(Christopher Hanewinckel - USA Today Sports)
There are a few free agency rumors and reports floating around the internet this week regarding the Colts. We’ll take a look at some of the recent stories and see which ones are true, plausible, or unlikely. The Colts have to spend up to the 89% cap floor this season, with $44 million in cap space, so expect the free agent buzz surrounding the team to ramp up in the next two weeks.
We'll get to this week's big story in a moment, but after the jump, we'll begin with a player most of us believed had played his last game as a Colt.
We have two items of free agent chatter regarding the oft-injured Powers. Mike Chappell of The Indianapolis Star reported yesterday that the Colts want to re-sign the veteran cornerback, citing both Coach Chuck Pagano and Powers’ agent, Cliff LaBoy. Here is Chappell’s quote from LaBoy:
“They are making a concerted effort to get something done,’’ he said. “They want him back. They have made that clear. And Jerraud has made it clear he wants to stay. We’ve had very positive conversations.
“But we’re also aware there will be a market for Jerraud. He has a lot to offer and he’s still a very young player.’’
The Verdict: Very true. There is no questioning the quotes obtained by the ultra-professional Chappell. Clearly, this was information the Colts did not mind sharing. The team can make an official offer to Powers beginning on March 9th (if he doesn’t sign, he would become a free agent at 4:00 PM on the 12th, of course).
Powers showed promise as a rookie third round pick, totaling 57 solo tackles, an interception, and ten passes defensed in 12 games his rookie season. Despite his potential as a coverage corner and solid tackler, he’s been hampered by injuries in all four years and is yet to play a full 16-game season.
Nevertheless, if Powers can stay on the field and off the injury report, he has the ability to play well at a high-demand position. So, as his agent was quick to point out, there is a market for him, injuries or not, which brings us to the next piece of Jerraud Powers news.
Kevin Acee of the U-T San Diego newspaper believes the Chargers could be one of those teams in the market for Powers’ services.
Conversely, the Chargers, whose new general manager is the Colts’ former personnel director, look to be considering a run at Colts unrestricted free agent cornerback Jerraud Powers.
The Verdict: Plausible. Acee was in Indianapolis for the combine and no doubt heard a great deal of chatter about draft picks and free agents. Without a source, it appears speculative, but his speculation could prove accurate. As we know, the Chargers’ new GM is Tom Telesco, who was part of the front office team that drafted Powers in 2009, and he could be looking at players he is already familiar with to fill holes on the roster.
San Diego has three cornerbacks scheduled to become free agents next month, including two starters in the aging Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason, a 5-year vet who could be expensive to retain. If the Chargers choose to re-sign only one (or neither) of their own starters, Jerraud Powers would be able to play a starting or nickel role for what could be a decent price.
Louis Vasquez, Chargers OG
Vasquez’s name has been floating around in Colts news all week. This one also originates with U-T San Diego’s Acee, who says the Colts “will make a run at Vasquez.”
Since much of our free agent offensive line talk has focused on players like Buffalo’s Andy Levitre, here is a quick profile. Louis Vasquez is a gigantic Texan who blocks people for a living. His pre-draft scouting report begins with the words “tall with large middle.” At 6-5, 335, he has some decent quickness for run blocking at the second level, but he is known for his pass blocking. Vasquez did 39 bench press reps at the 2009 Scouting Combine, which was a record at the time. Now, at 25, he is arguably the best player on San Diego’s offensive line
The Verdict: Plausible, but a long shot. Most people would agree that the Colts need some interior linemen, and Colts VP of Football Operations Jimmy Raye, previously with San Diego, is familiar with what the big guard brings to the table (which, judging by his photo is whatever he wants). That being said, a lot can happen between now and then, including the Chargers re-signing Vasquez, which ESPN’s Bill Williamson believes is crucial, even describing him as “irreplaceable.”
In short, if they don’t overpay, Vasquez could make a nice addition to the Colts offense, but he would have to become a free agent first.
Cliff Avril, Lions DE
Hmm. Well, this one traces back to a list of free agent predictions from Evan Silva of Rotoworld.
The Verdict: It’s a guess, intended for neither rumor nor report. Now, while it is believable that the Detroit Lions would part ways with one of their better players, the thought of Avril signing in Indy is just…odd. Sure he’s versatile (he played some outside linebacker early on at Purdue) and a fine pass-rusher, but it is hard to imagine the Colts would let an undersized 4-3 defensive end who had trouble fitting into their 3-4 system walk only to replace him with another undersized 4-3 defensive end. Stranger things have happened.
Stampede Blue’s Brad Wells believes former Eagles DT’s Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson could be potential free agent targets for the Colts, due to positional need and their connection to Colts GM Ryan Grigson.
The Verdict: There is nothing wrong with a little speculation. Jenkins is 32, and Patterson will be 30 when the 2013 season begins. Neither are prototypical 3-4 nose tackles, but they could possibly play DE in Chuck Pagano’s scheme for the right price. And, as Wells pointed out, Jenkins played in the Packers 3-4 scheme for most of his career. It doesn’t seem likely, however that the Colts would seek out aging defensive players and ask them to change positions.
Between now and free agency, everything could change. When teams begin re-signing their own free agents, the supply of above average players at each position will dip and fluctuate, and those initial re-signings will help set the market for the remaining free agents. For now, anything that isn’t straight from the mouths of the Colts’ brass is mostly just speculation, predictions, and entertainment as we approach a free agency period with a staggering $44 million in cap space.
Is there anyone you hope the Colts will target (or avoid) in free agency? Let us know in the comments. I do enjoy your comments.
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According to B/R NFL 1000 2013 and Pro Football Focus, 5 of the top 10 right tackles are free agents: Andre Smith, Sebastian Vollmer, Eric Winston, Gosder Cherilus, Phil Loadholt RT. A guard or two would be great: Andy Levitre, Louis Vasquez, Donald Thomas, Brandon Moore. There is also an array of safeties available. I would not overpay for a cornerback, although it is a need, because it looks like Desmond Trufant will be best player available in Round 1 of the draft.
CB Leodis McKelvin and Mike Jenkins - talented relatively low cost additions at a position where you can never have enough talent. They will both be less expensive than Powers, and McKelvin can help the return game as well to allow Hilton more reps as a starter.
DL - Glenn Dorsey, Sedrick Ellis - talented guys who have underwhelmed, to put it mildly, but who do have talent and cold help an undermanned Colts D-line. Antonio Garay- A stopgap NT in case Chapman is not there yet, and to spell him.
G Louis Vasquez or Andy Levitre - they get one of these two as a priority signing
S Laron Landry - longshot, but he would certainly help "build the monster"
T Jake Long - unlikely, but would certainly fit the bill at RT, and hugely upgrade both protection for Luck and the run game.
I want to correct my last comment. Teams have 4 years to spend the minimum. "According to the CBA's Article 12, Section 9: A) For each of the following four-League Year periods, 201 3-201 6 and 2017-2020, there shall be a guaranteed Minimum Team Cash Spending of 89% of theSalary Caps for such periods (e.g., if the Salary Caps for the 2013-1 6 and 2017-2020 are$100, 120, 1 30, and 1 50 million, respectively, each Club shall have a Minimum Team Cash Spending for that period of $445 million (89% of $500 million))."
I know this is discussed further down in the comments, but I think technically a team doesn't have to spend the minimum this year. I could be wrong, but I think it's a minimum over a three year period. Moot point, but I know the team has to hold back some cap space to plan ahead for future contracts.
Kansas City just traded future draft picks for the 49er's QB Alex Smith. That seems to indicate that the Chiefs will keep a hold of Dwayne Bowe. The number of attractive FA WRs for the Colts just got smaller. Now especially I don't see the Colts spending mega bucks for a FA WRs
Jenkins could be a decent piece for a few years. The Colts could definitely do worse than try to land him fora reasonable contract. It's not as if we are awash with DE/DT capable players who have an above-average pass rush ability. Cullen Jenkins fits in that role probably better than anyone else on the roster assuming injuries and/or age don't wash him out.
How much do the Colts have to spend to get to the minimum required level? Is it possible that Indy could end up in a situation where they would have to overpay some players just to get to the 89%? It is nice to have cap space, but if the players you really want don't become available or sign elsewhere, could you get forced to overpay?
(And I know most Colts fans disagree with me, but i think the Colts #1 priority should be a young, #1 outside receiver.)
@smonroe Gotcha. So they have to be at 89% for the four year period. If they aren't close in the beginning, they will have to be higher for the remainder of the period to make up for it. But at least they don't have to be all the way there this season. cool.
@thellammajockey Yeah, the rumor from Combine week was that they will franchise Bowe if he doesn't re-sign. I agree. Not a fan of Wallace. And they've shown they can draft WR's. I won't mind if they get a free agent, but I agree it doesn't look like he'll be a marquee guy now.
@Payton And he's a heck of a player. I don't think they'll go after anyone his age (which is weird to say because he is my age), but I included that bit from Wells because it was intriguing. I wouldn't mind another run stopper.
@DougEngland The projected cap has changed a bit. People are saying it'll be higher than expected. When it was going to be $121 million, 89% of that would be 107.69 mil with the Colts' salary around $77 mil. So they should have to spend around $31 mil to get to the 89% mark. (I didn't want to put that in the article last nigh bc I was getting tired and didn't trust my math). It might be higher now, but I suspect they might try using heavily front-loaded contracts to avoid having to overpay for anyone. Also, I agree they need a legit #1 receiver. Older receivers decline quickly, and Reggie is 34.
@MarcusDugan @thellammajockey Marcus, My bigger question is like that of Mike Chappel of the Star. It is trying to find out what is Grigson's and Pagano's strategy for "Building the Monster". 3-4 defenses have traditionally been seen as requiring both higher skilled and more experienced players. With the Colts defense potentially requiring a larger slice of the salary cap, where will the Colts attempt to staff the roster with more "value" defined players than what was the case in the past. With Pollian, fans knew he was not going to give linebackers big contracts, but spend more on the skilled positions and pass rushers.
I am simply speculating that the Colts will look towards adding relative "bang for the buck" talent in the receiving corp, where other teams are willing to freely spend big money on big name receivers. Lets face it, in this era of Fantasy Football, big name receivers are something that lots of fans get excited about and may be over valued.
Luck has great pocket mobility and presence like Dan Marino along with outstanding field of vision. Will Luck, also like Marino did with Clayton and Duper, be able to make B & B+ WRs into potential pro bowlers. If the Colts believe that is the case, they may be willing to make due without what the NFL considers "elite" WR talent.
In the Bruce Arians' offense Wayne played a role analogous to Hines Ward in Pittsburgh. However, I think the difference would be that Wayne uses his nimble quickness, route running skills, and athletic moves to get open, while Ward at least ten pounds heavier at the same height was much more physical. Ward is 33 months older than Wayne and retired at the end of the 2011 season. Ward had a strong season in 2009 1167 yds 6 tds, in 2010 755 yds 5 tds, and finally 2011 381 yds 2 tds. Wayne had in 2012 1355 yds 5 tds with a rookie QB and fighting double coverage with an otherwise mostly rookie receiving corp.
Baring injuries that no one can predict. Is it not reasonable that Wayne, with his largely injury free career and excellent training regimen, is likely to at least signal when he is beginning to slow down? Is it not a reasonable assumption that Wayne can play at a minimum, 2 years of steady yet still acceptable decline while helping to mentor his fellow WR teammates?
I asked Barry Krauss and Marcus Pollard, that using Hines Ward as a comparison, was it reasonable for the Colts to assume they could count on Wayne for 2 more years, allowing them to develop to the current receiving corp along with 2013 draft picks and UDFAs, or did they need to sign a big name veteran FA. They answered the feeling was Wayne had a couple of productive years left and the primary focus would be on developing the current crop of WRs.
This year with a limited number of appealing talented FA WRs and few standout 1st round WRs, my guess is that any WRs additions the Colts make, will be out of left field.
@MarcusDugan @thellammajockey @DougEngland Over the next 2 years the Colts need to find or develop a couple of potential Wayne replacements and a true #1 outside corner. If those players on not currently on the roster, or standing out in the first 3-4 rounds of the draft implying they are "NFL Ready", the Colts are just going have to draft this year and develop late round WRs and UDFAs for 2014. Lots of teams do it, especially those with confident front offices. Its how players line Amendola, Welker, Miles Austin, Edelman, Garcon, guys who went born on 3rd base, break into the league.
In Grigson We Trust.
Hopefully, Wayne does have some time left to be productive. He will be playing in a new system again, but he's a smart guy.
@thellammajockey @DougEngland Sounds reasonable. IMO, whether it's a FA (I'm not sold on Bowe or especially Wallace, which doesn't leave much) or a draft pick, I'm hoping Wayne's replacement will already be on the roster in 2013.