Bill Polian recently commented that no team will ever do what the Bills did in the early 90's: Four back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.
Polian may be right, but the Colts are primed to do something that hasn’t been done since 2005: Make back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.
The reason the Colts stand a great chance at making another Super Bowl run this season is because of the incredible amount of depth on the roster, and the talent they developed last season because of injuries.
All of a sudden rookie players became full time starters, and played well beyond anyone’s expectations.
A big factor in the Colts ability to make another run is due to the uncapped year. It is going to be a huge advantage for the Colts since their idea of free agency is to re-sign their own players. Ironically, given this fact, the rule for the final four will have no impact on them.
The Colts only have two unrestricted free agents: 1) Gary Brackett and 2) Matt Stover. Bill Polian has made it quite clear that re-signing Brackett is a priority. In fact, don’t be surprised if a deal is not worked out before the start of free agency. Whether Stover is back will depend on the health of Vinatieri, and whether the Colts are considering drafting a kicker.
The Colts also have a lot of restricted free agents to re-sign, and owner Jim Irsay’s intent to extend Manning’s contract and make him the highest paid QB in the league; however, given the rule changes the Colts could set themselves up in a great position for years to come.
By paying Manning a lot of his money this year, whether it’s in salary or a signing bonus, it would allow them to pay him less in future years when the CAP comes back. This would free up money to keep the core players together for years to come.
An uncapped year will also allow the Colts to keep all of the restricted free agents that they want to keep. This means that players like Antoine Bethea will be back next season.
When the Colts get to the draft they can finish what they started last year which is continuing Larry Coyer’s plan of getting the front seven bigger on defense. The Colts will probably pick up a couple of linebackers in the draft. Also, given Polian’s recent attack on the offensive line, and the retirement of offensive line coach Howared Mudd, the Colts will probably draft some bigger offensive lineman. This is almost a foregone conclusion when you factor in the ages of Jeff Saturday (35), and Ryan Diem (31).
With the expected return of Marlin Jackson, Anthony Gonzalez, Tyjuan Hagler, and Bob Sanders—if the Colts decide to keep him—this team will have some big-time playmakers returning, and probably the best receiving corps that Manning has had since he was drafted.
With an ever improving defense, an incredible set of targets for Manning to throw to, two very good running backs in the backfield, and a revamped offensive line, the Colts are in a strong position to be the first team to go to back-to-back Super Bowls since the Patriots did it in ’04 and ’05.
Hopefully Bill Polian is right, and the Colts don’t repeat what the Bills did in the early 90’s: Lose four Super Bowls in a row.