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What I would do in Veteran Free Agency if I were Colts GM Ryan Grigson

In the first part of this series, Stampede Blue's Stephen Reed let Colts nation know what he would do with the Colts free agents. In this part, he'll take a swing at what the team should do in veteran free agency.

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In this part of the series, we'll speculate as to who the Colts should sign and about how much each would cost. We'll also work off the numbers provided by Over The Cap, which puts the Colts at about $39 million in cap space prior to cutting Trent Richardson or potentially Donald Thomas. Now taking into account the money to be allotted to the draft class and the likely cap space they retain in case of injury, for the sake of this article, we'll assume the Colts have an even $30 million to spend on veteran free agents. With all that being said, let's get to the fun stuff.

Top Targets

  • Devin McCourty - FS
    This is the most obvious target for the Colts. They have no safety depth on the current roster and desperately need a proven playmaker on the back end. McCourty would instantly improve the secondary and his presence may inadvertently lead to less penalties against Greg Toler, since he'll have better help over the top. He'll be costly but to me, it'll be worth it.
    Predicted Contract - $8.5M average cap hit
  • Orlando Franklin - OG/OT
    Many would rather the Colts sign 49ers FA OG Mike Iupati but it can't be ignored how incredibly bad he's been in pass protection. Iupati would also likely command a much higher average salary that Franklin may. Franklin would be a drastic upgrade on the interior and could slide outside in case Cherilus doesn't return to form. 
    Projected Contract - $6.5M average cap hit
  • Terrance Knighton - NT
    First, how could you not want a NT nicknamed "Pot Roast" on your team? Second, he makes sense. He's a huge body who can man the middle and still apply pressure on the QB. The alternative, aka Suh, will likely cost three times as much, is only a year younger and may be a harder transition to 3-4 NT. 
    Projected Contract - $6M average cap hit
  • Jared Odrick - DE
    Odrick is an under the radar guy that just screams like a Grigson signing. He's shown potential and is in line to get paid but has been overlooked in free agency by most thus far. He's still a moderately young player who could come in and fill the void if Redding isn't resigned.
    Projected Contract - $5M average cap hit
  • Andre Johnson - WR
    While I understand Johnson hasn't officially been released, he'd be my top target for the Colts to add as a veteran WR now that Reggie Wayne officially won't be back. He's a very productive WR despite having some of the worst QB play through the majority of his career. 
    Projected Contract - $4M average cap hit

This doesn't exactly solve all the problems the Colts have and these five guys would take up the entirety of the available cap space, assuming there aren't any other cuts, which we all know there will be.

Realistically, it's incredibly unlikely all of these guys are signed by the Colts, so here's a list of "second tier" free agents I would target if I were Grigson that combined with a guy or two from the above list would significantly upgrade the roster.

Free Agency Back Up Plans

  • Vince Wilfork - NT/DE
    Colts fans know Wilfork all too well. He likely won't command the salary he once did and has been on the decline in production over the past few seasons. However, he'd be a great leader on the DL and would help replace the potential loss of Redding.
    Projected Contract - $5M average cap hit
  • Jabaal Sheard - DE/OLB
    Sheard is a lesser known FA since he played in Cleveland. While I know the Browns pipeline hasn't always worked out for the Colts in the past, Sheard would be an upgrade over Walden and Werner as a strong side OLB. He did have a foot injury at the end of last season, which could drive down his salary.
    Projected Contract - $4.5M average cap hit
  • Derrick Morgan - DE/OLB
    Morgan isn't great against the run but he could be an excited pass rusher for the Colts in years to come. He probably won't cost as much as other OLBs but could be a very productive player in the Colts 3-4.
    Projected Contract - $4M average cap hit
  • Todd Herremanns - OG
    The Colts have already brought in Herremanns for a visit. He had a solid career in Philadelphia. Herremanns is on the downside of his career but would be an experienced upgrade at OG.
    Projected Contract - $2M average cap hit
  • Da'Norris Searcy - S
    Buffalo's other safety who came in and took over for Jarius Byrd. He played well in all aspects and would be an upgrade over the current options.
    Projected Contract - $4M average cap hit
  • Haloti Ngata - NT
    Ngata hasn't been released yet but would be an instant upgrade over Chapman, despite his age. He may even take a little less than market value to return to play with Pagano. 
    Projected Contract - $6M average cap hit

Now that we've been over the players I'd look to bring in, here's a list of guys I would avoid like the plague.

Potential Free Agent Whiffs

  • Pernell McPhee - DE/OLB
    McPhee to me is a test for Ryan Grigson. He was a spot starter who excelled as a back up but will likely command a large contract. Sound familitar? I think McPhee has shown more promise than RJF ever did but he'd likely have a pretty hefty price tag as well, similar to Paul Kruger.
    Projected Contract - $9M average cap hit
  • Ndamakong Suh - DT
    It's fairly obvious why Suh doesn't fit in Indy despite his transcendent talent. First, he's not a great scheme fit. Second, he'd likely command an average salary of $17M per year. For me, I'd prefer to sign McCourty, Franklin and others to help the team rather than sign one player who will need to make a transition to 3-4 DE. 
    Projected Contract - $17M average cap hit
  • DeMarco Murray - RB
    Murray has been linked to the Colts by several sources but I wouldn't take the risk. Murray has been injured in the past and was significantly less effective as the year progressed last season despite playing behind the best offensive line in the NFL. The Colts offensive line isn't as terrible as we all say it is but Murray will take significantly more hits and more closer to the line of scrimmage than what he did in Dallas.
    Projected Contract - $9M average cap hit
  • Mike Iupati - OG
    This could be my least popular addition to this list. Yes, Iupati is the best power running OG in this free agent class. However, he's beyond terrible at pass protection. What has been fans' biggest complaint over the past three years? Andrew Luck is getting hit too much. Iupati doesn't help rectify that problem.
    Projected Contract - $8M average cap hit
  • Torrey Smith - WR
    Smith hasn't been linked to the Colts just yet but they are obviously in the market for a veteran WR at this point. Smith is the definition of a one trick pony. He goes long. Flacco threw it up. Smith either caught it or got a pass interference call, usually it was the latter. He's not a great route running and there's been no reports he's great at helping younger players. He's a guy I'd avoid/.
    Projected Contract - $10M average cap hit


All in all, the Colts again have a plethora of options in terms of who they can bring in to help improve the team. Grigson hasn't been all that great at veteran free agency in the past but hopefully he's learned from his mistakes. He's shown he has by cutting Landry and RJF, but he needs to show that he can hit in free agency rather than just overpay and cut the guys two years later. Here's hoping for a more productive off-season.

As always, follow me on Twitter, @Reed_StephenT, or post a comment and let me know what you think.