Since the beginning of the free-agency period, the Indianapolis Colts have signed nine new players. They went into the free-agency period with the largest amount of cap space in the league. They had a total of $44 million in cap space for the 2013 year.
Many expected the Colts to chase big names like Jake Long and Mike Wallace.
However, GM Ryan Grigson continued the tradition that Bill Polian had instilled in the Colts. This tradition is to not pursue big flashy names in free agency.
The Colts have spent $34.3 million; they still have roughly $10.181 million in cap space left to spend.
So far, these are the best and worst moves the Colts have made in free agency.
LaRon Landry signed to a four-year deal worth $24 million. Landry is a definite upgrade to any starter that the Colts had already possessed. He is better than Tom Zbikowski in both the run and the pass game. He is a tough run defender who runs a 4.3 in 40 yards. Between him and Antoine Bethea, the Colts should have a strong tandem at the safety position.
The only issue, of course, is the injury history that Landry has had in the past. Colts fans have to hope that he stays healthy this season.
Erik Walden signed with the Colts to a four-year, $16 million contract. This is by far the worst contract that the Colts signed during this free-agency period. Walden does not deserve this kind of money.
Pro Football Focus rated him as being the worst outside linebacker available. This is the second year in a row he has been given this rating. He is also rated as the worst edge-rusher who was available in free agency. He was good in 2010; he was great until his arrest for domestic dispute in 2011. Things really went downhill from there.
Yet, the Colts obviously see something that no one else sees.
The former Detroit Lions offensive tackle signed a five-year deal worth $35 million, including $16.5 million guaranteed. Gosder Cherilus was rated by Rotoworld as Detroit's best offensive lineman.
He is an intense tackle who is known for his mean streak. This type of player will be valuable in protecting Andrew Luck. Protecting Luck had to be a priority in free agency.
He is also known as being a very physical player. It is hoped he can help open up holes for the run game as well.
Ricky Jean-Francois signed a deal with the Colts worth $22 million over four years. This is a lot of money for a player that has never started. He’s played a total of 27 percent of the defensive snaps last year with a career total of 33 tackles and three sacks.
It’s not that he is being summed up as a horrible player—it’s just that he has not earned that kind of contract.
The only bright spot is that he can play all three positions on a three-position D-line.
Donald Thomas is a great new player to be suiting up for the Colts. He was a backup for the New England Patriots last season. However, the Patriots have a talent-heavy offensive line and this could be why he did not start.
Thomas started seven games, and Pro Football Focus rated him as a plus-10.2 for the 2012 season. He was also ranked as the fourth-best offensive lineman available in free agency.
His contract was a modest four-year, $14 million deal. He is a talented player at coverage as well as creating openings for the runner. He can also play both left and right tackle.
The issue with Greg Toler is injury. He missed five games last season, while he missed the entire 2011 season. He was signed to a three-year, $15 million deal. Jerraud Powers was released, and Toler is his replacement. Both players have issues with durability.
The Toler signing is not as high priced as several of the other free-agent signings; but the concerns for his health are valid.
The positive outlook is that Toler is a big physical player.
The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck signed a two-year deal with the Colts. He will act as a backup for Andrew Luck.
This is one of the best signings that the Colts have had during the free-agency period. Hasselbeck is playoff-tested and a wealth of knowledge for Luck. Luck can use a mentor on the sidelines during the season.
Additionally, it will be important for the Colts to have a reliable quarterback to sub in when needed throughout the season. Hasselbeck will most likely also play all of the preseason games.