The sermon is finished, the confetti angels complete, the lights have been turned off... again.
The end of Super Bowl 47 marks the finish of the 2012-2013 season and signals the beginning of the next "most vital off-season in Indianapolis Colts history." While last off-season was filled with tough emotional decisions, this off-season will be rife with difficult and tricky personnel decisions that will shape the future of the franchise for years to come, and go a long way towards determining just how successful this team can and will be on the championship level.
First comes the most challenging task for any team: honest self-examination. Grigson will need to avoid the trap of buying into the Colts 11-5 record, along with the hype and sentimentality that accompany it, and determine what the real strengths and weaknesses are on this roster. The toughest evaluations will likely come at Strong Safety and Center, where two of Grigson's 2012 free agency acquisitions - Tom Zbikowski and Samson Satele - were two of the weakest starters on the team.
With his self-evaluation complete, Grigson will turn his attention to the trickiest part of the off-season, and one of the biggest killers of long-term franchise success: free agency. While most Colts fans are stoked by the notion of the Colts having over $40-million in cap space and dreaming of their team finally making a big splash in free agency after years of Bill Polian putting them to sleep, Grigson must navigate the minefield of free agency carefully.
It's true that the Colts have a lot of cap space and that, because of changes in the CBA, they're forced to spend most of it, but bad contracts have a way of snowballing straight to "Cap Hell." So what should the Colts do? Target the players they feel the most confident in and go after them aggressively. If you have to overpay to get what you consider a sure-thing, do it. But if you fail to get your targets, do not panic and overpay just to fill a need. The Colts are not one or two players away from being a Super Bowl contender, they can afford to exercise some "aggressive patience." Grigson has a reputation for being aggressive earned during his time with the Eagles - and certainly supported by his first year with the Colts - so it will be interesting to watch him attack this market with a lot of cap freedom.
Once the free agency carcass has been picked clean, Grigson will turn his attention to the part of the off-season in which he thrived the most: the draft. While they won't have their full compliment of picks - they are down the 2nd-round pick they traded for Vontae Davis - they should still be able to find one or two impact players, and I wouldn't rule out the possibility of Grigson completing a few draft-day trades in an effort to pick up some extra picks.
So how should the Colts approach the draft? Simple. They should draft, without exception, The Best Available Player (BAP). You should never, never, ever, (never ever?) draft based on a positional need. First, the Colts have far too many holes (QB and Punter, assuming McAfee re-signs, are the only two positions where they should feel set) to be picky. Second, you just always want to get the best player. If it's at a position where you're flush with talent, fine, you have now created a tradable asset. Stockpile as much good, young talent as you can, in an efort to set this team up for a prolonged period of contending.
At Colts Authority, we've already started the evaluation process for the Colts roster - who should stay, who should go? We've started looking at the team's needs. In the coming days and weeks, we'll tell you who we think the Colts should target in free agency and the draft. So while the season may be over, the fun is just beginning. So invite TO over, getcha popcorn ready, and enjoy what is guaranteed to be not only an interesting off-season, but am important one.
And, hey, if Grigson can duplicate the success he had in his rookie campaign, maybe we'll be in a New York State of Mind at this time next year.
I like Grigson and I believe he has set up a good foundation. But really, he came into a situation that the biggest decision (Draft Luck, x Manning) was already made for him. He had a great draft, but his free agent signings were hit and miss. Does he get credti for hiring Pagano or was that also Irsay? Who brought in Arians, was that Pagano or Grigson? Who talked Reggie into resigning, Grigson or Pagano? What was the thinking process on paying Freeney this year?
What I am saying is that I really believe this is the year that is really going to define Grigson. I believe that Luck is so good, that the Colts franchise will survive to be a winner sometime in the next decade. But the decisions Grigson and company make this offseason will determine if the Colts become Super Bowl contenders in the next couple of years or if some of Luck's career is wasted.
Very well put Doug. I freverently hope to be put to sleep again as Grigson load up on average NFL players accross the board. Let's face it, in many positions the Colts were so far below average that just getting starting caliber players would be a huge up grade. If Jake Long show's up I'm going to be depressed for the forseeable future
@DougEngland Very well put Doug. I freverently hope to be put to sleep again as Grigson load up on average NFL players accross the board. Let's face it, in many positions the Colts were so far below average that just getting starting caliber players would be a huge up grade. If Jake Long show's up I'm going to be depressed for the forseeable future.
Grigson might be looking to shore up the linebacker position vacated by Freeney. I do not believe Hughes will be the next man up at that position. The colts could also use a shut down corner which is imperative in a three-four defense. I like to make a point about Caldwell. He goes to the Ravens , and he starts to open up the offense which helps them win a super bowl. In the super bowl against the Saints, he was totally conservative before half time, and Manning could not get the two minute drill going to get points before the half. Go figure! Do you want to blame Tom Moore? It has been three years, and that game still gets under my skin.
BPA sounds good, but it's not true. I think we can all agree we won't take a QB in the first round. Probably not a RB, WR, or TE either. By the draft we may have shorn up certain positions through FA. So to say we wouldn't draft based on positional need, I think you mean we wouldn't overreach based on it. I don't think you're being literal on BPA. Correct?
@smonroe if the BAP is a QB, you take him and trade him, or you trade down. BAP is true.
@GregC Maybe if you have the first or top 3 pick in the draft. Not at our spot. I also don't think we'll go WR, RB, or TE if they're BPA. I really think it's BPA at a position of need. For us, that's a lot of positions.
@GregC @smonroe I still don't fully agree, because the concept of BPA assumes that all positions and schemes are of equal value. While it is true that you draft BPA early, when looking for transcendent players, this does not hold true as you go down the ranks. A punter may be the singular biggest talent at what they do left on the board, but you certainly don't pull a wussy cats and take him in the 3rd round. This discussion needs to be nuanced to the point that we talk about taking the BPA who: fits the scheme and fits the paygrade of the current pick (don't pick a HB too early, they are not worth the top end money concept).
The right thing to for teams do to reach the cap minimum is to give some bonuses to their own deserving players. I don't know if that is allowed though.
This new CBA is going to make financial decisions very tricky. I think it could increase the amount of single year, overpaid contracts. That way teams do not put themselves into cap hell, at the same time hitting the cap% that they need. It will be a very interesting offseason, and a much more telling one about Grigson's style and ability.
@mattshedd Grigson has said encouraging things, like he'd much rather grab under-the-radar guys out from under the noses of their teams than make a "name" signing. That being said, you can't count on that sort of moneyball approach 100 percent, Satele for example was supposed to be "sneaky good" but wound up being just bad.
The way Grigson spoke last year was always "best players, best players, best players". When it gets to us, I think that's gonna be Defensive Line, possibly cornerback.