One of the most common criticisms of the Colts' offseason so far has been that they got older. This criticism is fueled by the fact that the Colts biggest signings are all over 30 years old - Frank Gore is 31, Andre Johnson is 33, and Trent Cole is 32. And certainly, none of them will perform at a level consistent with the level they played at over the last decade.
But, as we noted a week ago, the Colts got older out of necessity. First of all, it would have been tough to get younger, considering how young they were on the offensive side of the football last year. But more importantly, the Colts are in a unique situation. Their number one overall quarterback is still playing under the rookie wage scale, while the team had plenty of cap room and a Super Bowl window right now. They had to be looking toward the future contracts for Luck and some of their other key young players, while at the same time trying to build a championship team now. So the way that the Colts went about free agency this offseason was exactly how they needed to.
Could it also be, however, that the Colts got older by design? It sounds like that's the case. Talking with NFL Network's Michael Silver, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson had some interesting comments about that very subject. When he was first hired by the Colts in 2012, Grigson's first few months on the job was spent getting much younger - cutting Peyton Manning and countless other notable veterans while drafting Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, and other rookies.
"I didn't want anyone over 28," Grigson recalled. "And then last year, I told (safety) Mike Adams, who was playing well for us, 'You know what? We might need to start signing everybody who's over 33.' I kinda got worn down by some of the youth -- some of the knuckleheads who weren't all in, who don't make the commitment. You get tired of it. Those are the guys who are gonna bring the team down. We've had guys we've had to get rid of, because they weren't with the program. You know that saying, 'People fire themselves'? It's the same thing with football teams."
These are interesting comments from the Colts' GM, as they illustrate a changing belief by Ryan Grigson about veteran players. He added a number of them this offseason, and it was definitely out of necessity - but also perhaps out of design.
As Silver notes, perhaps the Trent Richardson situation had an effect on Grigson. After all, the Colts' GM did comment on that as well, saying that, "Yeah, you beat yourself up. You put the organization in a bad position. But it won't make us gun-shy, I promise you that." But it's not just that situation - the Colts have had other young players who have gotten in trouble and could have easily become a distraction for the Colts, and it's likely that the cumulative effect of all of those players and moves (though probably most notably with Richardson) is a desire to add more veteran help.
The Colts have a very strong young core of players, but they've complemented them with solid veteran signings. It sounds like that's the way that Ryan Grigson wanted to go, and it was the perfect direction for this team to take. They got better, added veteran leaders, and became more of a legitimate Super Bowl contender while not putting the future in jeopardy.