The Colts currently have twelve players whose contracts are due to expire at 4:00 p.m. on March 10, signifying both the start of the new league year and the beginning of free agency. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has already been re-signed by the team, but there are likely others to come. We've looked at each case individually and looked at which of the players you think the team should re-sign, but now let's rank them in terms of importance for the Colts. Here are our free agent rankings for the players currently on the Colts roster set to become unrestricted free agents, broken up by category.
Not Worth Re-Signing
He was the Colts' fourth cornerback in 2014, but he did not play well in the role. Rather than upgrading their top trio of corners, the Colts should focus on upgrading their fourth cornerback spot.
Good Role Player at the Right Price
The Colts need defensive line help and Moala has proven to be a reliable backup in the past. He's coming off of a torn ACL that forced him to miss the 2014 season, but for the right price he would be a nice addition to compete for a spot in training camp and give the team some depth along the defensive line.
He's at number 10 on this list because he's not a great safety and won't factor into the starting competition there, but in the role that the Colts had him playing in 2014, he did well. As a special teams guy and depth defensive back, Anderson impressed and he would be worth bringing back in that role.
Reggie is different from everybody on this list because it's not so much of a decision about whether to re-sign him as it is whether he will retire or not. If he chooses to return for another season, he'll be a Colt for another season. And he still has value as a third/fourth wide receiver in a situational slot receiver role if he's healthy, and that's likely what he'd come back to do if he chooses to return.
If he could stay on the field consistently, Ahmad Bradshaw would be close to the top of this list, if not number one. When he's healthy, he's a great back all-around. But he has trouble staying healthy, and that's why he's at number eight - he's worth bringing back at the right price, but there's no guarantee that he will stay healthy.
You could probably switch Nicks, Bradshaw, and Reggie on this list and it wouldn't make a big difference, but Nicks is here because the Colts need receiver help. He wasn't great in 2014, but in the right role and for the right price he wouldn't be a bad player to bring back - especially if Reggie Wayne retires.
Not the best or most talented on this list, Andy Studebaker is a player that the Colts should re-sign because he excels in the role they ask him to play. He's a very good special teams player and more than holds his own at linebacker when the Colts ask him to play there.
Arguably one of the most underrated players on the Colts, Reitz can step in and play almost anywhere along the line and do well. When he played at right tackle in the playoffs it was the best play at the position the Colts got all year, and Reitz also played elsewhere along the line. He won't be an every-game starter, but he's a valuable and versatile depth lineman and spot-starter.
The Colts need safety help. That's why Sergio Brown checks in at number four on our list, as he is a solid safety option who also can contribute with great special teams play. He showed that he can more than hold his own as a starting safety in 2013 and bringing him back would at the very least provide depth at the position and special teams help, and at the most would provide competition and perhaps a starting safety.
The Colts currently have just one player who should be a legitimate starting option for their defensive line next year, and that's Arthur Jones. The real question with Cory Redding is whether he will decide to retire or come back, but he's a player that the Colts need to bring back to help along the defensive line as they look to improve that area. Redding can still play at a high level and can be a good player and a great veteran leader for this defense.
I almost listed the first two players on this list as "1A" and "1B" because they're very close in importance. Mike Adams had a Pro Bowl season a year ago and was very impressive. The Colts currently don't have either of their starting safeties for 2015 under contract, and bringing back Mike Adams would at least give them one starting safety while they look for the other one.
Number one on our list, and by a close margin, is Darius Butler. It's not easy to find a guy who can play great football as a slot cornerback, so the fact that the Colts have such a player in Butler should not be taken for granted. He provides a great help to the secondary and should absolutely be brought back for 2015 and beyond.
What do you think of our list? Agree? Disagree? Discuss in the comments!