Indianapolis Colts Final Free Agency Outlook and Predictions
Free agency is all but upon us, and the Indianapolis Colts are ready, or so we hope.
While the Colts have insisted that they won't be big players, they have a litany of cap space and holes to fill. The team's involvement in free agency will be critical, especially considering how disappointing most of last season's free agents were.
How can the Colts be successful this season, and what can we expect to actually happen? Find out in our final breakdown before free agency officially kicks off on March 11.
All cap information and contract numbers from Spotrac.com.
2014 Cap: $133,000,000
2013 Cap Rollover: $607,906
2014 Active Contracts: $91,900,144
Dead Money: $800,733
2014 Cap Room: $40,907,029
The Colts had roughly $46 million in cap space last season, and due to some intelligent contract structuring, the team once again has an excessive amount of space.
With the cap possibly reaching over $150 million in 2016, according to Adam Schefter, the team will continue to have cap space in upcoming years. Unfortunately, the team will have some important contracts to sign in 2015 and 2016 that they will need to keep in mind in their free-agent dealings.
Current Free Agents
Unrestricted Free Agents: P Pat McAfee, LB Pat Angerer, S Antoine Bethea, RB Ahmad Bradshaw, S Sergio Brown, RB Donald Brown, RB Tashard Choice, CB Vontae Davis, DT Aubrayo Franklin, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, G Jeff Linkenbach, DE Ricardo Mathews, DT Jake McDonough, G Mike McGlynn, DE Fili Moala, OLB Lawrence Sidbury, CB Cassius Vaughn, LB Kavell Conner, K Adam Vinatieri
Restricted Free Agents: CB Josh Gordy, LB Scott Lutrus, G Joe Reitz
Expected Rights Free Agents: LB Justin Hickman, LB Cam Johnson
The Colts will allow Pat Angerer to hit the market, Mike Chappell reported Wednesday. The team reportedly has a "plan in place" for Vontae Davis, who Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star reported was the Colts' first priority, but the team has not yet re-signed the corner. Holder also reported that Ahmad Bradshaw and the Colts have been in discussions as well.
Other potential re-signs include Antoine Bethea, Pat McAfee and Adam Vinatieri.
Tier 1 Needs (Starter Needed): Inside Linebacker, Safety, Center, Cornerback, Specialists
Until Vontae Davis, Antoine Bethea, Pat McAfee and Adam Vinatieri are re-signed (if they are), the Colts desperately need starters in the secondary and specialist positions.
As for inside linebacker, the Colts haven't had a legitimate starter next to Jerrell Freeman since Pat Angerer went down in the preseason last season.
Samson Satele has been a massive failure at center, and the Colts desperately need to upgrade from him if they want to take the next step offensively.
Tier 2 Needs (Long-Term Potential/Primary Depth Needed): Wide Receiver, Running Back, Guard, Defensive Line
This tier includes positions that are real needs, but not necessarily because of a gaping hole in the starting lineup.
The Colts need a long-term option at wide receiver, especially with Reggie Wayne being 35 and coming off of an ACL injury. Wayne and T.Y. Hilton are fine as starters, but the Colts need a third option, and Da'Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill have not realized their potential as of yet.
Running back and defensive line could both use depth and rotational talent. Guard was a mess last season, but the Colts are looking to get Donald Thomas back at starting left guard and Hugh Thornton still has room to develop as a starting left guard. The Colts need depth and somebody to push Thornton, but a veteran starter would be a bit overkill if they upgrade at center.
Tier 3 Needs (Secondary depth needed): Outside Linebacker
Bjoern Werner and Erik Walden were both disappointing last season, and another pass-rusher is necessary. However, the Colts need to give Werner, who was known to be a project when they drafted him, time to develop. Another depth OLB to slide behind Mathis could be a helpful addition.
Rumored Links: WR Eric Decker, LB D'Qwell Jackson, WR James Jones
Other Potential Targets: S Jairus Byrd, S T.J. Ward, C/G Evan Dietrich-Smith, C Brian De La Puente, S Chris Clemons, WR Andre Roberts, G Jon Asamoah, RB Joique Bell, LB Daryl Smith, WR Golden Tate
The Colts were linked to Eric Decker by CBS Denver's Vic Lombardi last week, and there is reportedly mutual interest.
Among the teams that have interest in Eric Decker ... Indy. If he can't play with PFM, he'd love to roll with Andrew Luck.— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) February 27, 2014
D'Qwell Jackson is reportedly choosing between the Colts and three other teams, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Robert Mathis seems to be a fan.
The Colts defense needs new members to turn up the bluheat.....maybe we should take a ride down 5200 Jackson Street........ #iTsOn— ROBERT MATHIS The1st (@RobertMathis98) March 6, 2014
James Jones has discussed his wish to play in Indianapolis, but the Colts' interest in Jones has not yet been confirmed.
CB Vontae Davis: Five years, $42 million
Is this a high price for Davis? Sure. It's also what it likely will take to keep the shutdown corner in Indianapolis. The Colts need Davis, or a corner like him, to keep their defense running properly, and they know it.
While fans are split on Davis, there are few corners in the league with his athleticism and ability to play press-man coverage without constant safety help.
LB D'Qwell Jackson: Three years, $11.5 million
Signing D'Qwell Jackson isn't a signing that gets me excited, but it's one that feels like a Grigson-type of signing. Jackson played under recent hire Rob Chudzinski in Cleveland, but hasn't played his best in a 3-4 and has slowed in recent years. He'd be an upgrade at linebacker, but not a very efficient one.
UPDATE: Jackson signed a four-year, $22 million deal with $11 million guaranteed. It's a lot more than I would have paid him.
WR James Jones: Two years, $7 million
The Colts seem set on upgrading the wide receiver position, but the team may be outbid for Eric Decker. Jones is the type of upside signing Ryan Grigson would do, as is Hakeem Nicks. But Jones should be the cheaper of the two.
To be honest, the Colts' actions in free agency have been very unexpected under Ryan Grigson. I have hard time predicting anything with certainty this early in his time in Indianapolis. The team could look very different after free agency, and it will help frame the direction the team goes in the draft. Either way, it's going to be a fast-paced, exciting time.