Since the playoffs are still a month away and the seeding picture will hopefully become clearer after this week’s games, I have decided to hold off on my playoff preview series until next week. I know you’re all devastated by this news, but to tide you over until that time I thought I’d stop in with a preview of a different sort.
I know it’s kind of crazy to be doing this now (that’s sort of my motto at this point), but while watching that abysmal first half performance at home against the lowly Tennessee Titans I couldn’t help but ask myself how the Colts are going to address this horrible offensive line. Since the trading deadline has passed and the Colts are basically stuck with what they’ve got this season, my only choice was to look to next year.
I realize we are in the midst of an all-time great story here with a team that wasn’t expected to win 4 games let alone 9+, and believe me, I’m as thrilled as you are, so don’t take this article to in any way represent feelings that I am unsatisfied with the team we have. Quite frankly this has been one of my favorite teams since I’ve been a football fan (going on 20 years). This article comes from a place of genuine curiosity regarding our 2013 cap situation and the recent rumblings that free agents are expressing interest in playing with Andrew Luck and the new look Colts.
The current cap situation: As many of you already know, the Colts have been operating under what can only be described as a financial handicap this season. Entering 2012 they had about $5 million in cap space (due in large part to dead weight created by contracts of players no longer on the team, like Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, Gary Brackett, Melvin Bullitt, and others), but according to various sources, which are surprisingly hard to find by the way, the Colts should have about $43 million in cap space for the 2013 season (the exact math of it is all a bit fuzzy to me), that’s the most in the NFL.
Undoubtedly some of that money will go to resign players with contracts expiring, the list of Colts’ free agents is quite long but includes starters and key backups Donnie Avery, Dwight Freeney, Darius Butler, Antonio Johnson, Winston Justice, Pat McAfee, Cassius Vaughn, Jerraud Powers, and A. Q. Shipley. Of those players I would expect the Colts to resign only a few: Pat McAfee, maybe Donnie Avery (depending on who else they could get), perhaps Winston Justice (for depth if nothing else), and A. Q. Shipley (Satele just isn’t good). None of them should be particularly huge contracts.
Okay, so with all that nonsense out of the way, here are some players I think the Colts would do well to target this offseason along the offensive line. If this goes over well I might do a follow up for defensive line, secondary, and other positions we need. I’m sure we will be revisiting these discussions many times to come, but for now here’s a look at my wish list for the Colts offensive line in 2013. Understand these are just some players I would personally like to have, free agency is complicated and there are a lot of factors at play, I don’t pretend to understand all of them (or any of them really).
Andy Levitre (LG, Buffalo, Age: 27)
Current contract: 4 years - $3.5 million
Levitre is in the final year of his rookie contract with the Buffalo Bills. His name might not come immediately to mind when thinking of the top level offensive linemen in the NFL as he’s quietly been toiling away in relative obscurity up there in Buffalo (or is it Toronto now, I don’t know what they’re doing), but he’s actually the best free agent guard available in 2013. Buffalo has a somewhat problematic salary cap situation with the major contracts they have given Ryan Fitzpatrick and Mario Williams, as well as the expiring contracts of Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd and their other talented young guard, Kraig Urbik. Levitre may very well be the casualty, and the Colts are in a prime position to capitalize.
Ryan Lilja (G, Kansas City, Age: 31)
Current contract: 3 years - $7.5 million
This one might seem odd considering he was a Colt barely three years ago, but it’s those very Indianapolis ties that makes Lilja a likely option to come in at guard in 2013. While he’s technically been playing center for most of this season, Lilja’s natural position is guard and he would represent an immediate and substantial upgrade over our current stable of players at the position. He’s relatively old at 31 years, but he’s also consistent and cheap (currently making about $2.5 million), exactly what the Colts need. He’s better as a run blocker than as a pass blocker (where he is not exactly poor either) but that’s actually okay, the Colts have voiced an emphasis on the run game which could make Lilja an ideal fit. His experience playing center could also serve to give us depth just in case.
Ryan Clady (LT, Denver, Age: 26)
Current contract: 5 years - $17.5 million
Ryan Clady is of course a left tackle, like Castonzo, so it’s maybe unlikely that the Colts would go after him, but imagine if Castonzo were moved to the right tackle spot and Clady were planted on the left, we’d have dominant tackles on both ends, that would be something. I have no problem with the Colts keeping Castonzo at left tackle next year, he’s been nearly dominant for about 8 straight weeks now, but the Broncos already have some massive contracts on their books (Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil, Champ Bailey, and of course the biggest of them all, Peyton Manning) and paying Clady what he’s undoubtedly going to be worth will be tough for Denver to pull off (there’s a reason the Colts could never have a dominant offensive line, Peyton Manning ain’t cheap). The Colts might be better off taking a cheaper option at right tackle (a generally cheaper position), but the prospect of Clady and Castonzo playing together is a juicy one.
Sebastian Vollmer (RT, New England, Age: 28)
Current contract: 4 years - $3.1 million
Supposing the Colts decide to go the cheaper route and forego an attempt to bring in the talented but high priced Ryan Clady, Sebastian Vollmer might be their best option. Few teams are as top heavy on the salary cap as the New England Patriots, they tend to pay big money to their top players and fill in with low level contracts and rookie deals everywhere else. Sebastian Vollmer represents one of the best values currently in the NFL, he’s being paid less than $1 million a year on his rookie deal, meaning New England might struggle to fit him in financially. Vollmer isn’t elite level yet but he’s close (his PFF grade of +14.8 puts him just ahead of Castonzo, +10.1, at 17th among all tackles), and he likely won’t bring the price tag that other high level free agent tackles will. It would also be a nice bonus to poach a major player from the Evil Empire.
So there are four players I would love to see the Colts go after. Whatever the case, they need to address this offensive line in a major way. There are some other options out there, Buffalo’s other guard that I mentioned, Kraig Urbik, is also young and might be a solid option if Buffalo chooses to keep Levitre locked up instead, and Minnesota’s RT Phil Loadholt, has been solid this season as well and he’s only 26.
The Colts have some thinking to do. Let me know if there are some I’ve missed or what your dream offensive line would be for next season. We will unfortunately have to watch this ragtag bunch for at least another 4 games (hopefully 7), but the future may be bright with so many talented linemen hitting the open market this off season and the Colts looking to spend some money in hopes of protecting their budding young quarterback.
Considered this filed in the "For What It's Worth" category but Todd McShay's mock draft came out today and he has the Colts selecting Ezekial Ansah, a 6'6" 273 lbs DE from BYU with the 24th pick. McShay calls him a "project" with raw talent but incredible upside. I'm not the one to talk to about college football prospects but I thought some others might have input on the subject. Anyone like Ansah?
@Colt_Following Have not heard much about him, but here is my analysis after watching his game against ND and GT.
He shows a ton of potential, background is that he is very new to football, and that he came to BYU for another sport, and never saw a football game until he came here from Ghana I believe not sure what age that was though.
Anyways for his play, he plays with a high motor and has long arms and is extremely athletic, he plays at 6'6" 276 lbs but looks to be able to add some bulk to his frame.
That was the good, the bad is that he looks like a bunch of headaches for a NFL coach as well as fans of that organization, although when dominate in passing situations he looks like Aldon Smith, in others he looks very average to below average. He is easily blocked on running plays and does not really get much head to head penetration, he does however manage to get off blocks but often not in enough time to make a play. He often gets lost trying to read the play and fills the wrong hole.
On the bright side, he is fairly new, and hopefully he will be able to add strength along with a better understanding of the game over time. He is also a hard hitting DE that can catch up to a play from the backside on occasion. He also has versatility due to his size, athleticism and quickness, and can be lined up at different positions in some scenarios.
Again this is my take off watching 2 games, while I see the upside, I think he will be dominated by tackles and guards at the next level until he adds strength and gets a stronger understanding for the game, not sure he will see much of the field besides on some passing downs for the first few years of his NFL career.
@paulcareyjr Pretty detailed scouting report there. Not sure the Colts are in a "let's get a guy who can help us in 3 years" mindset at the moment though do you? Have to think with so many holes on the team still they wouldn't use their first round pick on a project guy that might be great in a few seasons but worthless right away.
I also forgot to add that he gets caught playing too high at times.
Honestly I am not sure, I think if the situation was not like it was with the Colts having so many holes to fill then taking a chance on this guy might not be too bad. With Redding, Moala, and Nevis, I think having this guy come in and play on mostly passing downs would not hurt us much, and he would probably be more productive than Moala and Nevis on passing downs. But with all these holes it would seem the better option is grabbing a guy who can be in the game on every down, but then again if a guy turns out to have an Aldon Smith type affect on a defense in his first year at a position of need, not sure how you turn that down.
Matt_has brought up a good point, what of the status of Ben Ijalana. his season was cut short and considering how this league treats injured players its likely he wont be here next season, but I would like the give him a chance before giving up on him. the way I see it, most of the problems stem from the interior of the line. Sure justice is bad, but i think Ijalana, if he can live up to his potential, can be a major upgrade
@RobertItoh I honestly don't know what the status of Ijalana is, but at the very least I can't imagine the Colts going into next season expecting him to be the primary starter, seems kind of risky.
@RobertItoh Yes, Ben!!! The few times he played he showed real promise! I don't want him dumped either.
You know: I've read plenty of people talking about taking a premier FA left tackle and moving Castonzo to the right. I'm not sure that's a good idea. While he could definitely play it, I'd think you'd want to put more of a hulking bruiser on that side, and let Anthony play the position he knows best.
But that said, you also don't ignore improvements when they're available. If the Colts have a legit shot at upgrading the already solid position of left tackle, sure, go for it. This isn't the draft where getting one player uses up your chances at others in that same round , so going after a stud LT won't hurt the team's chances at improving the interior. If they want to do it, it's no problem at all. I just wouldn't prioritize it, that's all.
Also: Loadholt's already going to be available? Wow.... I can't believe he's already through his first contract. Damn, the seasons fly by so quick...
@AJ_ It probably isn't a good idea, but man I like Ryan Clady. It won't happen (as SEVERAL people have pointed out already), but I wouldn't personally be mad if it did. I get the whole spend in moderation argument, and agree with it for the most part, but Clady is a special kind of player.
@Colt_Following Yeah. I can argue against it, as I did, but like I said: If you got a chance to improve, you do it anyway. All sports have taught us that; the lesson of passing over Michael Jordan in the NBA lingers to this day, and does so across more sports than just basketball. So while I say it's not a priority, I would definitely not complain if it happened anyway.
Good stuff again man!
Hurry up and compose more! For, after each one, "no more can I hold in the ardour that is in me. Needs must away quench it: too sore do I burn".
Vollmer. Yes, please. As evil as the Pats may be, you can expect a certain attitude and approach to have been coached into Vollmer.
A related question - has there been any update on Ijalana's health? He showed some solid promise.
I'm not trying to start a fight, and my difference here I state with respect, but with said respect I've got a bone to pick:
"there’s a reason the Colts could never have a dominant offensive line, Peyton Manning ain’t cheap"
That's not a fair or accurate rendering of Colts history. To start: No, Manning wasn't cheap - and yes, he was undoubtedly the highest paid player on the team by a good margin - but casting Manning's presence as the reason that the O-line had problems is, again, neither fair nor accurate. Manning's hit on the cap was far from crippling during the years the O-line was considered bad (2007 through '11). In '07, he accounted for 7.5% of the total team cap. In 2008, 16.1%. In '09 it was 16.6, and we all remember '10 as being the uncapped year. In '11, it was 13% (source: http://18to88.com/2011-archives/august/percentage-of-the-cap.html, plus some random Google searches to individual articles). Dwight Freeney had his own effect on the cap (in 2010, he was $13+ million against the cap), and Indianapolis has some significant dead money from players like Sanders, Harrison, Jackson, and the like. I'd blame the dead money for Indianapolis's cap problems even more than I would Manning's hit, because the Colts actually got production from Manning in all years besides 2011. But it's not possible to get anything from departed players.
The real reason the Colts had a bad line past 2006 was a combination of factors, none of them due to Manning's hit on the cap. It boils down to low draft selections and at least 3 outright misses in the draft. An exacerbating factor was Polian's refusal to work through free agency, but there was good reason for that. Nate Dunleavy agrees, having written several pieces forming his argument:
Recall that Tarik Glenn retired right before the first Super Bowl season. His replacement - Tony Ugoh - only lasted a few years and clearly went downhill after the first. Plus, he cost Indianapolis their 2008 first rounder as Polian traded up to get him.
The Colts 2008 draft ended up backfiring for the O-line picks, as 2nd rounder Mike Pollak was outright bad and Steve Justice didn't last. Jamey Richard as a 7th rounder was expected to be anything other than an occasional role player at best, and while he actually exceeded that, he was still hardly a building block. So right there, one draft that was supposed to supply a solid role player (Pollak) and an acceptable backup (either Justice or Richards) ended up falling flat on its face.
The following year had only one offensive lineman drafted - Jaimie Thomas - and he simply never developed into anything.
2010 ended up being an experiment with OG McClendon, but the best blocker from that draft ended up being Eldridge, who was a TE not a true NFL lineman.
So, there's the second part of the argument: The draft just ended up not netting Indianapolis any good linemen.
Add to that the problem that out of the two remaining mainstays - Jeff Saturday and Ryan Diem - only Saturday managed to keep his performance up throughout the years. Poor Diem started getting slow.
Place on top of all of that the fact they released Lilja, a move that wasn't unreasonable at the time, since they had to make some sort of choice, but which hurt the Colts in the end.
In sum: You have a line that was depleting and not refreshing.
So, in the end, there was a refusal to upgrade via free agency - one that makes sense, BTW - a bleeding off of good linemen, a failure for draftees to work out, and a tackle who was simply getting old. Only one of those factors - veteran free agency acquisition - would've been affected by Manning's cap at all, and he wasn't the only one having an effect (again, Freeney, plus dead money from Sanders, Harrison, etc.).
So is it fair to say that Manning was the reason that Indianapolis couldn't have a good offensive line? No, it is not fair at all. Neither is it accurate. The Colts history is better served by remembering the real factors instead of the easy, yet false narrative.
Again, all this is said with deep respect to the author. I post this to dispute the argument, not disparage the writer.
@AJ_ I can't get anything past you. Admittedly it was a lazy sentence, I don't mean to suggest that Peyton was the sole cause of our lack of an offensive line, but was just trying to point out that he was an expensive contract (~10% is quite a lot for 1 player, though certainly not unprecedented) and meant it more in relation to Denver's current situation and not the Colts previous one. His cap hit this season is $18 million, most in the league, and $20 million next season.
Those Dunlevy articles make some very interesting points. It is a bit distressing how few good free agents actually end up leaving (though there were certainly some true gems the years he listed). Nate does say, "Guards are the easiest thing to find via free agency." And "Teams that invest big money in free agents are usually getting older players who simply don't merit big time pay." and with the exception of Lilja all the players I listed are coming off rookie contracts and still in their 20s.
All the players I've listed are unrestricted, so at least they won't have to worry about that part of it, and I find it unlikely teams will throw their franchise tag on a non-LT offensive lineman all that frequently, though I could be wrong, I don't have the numbers on that.
@Colt_Following Yeah, I don't know what Manning's cap hit is for Denver, I admit. And I didn't sense the fact you were commenting more on Denver's cap than the Colts.
While I generally agree with Polian about free agents, I also have no problem with looking at players who are just coming off their rookie contracts. Linemen tend to be viewed as fungible, so I'd think that teams would be reluctant to stick tags on such players, therefore some good ones would make it to the market and not be crippling. I'm not as strict and unyielding as Polian is on free agents; I'd just rather avoid the Moss/TO/Haynesworth "Big Bucks Payday" type. Good but lower profile professionals don't twinge the warning for me. Polian, unfortunately, was so unyielding that we made the joke he'd turn down nachos at a gas station if he were starving because they just wouldn't be the right value. He wouldn't even look at a non-Colts FA player unless the situation was dire... and even then he felt history of such choices strengthened his case (anyone remember McFarland & Simon?). Despite being mostly in agreement, there were times I wished he weren't so rigid about things. Although admittedly, there were too many times when Colts needs simply did not match up the FA market well, so in that and myriad other ways, my wish is moot: The trigger wouldn't have been pulled, regardless.
@Colt_Following Right. That's another reason I'm willing to indulge in FAs more than normal. The floor's gotta be met, and since that's the case, it should be met in a way that also plugs the talent holes. So yeah, next year will be an unusual season in that respect.
@AJ_ The Colts also find themselves in a bit of a strange position, they really have no choice but to bring in some new contracts. Even if they wanted to avoid free agency, with the new minimum salary cap rules they will have to put a lot more money on the books just to hit the floor. Consider that Denver currently has 4 players accounting for roughly $50 million dollars in cap space in 2013 while the Colts don't even have $50 million in total salaries on the books for 2013 (their biggest cap number is Reggie Wayne at $5 million). The Colts have nearly as much dead money this season (38.6 million) as they do in total contracts for next year, that's pretty staggering.
They are going to have to sign a couple big money guys. Unless they massively overpay a ton of mid-level players they won't be able to even reach the minimum without taking on some pretty big contracts. Dwight Freeney's cap hit alone ($19 million this year) could pay 3 elite level offensive linemen.
@AJ_ I'd actually point to a different reason why the O-line wasn't a priority when Peyton was here - he didn't need one, so Polian prioritized other positions. Between his quick release, phenomenal ability to read defenses, and in-depth knowledge of his own offense and receivers, Peyton needed very little time in the pocket to be highly effective. Despite playing his last few years here behind a patchwork line, he averaged over twelve wins a season, seldom got sacked, and didn't even get hit all that much. And when the Colts couldn't run the ball, he could make up for it with a reliable short passing game. So Polian was able to keep focusing his high draft picks on skill players and defense, and try to stock the O-line with late round picks and UFAs.
Of course, it didn't help that many of the linemen picked in the late Polian years were busts. But the line would not have been dominant even if we'd gotten above average value with the picks we used on linemen instead of Ugoh, Pollack, McClendon, et al.
@ECB I actually thought about addressing that point - that Peyton was able to cover for an O-line, therefore suppressed the impetus for concentrating on linemen. But I decided against it because i rated it as a peripheral effect at best. I felt the draft picks plus Polian's aversion to veteran free agents was enough on its own. Plus, even if it became more obvious and urgent, I still don't see the Colts draft positions through the years helping much; even our first rounders those years were low enough to be high second round picks. And ditto for the second rounders, who were near the bottom and legit high 3rd round prospects, my point being that one of the primary factors would've screwed us regardless.
@ECB @AJ_ and my argument to that would be that Polian wanted to address the offensive line, but didn't have the resources to do it. We always picked pretty low and it made it difficult to find a player with the skills to be a franchise LT or a great guard. On top of that, good offensive linemen dont hit FA usually and even if they had, the Colts were usually strapped for cash.
I would, however, dispute that he didn't have the resources to address the O-line. He didn't have a lot of free cash in free agency, but it's irrelevant given his disposition against it. What he tried to do he tried in the draft, but it just didn't work out. And who would've guessed? Pollak was graded well in college, and Ugoh actually looked good at first. I'm just flabbergasted that those two tanked, and that right there really screwed things up.
By the way, not to kill your lede for next time, but who are the top FAs in the secondary? We need safety help, Bethea has been rock solid but we can't count on him forever and SS is still a liability even with Lefeged coming on.
@Coltsheadben I think going through the draft would be a smart way, we could always target Amerson I believe his name is, he is a tweener almost CB/FS. He has potential to be very good, but has had an off year so far. Having Pagano around will definitely help him out though, so addressing your question in a different way, he could help out corner, and eventually move on to safety when Bethea is out of here, he has not been rock solid in my view by the way.
(to the guy above)
There's always different levels of looking at a situation.
I think if you take the 'gm profile' perspective into the offensive line.. you see that he was an olineman himself, he is also a scout, and he gets off finding guys with feiry tenacity in run blocking that are gamers who aren't necessarily big names.
Translation: I don't think anyone will accurately guess who he'll have in the Oline,and I'm 75% sure we won't know his name, because he doesn't know it.
Thats just the reality of it. You can't say.. "we'll.. richards blew .. and pollack was a bust.. maqybe we'll trade for someone or sign a free agent" - that logic worked with Polian..
Think of the question "which offensive lineman will we sign" directed at a team made by Grigson equivalent to asking "which wide receivers will we sign" to a team assembled by polian... stokely (we would've said WTF!.,. this guy?).. austin collie (a 4th rounder? your kidding?).. Pierre Garcon (Mount Union?).. The point is Polian was good at scouting and choosing Wide receivers and was unconventional, and liked being so and was good at it. I think, 10 years from now, you'll come back to this thread and thank me for saving you 10 years of guess work because Grigson will unearth similar diamonds,, thru names we've never heard of. Thats what scouts do - they don't sign guys other people scouted that are dying on rosters.. etc.. I look forward to the next up and comer that no one's ever heard of.. and Grigson hasn't seen yet.. but will!
I presume this one was meant for me and not Coltsheadben. Anyway, yes, the comment system's got bad bugs. It drives me nuts sometimes, although I *have* seen worse. But yes, this one could use improvement.
Anyway, and again presuming this was aimed at me (my apologies if it's not): I don't get what you're getting at. There was no criticism of Grigson in my post at all, nor was there any reference or allusion to his abilities. Rather, I was replying to the notion in the piece here that Manning's cap hit from 2007 to 2011 was somehow responsible for a bad O-line during those years. That was my topic, and no offense, but your reply is a non-sequitur. I wasn't implying that Grigson wasn't going to be able to find good players, and in fact, his identification of gems so far has been plenty of reason to have confidence he will continue to do so in the future. Identifying and getting Hitlon was a coup, for example. And also, if he can do with the O-line what he did with the TE's (having the guts to get Allen when he already had Fleener by itself endears him to me), there's nothing to worry about in the future. So I appreciate the advice, but I've already come to the conclusion he'll do fine, therefore I won't need to thank you or anyone else in 10 years or even 5, because I reached my own opinion on the matter.
And I wasn't slamming Polian's past picks either (for the record, he was very much against picking up veteran free agents, so no, the logic would not have applied to him). I was merely pointing out that Indianapolis did not adequately replace what was lost, and that is unfortunately a fact. Prospect evaluation is hard, and no one would've guessed that Ugoh and Pollak would've missed. They shouldn't have, not with Ugoh's talent and Pollak's record and experience. The fact they never worked out is inexplicable. But that doesn't change the fact that it happened. Anyway, the line deteriorated despite Polian's effort. But it did not deteriorate due to Manning's cap impact, and that was my entire point.
Vollmer has been on my radar since he went one-on-one against Dwight Freeney in 2009 and pretty much dominated him. Wouldn't mind him on the right side at all. I also like bringing in Levitre at guard. Pick up some quality backups and we'd go from a piss-poor line to a dominant one.
I think we'll see Grigson try to get one stud at a position of severe need (CB, OL, NT). Whichever he can get. That puts Clady on the possible list. From there I see him trying to upgrade without committing a ton of money at all of the other positions. Looking at B grade players for good value. A guy like a Lilja (not him) or Vollimer would be a huge upgrade without costing too much. He'll get what else he needs in the draft or the second FA period.
I would take Levitre and Urbik in a package deal. They never should have gotten rid of Lilja in the first place. It was a salary dump! Clady would be the best option of the bunch, and you could move Castanzo to RT.
@horseshoe19 Lilja wasn't healthy at all the season before he got dumped. I thought he was done, glad to see him do so well with the Chiefs.
What does everyone thing of Reitz? I know he has had trouble staying healthy this year, but I actually think he is a pretty damn good left guard with room to still improve. Am I the lone wolf on this?
@DougEngland He hasn't graded well in the games he's played, giving up 5 QB hits and 8 hurries in only 191 pass blocking snaps. He's also graded out negatively in run blocking. It's a pretty small sample size though. Regardless he can't stay healthy, which seems to be a theme on our offensive line this season.
@DougEngland I think we would have a pretty good line if Reitz were the worst player on it. He is essentially replacement level when healthy. It just looks good in comparison.
Hey, maybe Josh Chapman can save our defensive line and our offensive line. He's gotta be good enough to play on both sides, right?
Thanks for starting this discussion - I am SO excited about all the cap room the Colts will have next year and the possibilities, especially along the O-Line. I don't think Grigson will look at Lilja given his age. I love the possibility of Ryan Clady but suspect he will be hard to pry from the Bronos, especially with how well he's protected Manning and that their "working relationship" will likely only last a few important years.
Levitre and Vollmer are interesting...
@LovinBlue Happy to do it. I personally have fond memories of Lilja, so perhaps that's just sentiment talking. I still wish we'd kept Jeff Saturday. There are other tackles worth looking at, Andre Smith is probably the best RT in the NFL and he will be a free agent, though I have to imagine Cincinnati makes him a major offer, he was their #6 overall pick in 2009 after all.
@Colt_Following @LovinBlue Not why this isn't getting more mentions, Andre Smith will likely be the most coveted free agent coming out next year; I'd much rather pair him with Castonzo than make Clady/Castonzo play out of position. Smith hasn't always appeared to have his head in the game, but now, you're right; he's the top RT in the game according to various metrics. Want!!
I don't pay enough attention to college football to know, are there any RT prospects coming out this year to be excited about? Seems like it is pretty hard to get solid tackle's in free agency.
@kasey_junk @Colt_Following @LovinBlue yes of course, DJ Fluker, Dallas Thomas, Eric Foster may be interesting, but he has LT potential as well, all these guys could be available when we pick. There are some others that will be available later in the draft but don't really know much info about them...
The Cap floor begins this year. Colts are forced to spend at least 89% of the salary cap. I would love to get Clady, but i don't think Broncos will let him go. If they do, Grigs should send him a blank check. make his contract frontloaded, so we won't create cap hell going forward. Not sure about Lilja coming back.
@MadsKabell You can only front load a contract so much. For Clady you have to assume Joe Thomas's contract is the barometer. He got an 8 year 92 million contract with 44 million in guarantees. Don't know the exact details but that is between 10-15 million per year over the life of the contract.
There is also the real money implications. I think Cleveland signed a 20 million dollar check the day Thomas signed...
@kasey_junk @MadsKabell Joe Thomas was front loaded (15 million in the first year with a 5 mill bonus), so his cap hit is currently sitting at about $11 million, and will be about 10 for the rest of the contract through to 2018. If that's the money Clady would require then I agree with you, it's too much, but it's still fun to think about. Fortunately Castonzo is beginning to look like he might actually be a damn good LT, his last 8 games have been better than good overall, so we really don't need Clady. It would certainly make more sense to go after one of the better RTs. I don't think Justice is bad, but he's proven that he's incredibly injury prone this season and that's not going to cut it. He'd be a good guy to keep around for depth but when Linkenbach is your #2 you'd better have a guy who doesn't get injured.
@Colt_Following No, you were right to bring Clady up He would immediately become Luck's Glenn.
It's just that there is no way the Broncos are letting him go next year. if they can't get him to sign long term, they will defiantely Franchis him.