Colts Free Agency Tracker: Updated Signings, Rumors and Grades

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IMarch 12, 2013

Colts Free Agency Tracker: Updated Signings, Rumors and Grades

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    Fresh off a surprising trip to the playoffs in 2012, the Indianapolis Colts can approach the start of the NFL's free agency period Tuesday with one of the league's most ideal cap situations. 

    According to Spotrac, the Colts will enter free agency with $42.7 million in cap space, which ranks Indianapolis among the NFL's most cash-happy teams this offseason. 

    Such obvious cap space should allow the Colts to be one of the more aggressive teams. But just how will Indianapolis end up spending all that free money? 

    Stick here for all the latest rumors, reports and signings from the Colts during free agency. We'll be updating this slider with all the new free-agent information in real-time and grading each of the new additions. 

Latest Rumors and Reports

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    March 15: Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Colts are still in play for free-agent safety Ed Reed, who played under head coach Chuck Pagano in Baltimore

    March 15: According to Tom Curran, the New England Patriots are hosting former Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney on a visit.

    March 12: According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, free agent safety LaRon Landry will visit the Colts. 

    March 12: Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that the Colts have interest in free-agent offensive tackle Jake Long (via George Bremer). Rapoport later mentioned the Colts' interest in defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois, who make a series of visits before selecting his next team.

    March 12: Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun is hearing that there's a "good chance" free agent Cliff Arvil goes to the Colts. 

    March 11: According to Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star, the Colts have not expressed an interest in free-agent receiver Greg Jennings, despite reports to the contrary. 

    March 10: Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that a bidding war for free-agent pass-rusher Paul Kruger is expected between the Colts and Cleveland Browns

    March 9: Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Colts are one team chasing free-agent guards Andy Levitre and Louis Vasquez. Both the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills are also mentioned. 

    March 8: Aaron Wilson (also of reports that the Colts would be expected to pursue free-agent outside linebacker Antwan Barnes if they miss out on Kruger. 

    March 3: Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun expects the Colts to pursue free-agent cornerback Cary Williams, who played under head coach Chuck Pagano in Baltimore. 

Free Agent Re-Signings/Additions

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    DL Aubrayo Franklin: Agreed to a deal, per Adam Caplan.

    QB Matt Hasselbeck: Signed to a two-year, $8 million deal, per Mike Chappell.

    DL Ricky Jean-Francois: Signed to a four-year, $22 million deal, via Adam Caplan. 

    S LaRon Landry: Signed to a four-year, $24 million deal, via Jason La Canfora

    CB Darius Butler: Re-signed to a two-year deal, via Pro Football Talk

    OLB Lawrence Sidbury: Reached an agreement in principle, via Colts' official site

    G Donald Thomas: Signed to a four-year, $14 million deal, via ESPN's Field Yates.

    LB Erik Walden: Reached an agreement in principle on a four-year deal worth $16 million, via Colts' official site.

    CB Greg Toler: Reached an agreement on a three-year, $15 million deal, via Colts' official site. 

    OT Godser Cherilus: Reached agreement on a five-year deal worth $34 million, per Adam Schefter

    DE Fili Moala: Re-signed to a one-year deal, worth $850,000, per Mike Chappell.

    P Pat McAfee: Franchise-tagged for $2.97 million, per Pro Football Talk

    CB Cassius Vaughn: Tendered at $1.32 million, or original-round RFA tender, per Paul Kuharsky

    G Jeff Linkenbach: Tendered at $1.32 million, original-round RFA tender, per Paul Kuharsky

Free Agent Subtractions

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    S Tom Zbikowski: The Colts released the veteran safety Friday, per Chris Burke

    WR Donnie Avery: Agreed on a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, per Adam Schefter.

    QB Drew Stanton: Agreed to a three-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals, per Kent Somers.

    CB Jerraud Powers: Agreed to a deal with the Arizona Cardinals, per Kent Somers

    LB Moise Fokou: Agreed to a two-year deal with the Tennessee Titans, per Jim Wyatt

Colts Sign OT Gosder Cherilus

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    The Colts went into free agency with a clear need along the offensive line, and the team's first big splash on the open market should go a long ways in helping keep Andrew Luck on his feet next season. 

    While on the mend from knee surgery this offseason, Cherilus put together his best season as a professional in 2012. Pro Football Focus graded Cherilus as their second-best right tackle and ninth-best overall tackle last season. 

    Injuries in Cherilus' past are a concern, and $10 million guaranteed is a sizable chunk of change, but credit the Colts for getting aggressive in fixing the offensive line. If the still-improving right tackle can build on his 2012 season, this deal will look very solid next fall. 

    Grade: B

Colts Sign CB Greg Toler

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    Despite playing only 308 snaps, Toler graded out as the Cardinals' best coverage cornerback last season. He'll now head to Indianapolis, where help in the secondary was (and still remains) a much-needed asset. 

    While the 28-year-old cornerback may not be a savior for the Colts, his addition could be a big step in the right direction, especially if he can stay healthy. Toler missed all of the 2011 season with a torn ACL, but when on the field, he can be a difference-maker. 

    Last season, quarterbacks completed just 41.5 percent of throws at Toler, and his opposing passer rating of 51.5 led all Cardinals cornerbacks. 

    The money will determine a part of the eventual final grade for this deal, but it would be hard to argue that the Colts didn't get better by adding Toler.

    UPDATE: Toler signed a three-year deal worth $15 million. Probably a richer deal than Indy would have liked, but if he's a starter next season (and the Colts expect him to be), five million a year isn't bad.

    Grade: B+

Colts Sign OLB Erik Walden

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    Given Walden's numbers of four years and $16 million, the Colts probably made one of the day's first overpays. 

    While the deal is likely backloaded—leaving the Colts with a clear out one or two years in—Walden is far from a $16 million player, no matter how you slice it up. 

    Pro Football Focus has graded Walden as the NFL's worst 3-4 linebacker in back-to-back seasons, and that was playing opposite Clay Matthews in Green Bay. Walden struggles against the run and is very limiting in rushing the passer. 

    If the Colts are expecting Walden to start opposite Robert Mathis—and the money appears as if they are—this deal was a big mistake. 

    A backup player at best, Walden simply isn't worth $16 million—and he isn't a starting-quality player on a good defense. 

    Grade: D

Colts Sign OL Donald Thomas

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    Cherilus is a top right tackle, but getting Thomas on the cheap might have been the Colts best deal of the first day. 

    As both a left and right guard for the Patriots last season, Thomas was solid as a run-blocker and plenty capable in the passing game. He started seven games and probably should have started more. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, Thomas graded out at a plus-10.4 in 2012. 

    The Colts, who need help on the inside, will value his ability to play all three interior line positions. And at just $14 million over four years, Indianapolis can feel very confident in the financials of acquiring an immediate starter. 

    Grade: A-

Colts Re-Sign CB Darius Butler

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    Butler's two-year deal to remain in Indianapolis didn't dominate the headlines, but this might have been one of the smarter re-signings of the early free agency period. 

    A former second-round bust in New England, Butler rebounded with the Colts in 2012.

    Not only did Butler intercept four passes as a slot cornerback last season, but he was a sticky cover man, too. According to Pro Football Focus, Butler allowed a completion percentage of just 55.8, while also limiting quarterbacks to a pedestrian passer rating of 49.8 against him last season.

    The move solidifies a weak point for Indy last season. 

    In Butler, Greg Toler and Vontae Davis, the Colts have a very sound trio of cornerbacks for 2013 (adding LaRon Landry to that mix in the secondary helps, too). All three received positive pass coverage grades from PFF. 

    Unless the Colts had to break the bank on the two-year deal (very unlikely), this was a very smart move. 

    Grade: A-

Colts Sign S LaRon Landry

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    Four years and $24 million is quite a haul for Landry, who signed on with the Jets last offseason for just a single year. In his one season in New York, the physical safety obviously showed enough to warrant a big deal with the Colts. 

    Landry is one of the league's big hitters, and he's athletic enough to hold his own in coverage. However, it's worth mentioning that Pro Football Focus rated Landry as their 65th best safety last season, so not everyone is sold on his bounce-back year.

    And while Landry did play 16 games in 2012, he has a lengthy injury history that includes nagging problems with his Achilles. 

    That said, the Colts have unquestionably improved at safety, and maybe that's more important than the money here. Adding Landry to a secondary that also re-signed Darius Butler and snagged Greg Toler has the opportunity to improve considerably in 2013.

    Grade: B

Colts Sign DL Ricky Jean-Francois

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    Another egregious overpay from the Colts? This one kind of looks that way. 

    Jean-Francois, a backup for the San Francisco 49ers who has yet to play 350 or more snaps in a given season, was handed a whopping $5.5 million a year over four seasons to come to Indy.

    The Colts obviously see versatility and untapped talent in Jean-Francois. That's understandable, given his ability to play all three spots in a three-man front and the fact that he played on a talented defensive line in San Francisco. 

    But $22 million over four years? That's quite the pay day for the former seventh-round pick. 

    The Colts have clearly made upgrading the defense a priority in free agency, but they've spent a boatload of money on some mostly average players. Will $38 million to Jean-Francois and Erik Walden make Indy's defense considerably better in 2013? 

    Grade: D+

Colts Sign QB Matt Hasselbeck

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    Two years and $8 million might seem like a steep price, but Indianapolis getting the veteran Hasselbeck to backup Andrew Luck was genius.

    Hasselbeck solves an immediate need at quarterback behind Luck, and he also brings 14 years of NFL experience and wisdom to share with one of the game's ascending quarterbacks.

    Luck had a terrific rookie season, but advancing on the mental side will only accelerate his development. Hasselbeck and his 194 career NFL starts can certainly help in that area.

    Backup quarterbacks who are 38 years old typically do not demand $4 million over two seasons, but this is a special case. The free-spending Colts can afford to pay a terrific mentor for their franchise quarterback. 

    Grade: A

Colts Sign DL Aubrayo Franklin

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    You wonder when the Colts will end their shopping spree in free agency. 

    Getting Franklin, a journeyman who has played in a new city in each of the last three years, will add to run defense that struggled mightily at times last season. He can play on the nose of Indy's still evolving 3-4 defense. 

    Franklin will turn 33 before the beginning of the 2013 season, so it's worth debating whether or not he'll even make the team. But on the cheap, Franklin is a low-risk addition who can fight for a spot in camp and potentially provide quality run-stopping depth along the defensive line. 

    Grade: C