Buying or Selling Latest Free-Agent Buzz Surrounding Colts
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It's only February, and free agency won't start for over a month, but that is not going to stop the rumors from flying around.
The free agency promises to be a fast and furious time for the Colts, who sit on a reported $46 million in cap space for 2013. It's the most amount of cash the Colts have had to spend in years, as their top five salaries for 2013 currently total to less than $33 million.
With so few top-heavy contracts, it's the perfect time for the Colts to add a few big-name free agents, and it seems like Ryan Grigson is ready and willing to spend.
Although there have been few rumors this early in the offseason, the Colts have been subject to a couple, as well as the general assumption that a few positions will be addressed, per Michael Marot:
Grigson declined to identify specific plans, players or areas he hopes to improve in free agency though it is widely believed the two areas Indy will try to upgrade are the offensive line, which allowed 41 sacks, and a secondary that continually gave up 100-yard games to receivers throughout the second half of the season.
With that in mind, who has been targeted with the most discussion so far this offseason, and do they really have a chance to be a Colt in 2013?
Freeney isn't a perfect fit in the current scheme, but still is a force to be reckoned with.
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It's been assumed for most of the season that this would be Dwight Freeney's last season as a Colt. With a scheme change from a 4-3 to a 3-4, Freeney was a square peg in a round hole, and his huge contract for 2012 had some thinking he would even be cut or traded prior to the season.
But Freeney made it through, even being effective toward the end of the season, and now it sounds like things may be moving toward a re-signing in Indianapolis. Freeney has expressed a desire to stay in Indy, and the Colts may actually be considering it.
Sell: With one aging pass rusher at outside linebacker already signed to a fairly large contract, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me to re-sign another one who doesn't fit the scheme very well.
I would much rather see the Colts move Robert Mathis to the rush OLB spot, and sign another linebacker (Paul Kruger or Anthony Spencer come to mind) to fill in at the SOLB spot, or look for one in the draft.
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With Ed Reed possibly not being re-signed in Baltimore, some have speculated that the Colts could be a possible landing spot.
To be completely transparent in this, Reed is not my first choice at safety. That would be Jairus Byrd. Reed's also not my second choice. That would be Johnathan Cyprien.
Reed doesn't have near the speed or reaction time that he once did, making him a temporary stopgap at safety at best.
However, he still managed five interceptions and seven pass deflections, and would certainly command more respect from opposing quarterbacks than Joe Lefeged and Tom Zbikowski did in 2012.
Add in the plethora of connections to people in Indianapolis, and you have a decent shot at this panning out.
Buy: Unless Jairus Byrd hits the market, Reed looks to be the most likely option in the free-agent market at safety. With a desire to reconnect with old roommate Reggie Wayne, old coach Chuck Pagano other ex-Ravens, Reed very well could end up in Naptown for a slightly discounted price.
If anything does hold back the marriage, it will almost certainly be the contract, which Indianapolis won't be willing to do for a long-term deal.
Spencer very well may be the most coveted free agent for the 2013 Colts.
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Of all of the edge defenders entering free agency this offseason, Anthony Spencer is easily in the discussion for most talented. ProFootballFocus has him as their top 3-4 OLB/4-3 DE in this year's free agency, and for good reason.
Spencer was a very capable pass rusher all season opposite DeMarcus Ware, being one of the top edge rushers in quarterback pressures per snap throughout the season. But where Spencer really excelled was stopping the run—something that the Colts were abysmal at in 2012, finishing dead last in run defense DVOA.
By adding Spencer opposite Robert Mathis, the Colts would immediately upgrade their defense exponentially, giving them an additional pass rusher as well as a standout run defender in their ever-improving 3-4 defense.
Buy: The Colts have room to sign a couple big contracts, and Spencer is one that just makes sense on all levels. Spencer also has connections to the Colts, as an Indiana native and former Purdue player. Unless his contract demands reach ridiculous levels, the Colts should be able to sign him, and possibly front load it a little so they're not handcuffed in the future.
Is "Pac-man" Jones the answer for the Colts at cornerback?
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Adam "Pac-Man" Jones wasn't discussed much in regards to the Colts until this past week, when Pro Football Focus suggested him as the answer to the Colts' cornerback woes.
Jones had a very good year as a nickel corner, staying out of the news and quietly racking up seven pass deflections in just over 600 snaps. Jones finished sixth among all corners in PFF's pass coverage grades, and is a prime contender for a pay raise.
But the Colts don't need a slot corner, not if they re-sign Darius Butler (for what surely would be less money). They need a starter, somebody who can fill the void opposite Vontae Davis.
Can Jones fill that role again? I'm not convinced that he can. He was decidedly worse as a starter last year, and this past season was his first ever playing in all 16 games.
Sell: Yes, the Colts need depth in the corner spot, but Jones is going to want to start in 2013, and want starter money. With his background and questions whether he can handle another starting gig right now, there are better options for a starting corner.
The Bills can't pay both Jarius Byrd and Andy Levitre, and the Colts very well could pick up the leftovers.
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Adam Levitre is the cream of the offensive guard crop in free agency this offseason, and he very well could hit the open market.
The Bills have two very big-name free agents in 2013, with G Andy Levitre and S Jairus Byrd both hitting the end of their contracts. The Bills have looked at opening talks for a contract extension with Byrd in the past, but to no avail.
Based on the feeling coming out of Buffalo, it seems most likely that the Bills will use the franchise tag on Byrd if no contract can be met. If that happens, Levitre likely would hit the open market.
Only the Bengals and Browns have more cap room than the Colts, and neither team is hurting severely on the offensive line. The Colts, on the other hand, are looking desperate for talent on the interior line, and Levitre is the far and away the best available talent. I'm not the only one that thinks he'd be a good fix for the future of the Colts' offensive line.
Buy: As long as Levitre hits the open market, you have to like the Colts' chances of landing him. He's a great guard in the prime of his career, and the Colts have the need and the money to pick him up.