Along with re-signing several key players, the Colts have been aggressive this offseason, bringing in several established veterans to address key weaknesses on both sides of the ball. While some of the new players may have been overpaid, it's apparent that the Colts want to be a Super Bowl contender now rather than later.
With that in mind, let's take a look at each free-agent signing the Colts have made through the first week and set realistic expectations for each player.
D'Qwell Jackson, LB
Heading into the offseason, one of the bigger needs for the Colts was at inside linebacker, especially with Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner hitting free agency. With such a big need, the Colts decided to bring in an established veteran at the position that can also become a leader in the locker room by signing former Cleveland Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson.
At 30 years old, Jackson is starting to slow down a little bit, but that didn't keep him from racking up 141 combined tackles in 2013. But as he's gotten older, Jackson has struggled more in run defense, and considering the fact the Colts ranked 26th in run defense in 2013, this probably won't make things any easier.
Still, with Jerrell Freeman right next to him, Jackson shouldn't be a liability on the defense, and he should still be able to rack up 100-plus tackles this season.
Arthur Jones, DL
If Jackson turns out to be a liability against the run, the Colts at least have another guy that should be able to be a major asset in run defense after bringing in Arthur Jones.
During his first three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Jones was an effective defensive lineman, recording 120 combined tackles, 8.5 sacks and a forced fumble. In 2013, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Jones was the 12th-best 3-4 defensive end in the league, mostly because of his effectiveness against the run.
Jones will be a big upgrade in the middle of the defense. The Colts may have given up 125.1 rushing yards per game last year, but that number should go down with Jones on the defensive line.
Phil Costa, C/OG
The Colts finally decided to let go of Samson Satele this offseason, releasing him to avoid paying the $4 million he was due in 2014, according to Pro Football Talk. While Colts fans were mostly pleased with the news, cutting Satele left the team without a true option at center, with the possible exception of Khaled Holmes.
In order to at least have another option on the inside of the offensive line, the Colts brought in former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Phil Costa. At 26 years old, Costa was signed by Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2010, but eventually became the starter in 2011, playing in all 16 games.
While not the biggest center, Costa still helped protect Tony Romo in 2011 as the Dallas quarterback went on to post a career-best passer rating of 102.5, throwing for 4,184 yards, 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Costa will have a chance to compete for the starting job at center against Holmes, but the Colts should also think about drafting a center early in the draft just in case. Still, considering how Satele played the past couple of seasons, it's hard to not consider Costa an upgrade if he indeed does become the starter.
Hakeem Nicks, WR
T.Y. Hilton has emerged as one of the better wide receiver in the NFL over the past two seasons, but there was still a concern about depth at the position heading into the offseason. Reggie Wayne will be coming back from a torn ACL, and while Da'Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen showed flashes of potential in 2013, it is unclear if they can become long-term options at the position.
There wasn't a ton of talent in this year's free-agent class at receiver, but there were some interesting options. The Colts decided to take a bit of a risk in signing former New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks, who didn't have a single touchdown in 2013 and has been fighting through several injuries over the past couple of seasons.
The good news for the Colts is that Nicks appears to be quite healthy. According to Stephen Holder from the Indianapolis Star, Nicks passed his physical with flying colors:
If he can stay healthy, Nicks could be a great addition to the offense. He brings a different set of skills than the other receivers on the roster while also giving Andrew Luck yet another weapon to work with in 2014.
Realistically, you can expect Nicks to catch at least 50 passes for 700 yards and four touchdowns, but those numbers could be bigger if Pep Hamilton likes what he sees and decides to plan his offense more around the 26-year-old receiver out of North Carolina.
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