Last week, I started to break down the Colts' cap situation, starting with the offense.
Now, we move to the defense and special teams, to finish out this review.
Cory Redding- 4,391,667
Brandon McKinney- 1,150,000
Drake Nevis- 717,278
Clifton Geathers- 630,000
Kellen Heard- 630,000
Ricardo Mathews- 540,000
Josh Chapman- 533,878
Lawrence Guy- 480,000
It looks like the Colts are spending a decent amount here, but the top three linemen only played in a combined 23 games in 2012. Brandon McKinney could be a viable depth guy at nose tackle in 2013, and Josh Chapman has gotten a lot of hype from the team. At defensive end, Mathews, Nevis and Redding are viable options as depth/rotation guys at defensive ends, but the Colts eventually need starters all along the defensive line.
However, I don't know that free agency is the best place to find those guys. Instead, I would look in the draft, where there are multiple viable options at the Colts' picks.
Robert Mathis- 10,750,000
Jerry Hughes- 1,926,250
Pat Angerer- 882,500
Kavell Conner- 641,309
Scott Lutrus- 555,000
Quinton Spears- 480,000
Justin Hickman- 480,000
Mario Harvey- 480,000
Jerrell Freeman- 465,000
Jake Killeen- 405,000
Monte Simmons- 405,000
Shawn Loiseau- 405,000
The Colts' linebacker total looks big, as Mathis' cap hit in 2013 balloons after costing the Colts just over $5 million in 2012. But the Colts really aren't spending much on inside linebacker, with the three main 'backers (Conner, Freeman, Angerer) costing less than $2 million in 2013. The outside linebacker position is already costing the Colts a lot, especially with Mathis' large contract. But, OLB is an important position in this scheme, and it may still be worth splurging on another big contract. On the other hand, perhaps developing through the draft is a better option for this spot.
Vontae Davis- 1,136,250
Sergio Brown- 630,000
Marshay Green- 480,000
Teddy Williams- 480,000
When you look at who is actually on the roster for 2013, it becomes apparent exactly how much the Colts need help at the position. None of the corners outside of Davis are even depth guys, but just special teams' bodies. The Colts need both a starter and a nickel cornerback at the very least. They'll almost certainly look in the draft for some guyes to develop, but free agency should be an option as well, especially when looking for a solid starter.
Antoine Bethea- 5,750,000
Tom Zbikowski- 1,937,000
Joe Lefeged- 557,667
Larry Asante- 555,000
Delano Howell- 480,000
The Colts are paying Zibby and Lefeged nearly $2.5 million next year, but based on their performance in 2012, the Colts should look to replace them anyway. They do not currently have a future starter on the roster. Based on the available targets in free agency, and the multitude of options in the draft, I'd rather see the Colts' look for someone to develop in the draft (unless a guy like Byrd becomes available, which I doubt he will).
K Adam Vinatieri- 3,400,000
LS Matt Overton- 480,000
Adam Vinatieri's contract is a little large for a kicker, and an aging one at that. But, it's the last year on his deal, and he's still got some clutch kicking left in him. There's obviously a punter missing on this list, and that punter should be Pat McAfee. The Colts need to do what it takes to get him to sign. There's no uncertainty here, get it done.
With Vinatieri, what would be the sunk cost of cutting him? I am sure another team will pick him up. I would if I was a Coach or GM whose job was at risk with a wobbly kicker.
The only rational for cutting Vinatieri is if you think the Colts are not yet ready to make a Super Bowl run next year and a hot young kicking prospect is available. You could work out a rookie kicker's flaws(butterflys) in 2013 instead of 2014 or 2015 when Vinatieri might be finally over the hill at 41+. Also it seems that college ranks in the last 15 years have been turning out some really big leg kickers. Not something that Vinatieri, inspite of his greatness, is known for.
What about Antonio Johnson? Any thoughts on the Colts keeping him? True, he is not a true NT, but didn't he step in and carried a load of snaps, doing at least a serviceable job?
Safety might be a position where the draft is a good idea to go, there are a decent amount of development guys that will slip to the late and mid rounds so I could see us going here and not overpaying in free agency.
Honestly I would not mind cutting Vinatieri, and grabbing a rookie kicker, after seeing what they did last year, and when he did, as well as the cost of both, I would rather take the rookie, granted it is not guaranteed they will have the same success as the guys from this years class.
I am also in agreement that DE is somewhere where going through the draft or signing cheap FA's might be the best idea, and NT keeping the guys we have and signing a solid/cheap vet for depth would ideal.
Honestly last year what percentage of snaps did we use a NT? Unless we can get one that is versatile to be really good at NT and solid at DT I doubt there will be reason to spend a early draft pick or a ton of money in free agency on one.
Wow, I'm not saying the Colts should go after Revis, but they have to find some Cornerbacks in free agency. No way you can address that complete dirth of talent solely in the draft.
@DougEngland I'm going to play devils advocate. Are our CBs really that bad? We all thought Jennings was horrible. Lacey played well for the Lions before he got hurt. Yes, I'd love to get someone as good as Davis too. But Butler played pretty well and Vaughn had his moments. I'd prefer we put money into pass rushers. I don't care if a team has four Revis's, if you give receivers all day they'll eventually get open.
@smonroe Well, both Butler and Vaughn are Free Agents. And yes, I really do think the Colts CBs are really bad. On just a decent defense, I see either Butler, but especially Vaughn, as no better than dime backs.
@silentkman @Snake3 @DougEngland @smonroe So pass rushers and secondaries are basically best friends if one does bad the other typically does bad, if you have DB's that can't cover good pass rushers won't have time to get to the QB, if you have pass rushers that can not get pressure then your DB's will look poor because the QB will have forever to throw.
I do think our DB play was bad last year and I do think that we should find a good DB out of the draft, get a low cost guy in the 1st if possible, and add a vet for the nickel position and for depth.
The rookie DB may not be wonderful his first year, but it is a cheaper option and can pay off big when he develops.
@Snake3 @DougEngland @smonroeLacey did not play well at all for Lions. The Colts could probably get Kruger for half the price of Revis. I think the Colts can get kruger and a safety for the price of Revis.
Does anybody know why the Special teams coach was not retained? In 2011 the ST's average 22 yards a game (Kickoffs and Punt returns), In 2012 it was 33 years a significant difference.
Or do you just try to target a single upgrade for Vaughn or Butler (keep the other, my preference is butler) and then find a pass rusher. I wonder if there is any statistical evidence to back up the feeling i have that it takes 3-4 yrs for a CB to really come into their own as a player. It always seemed like we bailed on CBs and then had them turn into good players on other teams.