2013 NFL Free Agency Wish List for the Indianapolis Colts
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After all, they stand to have over $40 million in cap space.
Indy does have a few notable free agents they will consider re-signing before they dip into the rest of the league. Players the Colts will think about retaining include Donnie Avery, Jerraud Powers, Pat McAfee and Cassius Vaughn.
Who knows, maybe even Dwight Freeney, if they can get him at a bargain.
This isn't about those players, though. It's about something much more awesome.
Straight out of a single-player Madden franchise, this is the Colts' 2013 free agency wish list.
No. 10: Anthony Spencer, OLB
Anthony Spencer could provide a solid presence at outside linebacker.
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While many would argue that Anthony Spencer has been a bust, I would stand by agreeing with them.
He has been.
The Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker has recorded only 24.5 sacks since being drafted by the 'Boys in 2007. That just isn't good enough for a first-round pick.
In a contract season, Spencer has recorded three sacks in four games, missing two weeks with an injured pectoral.
Currently playing with the franchise tag designation, the Cowboys clearly aren't ready to commit to Spencer long term.
If the Colts can lock up this solid, if unspectacular player, they will be replacing Dwight Freeney with a hard-nosed, run-stopping OLB who has decent pass-rushing skills.
Maybe not the sexiest of pickups, but Spencer would help shore up a unit that is being gashed on the ground.
No. 9: Aqib Talib, CB
Despite his trouble, Aqib Talib is a proven playmaker.
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That could mean good things for the Colts.
Many will be upset by Talib's inclusion on this list. Maybe they should be. After all, he's had more run-ins with league and law than most NFL players who aren't on the Detroit Lions.
Nevertheless, Talib is a talented corner who could make a difference for Indy. He's only two seasons removed from a six-interception effort and recorded 16 takeaways in his first three years in the league.
He's also a man who will be facing his first reality check.
His employer will have just told him flat out: "We don't want you."
For a talent like Talib, he won't be used to that expression. How he reacts to it will shape the rest of his NFL career.
Say the Colts sign him and he rededicates himself to football. That would give them three above-average corners to play in Greg Manusky's aggressive 3-4 defense.
The possibilities are endless.
No. 8: Kenny Phillips, S
Kenny Phillips is a no-nonsense player.
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Kenny Phillips has long been the heart of the New York Giants' secondary, making it unlikely that he is even available in free agency.
Certainly less likely than the first two players on this list.
However, if he were to test the waters of free agency, he would find his services to be widely sought. He is a well-above-average talent at a position of increasing importance in the NFL.
While Indy employs the serviceable Tom Zbikowski across from Antoine Bethea, they would almost certainly pursue Phillips, if available.
The fifth-year man out of Miami will only be 26 next season.
No. 7: Wes Welker, WR
Wes Welker would add a deadly weapon to Indy's offense.
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Wes Welker needs no introduction.
Any team would be happy to have him. Any quarterback would be glad to throw it to him.
Welker would probably top this list if not for two things.
First, he is 31-year-old wide receiver who has already had one major knee surgery.
And second, Indy has got to like what they've seen out of rookie slot receiver T.Y. Hilton thus far. He's shown the ability to get open, gain yards after the catch and be the go-to guy in a given week.
Hilton is no Wes Welker, at least not yet. However, his potential makes acquiring Welker a bit less enticing.
No. 6: Glenn Dorsey, DE
Glenn Dorsey is a massive upgrade over the Colts' D-linemen.
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Another guy that definitely didn't live up to his draft billing.
Glenn Dorsey is a very solid 3-4 defensive end that could replace Fili Moala, should the Colts let him walk in free agency. He would be a major upgrade.
Indy needs to upgrade all across the D-line, and Dorsey would be a moderately-priced start. He has already missed three games this season, which may drive down the price of his upcoming contract.
Almost exclusively a run-stuffer, Indianapolis shouldn't be deterred. With the number of pass-rushers already on the team, what they really need are a few guys who can shed blocks and make tackles.
No. 5: Michael Johnson, DE/OLB
Michael Johnson has come on strong in 2012.
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At 6'7" and 270 pounds, Michael Johnson evokes images of a young Julius Peppers.
The Cincinnati Bengals defensive end is having a breakout season, recording six sacks in his first seven games. That matches a single-season high for Johnson.
While he has dominated at DE for the Bengals, his pass-rushing abilities would make him equally nightmarish as a 3-4 rush linebacker.
Given Dwight Freeney's advanced age and injury history—not to mention the salary he will likely command—it would be smart for the Colts to court a young, talented replacement for the years to come. Jerry Hughes has been decent, but he simply isn't on Johnson's level.
Unlikely the Bengals would let him get away, but hey, this is a wish list.
No. 4: Connor Barwin, OLB
Connor Barwin is being overshadowed by J.J. Watt.
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Though he's not having nearly the season he did a year ago, Connor Barwin is a player that the Colts would be lucky to have.
He recorded 11.5 sacks last season, good for ninth in the league. While he isn't much of a run-stopper, he certainly isn't a downgrade from Dwight Freeney in that department.
Barwin hasn't lived up to expectations so far this season, but that is due in part to teammate J.J. Watt's emergence as an elite pass-rusher. There are only so many sacks to go around.
With all the beatdowns the Houston Texans are handing out this season, there's little doubt that Barwin will return to form and rack up a fair number of sacks, especially with opposing offenses keying in on "Swatt."
Picking up a division rival's free agents is always added incentive.
No. 3: Ryan Clady, OT
If we can't have Manning, we'll take Clady.
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In September, ESPN blogger Jeffri Chadiha listed Clady as the fourth-most irreplaceable player in the NFL.
ESPN's Insider rankings have Clady as the fourth-best tackle in the league, behind only Jake Long, Joe Thomas and Jason Peters.
Given the uncertainty of Manning's health—what with the neck surgeries—we can only assume that Denver plans to use as much of their personnel budget as reasonably as possible to maintain the high quality of their offensive line. It starts with Clady.
It's also worth mentioning that he already turned down a $50-million extension.
That's what bargaining power looks like.
No. 2: Mike Wallace, WR
Mike Wallace is unlikely to be paid by Pittsburgh.
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After a long, drawn-out and extremely public contract dispute, Mike Wallace signed his tender. That doesn't mean he was happy about it.
Hard to see them giving up another huge contract to a wide receiver next year.
So what's next for Wallace? Do they franchise tag him? What about the year after that?
It seems most likely that the Steelers do what they can to move Wallace. However, considering he wasn't offered a contract by a single team last year—when he was a restricted free agent—it also seems unlikely that the team would get much for him.
Maybe they let him walk.
If so, the Colts absolutely must move on him. Wallace is a proven wide receiver and deep threat, the type of guy Reggie Wayne can pass the torch to when the time comes.
No. 1: Victor Cruz, WR
Indy should try to bring Victor Cruz's salsa to town.
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A virtual impossibility, but few things would make Colts fans happier.
Victor Cruz is a restricted free agent in 2013, which means a couple of things.
Any contract offered to Cruz can be matched by his current team, the New York Giants. If the Giants match, the player stays with his current club.
Also, the player will have a draft pick associated with his services. Cruz, if unsigned before free agency, will surely command a first-round tender. Any team that negotiates a contract with him that the Giants are unwilling to match would also compensate the Giants with their first-round selection.
That said, he's worth it. This is a guy who completely dominates secondaries.
I had my doubts coming into 2012. I didn't think last year was a total fluke, rather, a slight exaggeration. There's no question I expected his stats to dwindle significantly.
Then Hakeem Nicks got hurt and we were given the chance to find out if Cruz could be a legit No. 1 receiver.
In short, he's delivered. After seven weeks, Cruz is third in catches, fifth in receiving yards and tied for first in receiving touchdowns.
It's no fluke. It's no exaggeration.
Victor Cruz can salsa like nobody's business.