Indianapolis Upgrades Defense and Offensive Line for Andrew Luck

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Indianapolis Upgrades Defense and Offensive Line for Andrew Luck
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Cherilus will protect Luck in 2013.

Ryan Grigson has apparently decided not to count on more miracles in 2013.

He took matters into his own hands as free agency kicked off. The Indianapolis Colts signed five players in the early hours of the new league year, and upgraded both the offense and defense in the process.

Of course, no signing can be judged without all the contract details, but there's little question that in terms of raw talent, the Colts are better now than they were at the end of 2012 season.

The team announced on its website that they have added tackle Gosder Cherilus and guard Donald Thomas to go with linebackers Lawrence Sidbury, Erik Walden and corner Greg Toler.

The move to secure Cherilus, a former right tackle for the Lions, is a plus as the team struggled with continuity at the position last year. Winston Justice missed four games and was mediocre even when he did play.

He'll be paired with Thomas who started at both guard positions in New England. Thomas had 21 starts over the past three seasons with the Patriots and will likely compete for an interior line position. Again, given how terrible the Colts were up front, there's every reason to believe he'll be able to win a job.

No one will confuse either player with an All-Pro, but unless the eventual contract details prove to be exorbitant, there's little chance the moves backfire. After watching Andrew Luck take more than 40 sacks, the team knows they can only go in one direction.

The defensive signings were also interesting. While details are still sketchy, Pete Prisco of CBS Sports reported Toler signed for three years and $15 million.

That's a steep price to pay for a part-time defensive back, but given the sorry state of the secondary, Grigson had to do something. Toler has battled injuries, but managed to be impressive when he did take the field. He had two picks in just over 300 snaps last year.

In the end, it's fair to wonder whether he'll be much of an upgrade of Jerraud Powers who is expected to sign elsewhere. Powers' biggest problem was injuries as well, and Toler has not been durable in his four years in the league.

The two linebackers were curious signings at best. Walden's deal was reported to be for four years and a hefty $16 million according to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Walden was graded by Pro Football Focus as the worst outside linebacker with at least 25 percent of snaps played. He has just eight sacks in 68 career games and is an early contender for the worst overall signing of the free-agent period.

To his credit, his coverage and pass-rushing skills are superior to his run-stopping ability which was abysmal. For the Colts to offer him so much cash, it's a wonder they didn't present the same offer to Dwight Freeney who was the superior player last season.

Sidbury was a backup defensive end for the Falcons who could help spell Walden and Jerry Hughes off the edge. He scarcely played in 2012, but did have four sacks in 2011. Whether or not he makes the final roster is still to be determined.

Overall, the Colts definitely improved, but given the glaring weaknesses they faced, improvement was a foregone conclusion. How effectively they negotiated the early hours of the spending season depends on the final numbers on the deals.

Of course, there are still more moves to make and plenty more cap space to burn. Before it's over, the Colts could still add three to four more potential starters for 2013.

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