The Colts made another free agent signing today, per Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune:
Colts agree to terms with safety Tom Zbikowski. Chuck Pagano gets one of his former Ravens.— Dan Pompei (@danpompei) March 16, 2012
As Pompei says, the Colts get another former Raven defender, one of the perks of hiring the Baltimore defensive coordinator as head coach.
As most regime changes go, the Colts are picking up players from the new regime's past, signing Cory Redding and Tom Zbikowski from Baltimore, and acquiring former Eagles in Winston Justice and Mike McGlynn.
As I said, this is similar to what most new front offices go through, bringing in players that the team is familiar with. Even for front offices as averse to free agency as Bill Polian was, the first offseason with a bad team often sees these types of signings. Teams as bad as the Colts today, or the Colts of 1997, have a lot of holes that need to be filled, and new GMs don't hold back in trying to fill them. For example, take a look at the acquisitions Polian made in his first year as general manager:
LB Mike Barber (Started 22 games for Colts)
CB Jeff Burris (4 year starter for Colts)
RB Keith Elias (backup/ST)
FB Scott Greene (From Carolina, Polian's old team)
RB Craig Heyward (Ex-Saint, Jim Mora's old team)
LB Jeff Herrod (Rotational LB, started seven games in 1998)
S Tim Hauck (Occasional starter and special teams player, started 7 games in '98)
LB Robert Holmberg (ST)
G Tom Myslinski (Backup OL, played at Buffalo in '93 w/ Polian)
CB Tyrone Poole (3-year starter, drafted by Polian in Carolina)
DL Van Tuinei (back-up DL, ST)
DT Jeff Zgonina (Played in CAR in 1995 w/ Polian)
LB Andre Royal (Rotational LB, started 9 games in '98; drafted by Polian in CAR)
WR Torrence Small (45 passes in '98, drafted by Jim Mora in NO)
DE Mark Thomas (Trade mid-season, played in CAR w/ Polian)
These obviously weren't all high profile moves, but Barber, Burris, Herrod, Poole, Royal, and Small were all contributing players, with Tyrone Poole and Jeff Burris being the big signings of the year. The Colts would add other major free agents in 1999, especially on defense where they signed Chad Bratzke, Chad Cota, Shawn King, and Cornelius Bennett. Cota, King, and Bennett were all drafted by Polian in Buffalo or Carolina.
This activity by the front office isn't unprecedented, but so far it looks solid. Grigson and Co. are filling in holes with known veterans, who should fit in well as the Colts transition into the philosophy of the new regime. As for Zbikowski, he isn't the ideal starter, but for this team, he should have no trouble sliding ahead of David Caldwell and Joe Lefeged for a starting spot. Zbikowski also should bring some punch to the special teams units, where the Colts have been underwhelming at best over the last decade.
Technically Polian didn't draft Bennett he traded for him. The Colts drafted him and traded him to the bills as a part of the Dickerson trade. Im also pretty sure Herrod was a former Colt they had brought back. I'm pretty sure he started his career with the Colts (either drafted or as an in drafted FA) However your broader point is exactly correct.
Thanks Kyle for putting these moves into perspective. For guys like me who haven't really known another Colts GM besides Polian and weren't really paying attention when that era began, it's nice to have some help reading the tea leaves.
We have been hurting baaadly at safety, and while he may not be a pro bowl safety by any stretch, he's made some impact plays. Also, as others have said, it never hurts to have a play-maker on special teams. As I have a good deal less faith in Lefeged at FS, I expect him to start barring us using a draft pick on a good NFL-ready safety.
Yikes! I like "Zi-BRO-ski" as a nick name though.
I like this signing-- at worst, we got an OK return man, a good special teams player and back up. I have an unholy obsession for Joe Lefeged's potential, and I hope that he starts because he takes the next step. Still, I really like this move.
He played his college ball at Notre Dame, an Indiana school. We should at least spell Tom Zbikowski's name right. If he doesn't work out on the Colts he can always bring some quality boxing to Indy.