As free agency starts, and fans everywhere are hoping that "their" team signs "that" guy, I reflected on what the Colts may do in free agency. With the release of Bill and Chris Polian, the Colts may well change their philosophy with respect to flirting with free agency. Ryan Grigson, who was part of the management team that made a splash in free agency last year with the Eagles, has the experience and courage to tackle it.
But I don't think the Colts will be big players this year, for a few reasons:
1. There is not much free cap space for them to work with. Free agents tend to command higher contracts, and if bidding ensues (as it will for the coveted players), they will also command higher guarantees and more front-loading. The Colts have a lot of dead cap this year, but will have more opportunity next year.
2. The players who fit best into a "rebuilding" organization are experienced, but younger, players... players who can plug holes and still have time to grow with the team. Typically, players coming off their rookie contracts are a great match. Unfortunately, the best of these players are also great matches for teams who have just one or two more pieces to plug for a championship run.
3. The players coming available realize how short careers in the NFL really are, and they are looking to get paid. Players need to maximize their current contracts, and if they play well, they will often not see another opportunity to let the market determine their value. Teams with more cap space, or who don't have as many holes to fill, will easily outbid the Colts for the special players.
So while the turnover in the front office may have foretold a changing philosophy within the Colts' organization, I don't expect to see that philosophy put into action this year. More painfully, I expect to see a lot of "my" guys go to someone else's team.
Yes good-bye to almost all of the Colts you used to know, some how, people think that Luck will be the saving grace. In 1998 Manning went 3-13, but hand a good nucleus to work with, but now, with the dismantling of all of the players , and rebuilding,and no money, well all I can say is welcome back Colts of old 1984-1998. Mediocre teams at best, fans will not put up with the same situation that they endured from 1984-1998 !!! Lets not forget prior to 1998, the Irsays ruled the roost, but in 1998 they hired Bill Polian, he built the successful team we injoyed from 1999-2011. Now the Polians are gone, and the Colts are lead by Irsay's again, and his inexperienced GM and Coach !!!! I'm not saying mistakes were not made by the Polians, but you can't argue with the Colts success over the last 11 years. I would like to be wrong on this, but history seems to repeat its self, and I'm afraid the Colts have a long hard road ahead, that will not be fixed for SEVERAL YEARS !!!! ( NOT 2-3 ) like most would like to believe. I think more in the line of 5-6 years provided they keep the same GM and Coach, but if they are fired, well it will be much longer !!!!!!! You can't build a Championship quality team with inexperience, NO MONEY, Lack of experienced leadership !!!! HAVE MERCY ON THE COLT FAITHFUL, THIS WILL BE A VERY TRYING TIME !!!!!! There will be no games on TV for a while, the stadium will not be filled for a long time, just like the old days !!!!!
In all serious, your points are all very well made. Plus, I fear that Colts Management has already given up on the 2012 season. Lots of playing time for very young players led by a rookie QB.
Hopefully Colts fans will see enough in the development of Luck to keep them engaged But a fan base that has been spoiled by a decade of excellence... will have to have some patience.
Wow, is 2013 going to be monumental for the Colts and their leadership... from tree agency to the draft to having a competitive team on the field.
I sure hope you are wrong about giving up on 2012. Certainly they aren't looking at a Super Bowl run, but having some success on the field this year would be an important first step in the rebuilding process. First of all, Pagano needs to show that he can be a head coach, and in particular he needs to show that he can turn around the defense. And Luck needs to show some talent on offense. He should be a substantial improvement over Painter & co. If both of those happen, the team should be decent.
Also, it is difficult to incorporate too many free agents at once - as Grigson's Eagles demonstrated last year. Starting to fill some holes this year will ease that process, and also give us two year's worth of players to draw from.
I've heard that this kid Peyton Manning is pretty good, and for some reason has a deep affection for Indy and is willing to be reasonable in his salary demands. May be someone the Colts should look into.
So I would just like to make the point that everyone keeps talking about Cap Space, but not really talked about how much we really have to work with, so I did a estimate earlier we should have between 15 and 20 million in cap to spend depending on what happens with Freeney, also this is after signing draft picks.
I do not think that is super bad, we need to fill some areas, but this should give us enough to work with, I think key target areas for us will be safety, receiver and tight end, and OL just like ECB said.
I doubt very much that we will make any high profile signings this year, for the reasons expressed. Exception might be if Grigson really wants a solid veteran at a specific position, most likely NT or CB. I do think we will have to fill some holes with guys who are just glad to keep playing - think Brayton, Anderson & Sims last year. We have to add a WR, TE, C, & NT because we don't have plausible starters on the roster - though some of those could be re-signing our own FA's. We also need upgrades at CB & SS, and it would be helpful to add an OG. We'll be drafting many of those positions, but you can't depend on later round picks to come in and start right away.