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As franchise tag window looms, expect Colts’ free agent options to shrink

Profile Of ESPN Personality Adam Schefter Photo by Christopher Capozziello/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

According to a recent tweet by Adam Schefter, we can expect a once-deep free-agent class to look very different following the NFL's March 8th franchise/transition tag deadline. Most fans began the offseason hoping that the combination of an angry Jim Irsay and the need to finally inch his overall win/loss record away from a middle of the road .500, would push Ballard to abandon his philosophy on free agency and bring in a few true game-changers with his available cap space.

To begin the off-season, the class of free agents (outside of quarterback) appeared to be very strong. Especially in positions that have been identified as needs for the Colts. Of the top 25 free agents listed on NFL.com, twenty play WR, CB, EDGE, or LT.

Now take away the eight names listed by Schefter (T Orlando Brown wasn't listed, but has already been tagged), and suddenly that once rich list of "all chips in" players, looks very different. It is still possible Ballard is able to bring in one or two game-changing free agents, but the shrinking pool further complicates the process. Not only does he have to convince the players to join a team with major questions at quarterback, but he also has to fend off other teams looking to do the same. Without the tag, it is much easier to sit back and let the money dry up while teams overspend in bidding wars for guys like Devante Adams and Chris Godwin. Now remove those 8 names, and suddenly your bargain buys, become everyone's top target. For example, Allen Robinson moves from FA14 and WR5, to FA8 and WR1.

Might Chris Ballard take a more creative approach to Free Agency? Might Ballard prefer avoiding these bidding wars altogether and dive into the "trade for soon to be released players" pool instead? The biggest name expected to be in this pool is Amari Cooper. Why would Ballard trade for a guy that is going to be released in a matter of days? If a day 3 pick can land you a difference-maker like that of Amari Cooper, and you don't have to compete with other teams or pitch your "QB-less" offense in order to get the guy to sign, that is certainly going to have some level of appeal to a team like Indy.