue's Andrew Aziz breaks down the candidates.

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There are plenty of big name free agents on the market right now. Whether you want a wide receiver or a defensive tackle, if you have the money, you can at least attract some of the big names. It has been reported that Ryan Grigson is looking to make some "significant moves" this free agency. Could he be going after a big name free agent? Who are those big names anyway? Let's play the elimination game.

Here is a list of the big free agents, in no particular order, with my current salary per year projections in brackets (based on market value, production in the past three seasons, age, value to their team and potential):

Ndamukong Suh -- Defensive Tackle (14M per year)

Justin Houston -- Edge Defender (12M per year)

Dez Bryant -- Wide Receiver (10.5M per year)

Demaryius Thomas -- Wide Receiver (10.5M per year)

Darrelle Revis -- Cornerback (16M per year)

Demarco Murray -- Running Back (9M per year)

Julius Thomas -- Tight End (6.5M per year)

Brian Orakpo -- Edge Defender (8.5M per year)

Nick Fairley -- Defensive Tackle (6M per year)

Randall Cobb -- Wide Receiver (9M per year)

Jason Pierre Paul -- Edge Defender (7M per year)

Devin McCourty -- Safety (6.5M per year)

Jeremy Maclin -- Wide Receiver (6M per year)

Bryan Bulaga -- Offensive Tackle (5.5M per year)

Pernell McPhee -- Edge Defender (6.5M per year)

Mike Iupati -- Offensive Guard (7M per year)

Stefan Wisniewski -- Offensive Guard / Center (7M per year)

Rolando McClain -- Inside Linebacker (5M per year)

Let's look at the six biggest needs on the Colts. These are the biggest holes on the Colts right now, in no particular order:

- Inside Linebacker

- Interior Offensive Line

- Running Back

- Safety

- 5 Technique Defensive End

- Outside Linebacker / Edge Defender

Looking at those position of needs, let's eliminate the players on the list above that don't fit. When we do that, we come down to these names (with the stars representing the likelihood of leaving their team; 5 being likely and 1 being unlikely) :

Elimination Round 1

Ndamukong Suh -- Defensive Tackle (14M per year) 

Justin Houston -- Edge Defender (12M per year) 

Demarco Murray -- Running Back (9M per year) 

Brian Orakpo -- Edge Defender (8.5M per year) 

Nick Fairley -- Defensive Tackle (6M per year) 

Jason Pierre Paul -- Edge Defender (7M per year) 

Frank Gore -- Running Back (5M per year) 

Devin McCourty -- Safety (6.5M per year) 

Pernell McPhee -- Edge Defender (6.5M per year) 

Mike Iupati -- Offensive Guard (7M per year) 

Stefan Wisniewski -- Offensive Guard / Center (7M per year) 

Rolando McClain -- Inside Linebacker (5M per year) 

If we eliminate the one and the two star players, that leaves us with:

Elimination Round 2

Ndamukong Suh -- Defensive Tackle (14M per year)

Demarco Murray -- Running Back (9M per year)

Brian Orakpo -- Edge Defender (8.5M per year)

Nick Fairley -- Defensive Tackle (6M per year)

Jason Pierre Paul -- Edge Defender (7M per year)

Frank Gore -- Running Back (5M per year)

Pernell McPhee -- Edge Defender (6.5M per year)

Mike Iupati -- Offensive Guard (7M per year)

Stefan Wisniewski -- Offensive Guard / Center (7M per year)

Rolando McClain -- Inside Linebacker (5M per year)

According to Spotrac, the Colts have 37M in cap space, but they would need to sign several of their free agents. Even if they signed their free agents for contracts totalling 15M (in cap space for Year 1 of their deals), the Colts would still have 22M left over.

However, the Colts almost never spend more than 7M a year on a free agent. Grigson has never spent more than 7M a year on a free agent during his tenure with the Colts. Gosder Cherilus was his biggest contract at 5 years, 35M. So, considering that a surprising amount of free agents who sign massive contracts fail to meet expectations, on top of the fact that the Colts are never monster spenders, it's a pretty safe bet to think the Colts won't go crazy this year. So, for those reasons, let's eliminate the players with contract projections of more than 7M a year. That leaves us with:

Elimination Round 3

Nick Fairley -- Defensive Tackle (6M per year)

Jason Pierre Paul -- Edge Defender (7M per year)

Frank Gore -- Running Back (5M per year)

Pernell McPhee -- Edge Defender (6.5M per year)

Mike Iupati -- Offensive Guard (7M per year)

Stefan Wisniewski -- Offensive Guard / Center (7M per year)

Rolando McClain -- Inside Linebacker (5M per year)

Our second to last elimination round eliminate players with any sort of troubled history. That would then leave us with:

Elimination Round 4

Jason Pierre Paul -- Edge Defender (7M per year)

Frank Gore -- Running Back (5M per year)

Pernell McPhee -- Edge Defender (6.5M per year)

Mike Iupati -- Offensive Guard (7M per year)

Stefan Wisniewski -- Offensive Guard / Center (7M per year)

That leaves us with five players: two interior offensive linemen, two edge defenders and a running back. Our last elimination round eliminates players who are NOT good scheme fits. That would then leave us with these final three players:

Final Round

Pernell McPhee -- Edge Defender (6.5M per year)

Frank Gore -- Running Back (5M per year)

Mike Iupati -- Offensive Guard (7M per year)

These players are very different, but would provide a lot of value at three position of need for the Colts. Here is why one is more valuable than the other two. One of these positions is very crowded and has an important player returning from injury. One of these players is getting up there in age and has a lot of mileage, making him a mediocre signing candidate. For these reasons, the Colts should then sign:

Winner

Mike Iupati -- Offensive Guard (7M per year)

Offensive line has always been a huge priority and the Colts have always tried to fix it up (to no avail). Iupati played in a similar type of system in San Francisco and was one of the top offensive guards in the NFL for the past two seasons. He would command a pretty big contract, but he would be worth it. He would fix a big need on the offensive line and the Colts would have flexibility with Jack Mewhort (as they could move him to right guard, right tackle or even center). They would have newfound depth at the position as well. Iupati makes the most sense and would have the biggest impact.

If the Colts needed to make sign a big free agent, Mike Iupati would make the most sense.