The Complete Guide to the Indianapolis Colts Free Agency

Hayley the Model Sports FanContributor IIIMarch 7, 2013

The Complete Guide to the Indianapolis Colts Free Agency

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    With the date of March 12th quickly approaching, the rumours are picking up pace. Free agency is one of the most exciting times for football fans. It is an especially exciting time for Indy fans, as the Colts have a lot of money to potentially spend in free agency.

    There are a lot of big names on the market, and the Colts have a lot of spaces to fill.

    This guide will help sort out what the Colts position is going into free agency.

Cap

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    The Colts are the luckiest team in the league when it comes to cap space. General manager Ryan Grigson has the most money in cap space to spend. The cap space number, as reported by Spotrac.com, for 2013 is $78,720,718.

    There is about $44 million in cap space available for spending, as only the top 51 players count against the cap in the offseason.

    Grigson has dropped the injury-prone veteran players with hefty contracts. This has allowed him to free up a lot of space to help rebuild the young team. He has a lot of holes to fill and will be active in free agency.

    He will most likely start with a new left tackle, cornerback and/or a pass rusher to fill Dwight Freeney’s spot. 

UFAs and RFAs

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    There are about 22 free agents currently on the Colts roster. These free agents are split into three categories: unrestricted free agents, exclusive rights free agents and restricted free agents.

    They are as follows:

    Donnie Avery

    UFA

    Darius Butler

    UFA

    Austin Collie

    UFA

    A.J. Edds

    ERFA

    Moise Fokou

    UFA

    Dwight Freeney

    UFA

    Josh Gordy

    RFA

    Tony Hills

    UFA

    Antonio Johnson

    UFA

    Winston Justice

    UFA

    Deji Karim

    RFA

    Jeff Linkenbach

    RFA

    Patrick McAfee

    UFA

    Fili Moala

    UFA

    Mewelde Moore

    UFA

    Seth Olsen

    RFA

    Jerraud Powers

    UFA

    Joe Reitz

    RFA

    Drew Stanton

    UFA

    Martin Tevaseu

    ERFA

    Cassius Vaughn

    RFA

    Jamaal Westerman

    UFA

     

    Some of these players have already been released (Austin Collie and Dwight Freeney), while others have their future with the Colts secured (Pat McAfee).

    There are also those who need to be re-signed by the Colts. 

    For example, Darius Butler must be re-signed. Butler had four interceptions and two touchdowns last season. Additionally, Jerraud Powers is a possible good player to re-sign. He had some issues but showed signs of learning the Colts system. Apparently he is the next player that Chuck Pagano wants to retain.

    Moise Fokou, the linebacker, would also be a solid player to keep. He showed talent in passing situations and on special teams. 

    Finally, although Avery is a big name for the Colts; his re-signing is not a priority. He had the worst drop-pass record for the 2012 season and is not a rookie like T.Y. Hilton was. The only real place we saw Avery show talent was in running deep to stretch the defense. However, this does not fit the new offensive scheme that Pep Hamilton is going to introduce.

    Despite all this, Hamilton appears to want to re-sign him.

Franchise Tag

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    The Colts have placed their franchise tag on punter Pat McAfee. McAfee will receive $2.977 million if he doesn’t reach a long-term contract with the Colts this season.

    This has got to be a big relief for the Colts. McAfee is a very talented young man. He finished fifth in the NFL for gross punting average for the 2012 season. Additionally, he set a franchise single-season record for punting average (48.2), 50.0-yard average games (five), net punting average (40.3) and tied for punts inside the 20-yard line (26).

    He also handles the kickoffs for the Colts and has expressed interest in becoming a kicker for the Colts. 

Re-Signed Players

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    Out of the 20-plus free agents, the Colts have retained only a couple, so far.

    Other than the franchise tag being placed on Pat McAfee, defensive end Fili Moala was signed to a one-year deal. He is currently on the mend from a knee injury, but he did well under the 3-4 scheme of last season. He has promise as a player and was important for the Colts to retain.

    There will most likely be more players re-signed in the coming days.

    Hamilton and Pagano have both hinted at several players that they want to retain

Team Needs

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    The Colts have a lot of needs, which is okay, because they have a lot of money to spend.

    The most important place to spend money first is the offensive line. They need a new offensive tackle and guard.

    The team’s biggest priority has to be protecting Luck. Luck dropped back and was rushed far too much in the previous season. The Colts need to target a player who can be better than Mike McGlynn.

    Additionally, the Colts need a new cornerback. The current roster of cornerbacks shows the Colts have need for a depth guy. It wouldn’t be the craziest thing if Pagano pursues Cary Williams.

    The last big need is a new outside linebacker to fill the space Freeney left.  Anthony Spencer would have been nice, but there are other players the Colts can target. 

Targets by Position: Outside Linebacker, Paul Kruger

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    The Colts have the money to spend on a splashy free agent.

    Let it be Paul Kruger.

    The Colts need to replace rush linebacker Dwight Freeney, and Kruger could be the right man for the job.

    The Ravens are having cap issues, and Kruger could fall through the cracks due to the massive contract Joe Flacco received and Anquan Boldin’s contract restructuring. Kruger is good—really good. He has the sixth-best grade of any 3-4 rush linebacker in the league and had the highest productivity at that position last year. 

    The Colts are going to need help securing a player to rush quarterbacks, and Kruger could be the right man for the job.

Targets by Position: Guard, Louis Vasquez

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    As it was already stated, the Colts need a new guard. 

    The San Diego Chargers guard Louis Vasquez would be a nice addition for the Colts at this position. Vasquez is one of the best guards in the league and is still very young.

    Of course, the Chargers have to be willing to let him go.

    Both Vasquez and Andy Levitre are the best guards who may be on the market this offseason. This means he will be fairly expensive, but once again, the Colts can afford it.

    Additionally, the Colts have several old coaches from the Chargers on their staff. This may serve as a reason to get Vasquez to sign—well, other than the money.

    There are rumours that the Colts are already interested in Vasquez.

Targets by Position: Cornerback, Cary Williams

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    The Colts need a new cornerback. They need depth at the position and a strong No. 2; they have enough nickel corners. The draft is fairly deep enough at this position, but the Colts have the money and their eyes on Cary Williams.

    The Colts raiding the Ravens for players makes complete sense. The Ravens are going to have cap issues, and Pagano was the Ravens defensive coordinator in 2011. Pagano knows what Williams can do on the field. He would also pair nicely with Vontae Davis. Williams is also fairly expendable, as the Ravens have lots of talent in the secondary. 

    However, Williams may be demanding more than he is worth. If this happens, the draft would be a better place to pick up a player at this position. Williams did lose a lot of guys in coverage this past season. His saving grace is that he can make up for it in big plays. 

Gets by Position: Offensive Tackle, Vollmer or Winston

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    The Colts lack a reliable starter behind Anthony Castonzo at left tackle.

    Winston Justice is a free agent this offseason, and the Colts will most likely not re-sign him.  Justice suffered a lot of injuries this past season and did not show enough talent to stay.

    Branden Albert would have been perfect for this position, but he has received the franchise tag.

    Sebastian Vollmer to the Colts is a bit of a dream. He is without a doubt the best tackle hitting the market. There has to be some concern with injury, due to his 2011 season. At 28, it seems he is already showing durability issues.

    The Colts' money may be better spent on someone like Eric Winston. Winston was cut by the Chiefs to free up some cap space. He is very talented—but once again, he will be expensive.