The Colts are in need of defensive line help.
They released Ricky Jean Francois earlier this week and in doing so saved nearly $5 million in cap space, but at the same time they lost a solid defensive lineman. With Cory Redding contemplating retirement and due to become a free agent at the same time, along with Fili Moala (UFA) and Jeris Pendleton (RFA) due to become free agents as well, here are the current defensive lineman under contract for the Colts in 2015: Gannon Conway, Montori Hughes, Arthur Jones, Kelcy Quarles, Josh Chapman, and Zach Kerr. Out of that group, there are quite a few solid depth guys that have value, but hardly any starting-caliber lineman, with the only one being Arthur Jones. It's clear the Colts are going to have to make some moves along the defensive line before the 2015 season begins.
"Football's won in the trenches," general manager Ryan Grigson said during a press conference last week at the Combine. "Any time we start going off the reservation and start thinking we can do it this or that way, history shows no matter what the schemes start looking like, in December and January it comes down to physical football and we believe we know about that very well and we've learned some hard lessons in that respect. It's won in the trenches, so if you can bolster that defensive and offensive lines, that's why youd like 20 picks every year."
Obviously, the NFL Draft might be an area where the Colts opt to address the defensive line, and a number of analysts have predicted the team to do just that. But at the same time, if the Colts want to use some of the roughly $40 million in cap room that they will have this offseason to address the line in free agency, they'll have plenty of options - particularly on the interior of the line.
Of course, the headliner in both the defensive line free agent class and the NFL free agent class as a whole is Detroit's Ndamukong Suh, who is sure to command a huge contract. But there are a number of other intriguing names that could be options as well: Nick Fairley (Lions), Terrance Knighton (Broncos), Dan Williams (Cardinals), Jared Odrick (Dolphins), Henry Melton (Cowboys), C.J. Mosely (Lions), Corey Peters (Falcons), Stephen Paea (Bears), and others are all set to become free agents.
In short, the Colts will likely have options in free agency if they choose to go that route to address the defensive line. Of course, they're likely to give priority to Cory Redding if he chooses to come back, but signing another defensive lineman regardless might not be a bad option - but especially if Redding retires, it will become an even bigger need.
The Colts will have both free agency and the Draft to address a number of issues that they have, and we don't know which one they will use to improve the defensive line (or if they'll use a combination of both), but it's clear that the team will need to upgrade there and there are plenty of intriguing options currently set to become available in free agency.