Setting Odds for Indianapolis Colts Signing Their Top 6 Free Agent Targets
The Indianapolis Colts have a lot of cap space to bring in a number of free agents, but what are the odds that they bring back or bring in their top targets?
After another productive season where the Colts improved, the team now has another offseason where they must make some big signings in free agency, either by bringing back former players or bringing in new ones.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Colts have an estimated $34.6 million in cap space. While that may seem like a lot, the problem for the Colts is that they also have a lot of players who have just become free agents, and it's likely they'll be trying to bring back a select few. Still, with that much cap space, you can bet there will be some new faces via free agency as well.
With that being said, let's take a look at the odds the Colts sign or re-sign six key players this offseason.
Vontae Davis, Cornerback
The current situation at cornerback is a tricky one for the Colts, but given how thin the secondary is, priority No. 1 for this team might be bringing back Vontae Davis.
At 25 years old, Davis has shown that he's capable of playing the position at a very high level. He had a strong season in coverage, and according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he was tied with Tyrann Mathieu as the third-highest graded cornerback in the NFL.
Keep in mind that those numbers were heavily inflated by a strong game against the Denver Broncos, but at the same time, the rest of his work this season was solid. The only problem with bringing back Davis is that the contract he could be looking for is likely going to be an expensive one.
However, it appears that a deal is likely. According to Stephen Holder from the Indianapolis Star, Davis is fond of the Colts, and general manager Ryan Grigson has made it clear that re-signing Davis is a priority. Given the mutual interest, I think Davis comes back, but there's always a chance he doesn't for a number of reasons.
Adam Vinatieri/Pat McAfee, Kicker/Punter
I'm grouping Pat McAfee and Adam Vinatieri since they're both incredibly popular players in Indianapolis that the Colts will need back badly in order to have a kicker or punter.
For Vinatieri, it's clear that he's not going to be playing forever now that he's 41 years old. However, he also doesn't look like he's going to be hanging up the cleats now that the 2013 season is over. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Vinatieri says he's hoping to kick for another two or three years.
At this point in his career, I doubt Vinatieri is looking for a big contract, but he's still playing at a very high level. This past season he made 35 of his 40 field-goals attempts, including four of six from 50 yards or more and 15 of 17 from 40-49 yards.
McAfee's case is a bit different. He hasn't been selected to a Pro Bowl at this point in his career, but he's been a consistent punter that's become a local celebrity. He was franchise tagged last season, but now he'll be looking for a long-term deal that could make him one of the highest-paid punters in the NFL.
Overall, Vinatieri has the better shot at coming back, but that doesn't mean McAfee is gone. He also has some good odds of coming back, it's just a matter of whether or not the Colts are willing to pay him the big bucks.
Odds: Vinatieri, 5-1; McAfee, 7-1
Antoine Bethea, Safety
As a veteran leader of the defense, Antoine Bethea has been a popular figure in Indianapolis for some time. However, now that he's a free agent, there's no guarantee that he's back next season, especially after what happened in 2013.
While there were times Bethea played very well this past season, there were also times where he struggled, especially in the first meeting against the Houston Texans. At 29 years old, this could be a sign of age, as the shelf life for safeties isn't as long as other positions considering the amount of hits they make during their careers.
Given his age, this is Bethea's last chance to get a big contract, but is he really worth a top-dollar deal given the way he played this year? If the price is right, Bethea would be welcomed back to the team with open arms, but the odds of the two sides reaching a deal that's mutually beneficial aren't all that high unless Bethea wants to retire as a member of the Colts.
This situation will likely develop over the next couple of months, but until then, it's really up in the air as to whether or not Bethea will be back.
Alex Mack, Center
One of the areas where the Colts may decide to bring in a player via free agency is on the interior of the offensive line. Donald Thomas will be back to play offensive guard, but Mike McGlynn is now a free agent that's unlikely to be re-signed, while Hugh Thornton and Samson Satele seriously struggled at guard and center, respectively.
One name that makes a ton of sense is Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, formerly of the Cleveland Browns. While there's a chance he goes back to Cleveland, given their constant coaching changes, there's probably a better chance that he's open to offers, especially from a team that can win games.
Mack would be a huge upgrade over Satele at center. Among centers that played at least 25 percent of the team's snaps, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) had Mack as the fourth-best center, while Satele was 31st, or the fifth-worst.
Given his success this past season, Mack could be asking for a bigger deal. But the Colts have cap space, and the combination of him and a healthy Thomas could give Andrew Luck a lot more time in the pocket in 2014. And there's a good chance that's exactly what Grigson wants to work on this offseason.
Daryl Smith, Inside Linebacker
While Jerrell Freeman has been a huge asset over the past two seasons after starting his career in the CFL, the Colts still aren't set at inside linebacker. Both Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner are free agents, and Kelvin Sheppard didn't meet expectations.
If the Colts wanted to make a splash on defense, bringing in someone like Daryl Smith would be an interesting move.
Smith was a very solid linebacker in pass coverage and pass rush, which are two big needs the Colts have at the position. When opposing quarterbacks threw at Smith in 2013, they completed just 58.9 percent of their passes and has a passer rating of just 76.0, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Smith also finished the year with 123 combined tackles, three interceptions and five sacks.
While he would be a liability in run defense, Smith could be a big lift to the struggling pass rush as well as help defend the pass. However, since Smith played just one year in Baltimore, he doesn't have a connection with Chuck Pagano like some of the players on that defense do, and there's still no guarantee he leaves the Ravens, making this a bit of a stretch, although not completely impossible.