Free agency craziness is fully upon us, and we've already heard a number of reports and rumors about the Colts being linked to a number of different players. The most notable of those players is defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh.
Last night, Yahoo Sports' Rand Getlin reported that the Colts, along with the Dolphins, are expected to make the "strongest pushes" for Suh, but today the Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder noted that questions of system-fit are giving the Colts "reason for pause" when it comes to the defensive lineman.
Also today, we've got another report of the Colts' interest in Suh, this time from Bleacher Report's Jason Cole, who says that the Colts are emerging as the top suitor for defensive linemen in free agency. More intriguing than Cole mentioning Suh, however, is the fact that Cole also mentions the Panthers' Greg Hardy as a guy who the Colts have interest in. Cole said:
"In talking with multiple sources in the agent community and throughout the NFL, the team that is emerging as the number one suitor for the biggest defensive linemen who are available, specifically Ndamukong Suh and Greg Hardy, the number one team for them is the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are going through a major upgrade on defense. They are looking to pay serious money for talent along the defensive line and throughout the defense as a whole. But the number one recruiting tool for the Colts is a player on offense, and that's quarterback Andrew Luck. In talking to those sources, they believe that Luck is the guy who does the best job of selling players on the possibility of winning championships in Indianapolis. So there's two things working here: one, the Colts are willing to pay, number two, they have a quarterback, a young quarterback, that makes them an immediate competitor, filling in the top two priorities for most players."
We've heard a lot about Suh, so while this is noteworthy due to the fact that it's another report linking Suh to the Colts, let's focus more on the report of the Colts being the top suitor for Greg Hardy as well, according to Jason Cole. In five seasons with the Panthers, Hardy has recorded 204 tackles, 34 sacks, seven forced fumbles, and 15 passes defensed. In 2012 he notched 11 sacks and in 2013 he recorded 15, but he played just one game in the 2014 season (recording a sack) due to being placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List over charges of domestic violence and assault. The charges against him were dropped earlier this year, but according to ESPN the NFL has found enough evidence to warrant a suspension. Hardy can sign a deal with another team, as he is a free agent, but that does not remove him from the exempt list and there would still be the possibility of a suspension.
If there are concerns about the system-fit for Ndamukong Suh by the Colts, there would likely be similar concerns about Hardy, who has played in a 4-3 defense for the Panthers. It would be a much smaller investment, however, which would be a big difference between the two situations. The Colts certainly need pass rush help and two years ago Hardy was among the best pass rushers in the league, so the connection between the two sides makes sense. But would the Colts be interested in signing Hardy after the charges a year ago and knowing that a possible suspension is coming? That's unknown, but according to Bleacher Report's Jason Cole, it sounds like the Colts might be emerging as the top suitor for both Hardy and Ndamukong Suh.
One more interesting thing about the report is why the Colts are such a big draw for free agents, and Cole mentions their cap space and their quarterback. Andrew Luck gives free agents confidence that the Colts can get to and win championships, while the cap space ensures that the free agents could be paid.