With the questions now emerging on Ed Reed's future with the Ravens, the Colts are one of the teams to watch. With the obvious connections to former defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, familiarity with former Ravens Cory Redding, Brandon McKinney, and Tom Zbikowski, and former roommate Reggie Wayne, Reed has the intangible reasons to sign with Indianapolis.
But that doesn't make Reed the perfect fit for the Colts. The team is trying to rebuild, and has enough veterans (namely Bethea, Mathis, and Redding) on the defense to start building with younger guys. If the Colts can get him for an extremely cheap price, and for a one-two year contract at most, then it wouldn't be a bad sign. But anything more than that could be a hindrance more than a help.
But Reed isn't the only option at safety. Here are a few safeties that could be an option in free agency.
Jarius Byrd (BUF)
Byrd is the cream of the free agent crop when it comes to the 2013 class. Just 26, Byrd is young, has great range in coverage, and is an adequate run stopper. Byrd had the second best grade of any safety in the league from Pro Football Focus, and he plays free safety, the position that needs to be replaced with Tom Zbikowski's ineptitude on display all season.
I'm not concerned about the specific positions, as Bethea really can play either side, but it's convenient in this case. The only problem with Byrd is that Buffalo could decide that he is worth the franchise tag, keeping him off the market this year.
William Moore (ATL)
Atlanta doesn't have much cap space this offseason, and needs to focus on re-signing cornerback Brent Grimes and left tackle Sam Baker. Moore likely will be able to test the open market, in which case the Colts should take a look. Moore is a great athlete with a nose for the ball. He's not a huge hitter, but he's smart about attacking the runner, finishing 16th out of 55 safeties in run stop percentage. He also was one of the best pass rushing safeties, finishing second in pressures per snap among safeties (nine in 28 snaps).
Moore did miss four games this season with a hamstring injury, and has never actually played a full season in his four-year career. The injury thing is certainly something to watch.
Dashon Goldson (SF)
Not everybody loves Goldson after a few down performances in this year's playoffs, but overall Goldson's had an above average year, and would be a big improvement over Zbikowski. Goldson is one of the better coverage safeties available in free agency, although he's not a great run defender. The problem with Goldson is that when he fails in coverage, he usually fails big. He had a couple of really poor games in coverage, but most were very good.
The benefit with Goldson is that he may come a bit cheaper after a couple of poor performances on National TV in these playoffs.
Overall, Byrd is my first choice. But to be honest, the Colts simply have to do something about their safety situation. Tom Zbikowski didn't do it this year, and he won't next year either.
Byrd would be nice, I always liked the guy. He used to intercept Tom Brady, which is good.
I definitely don't want Reed, he's got too much usage and it's not worth the money. I am neutral about Goldson but if it costs too much he is not worthy either. I would like the Colts to draft somebody that is young and talented.
Don't really want Reed unless he's cheap. He's still really good, and would help out our coverage quite a bit, but not sure how much longer he'll be effective and his name could make him expensive for what you're getting. Byrd would be amazing, but not sure it's possible. Would prefer both Goldson and Moore over Reed.
Best thing to happen to the Colts is the Bills franchising Byrd, opening the door for Andy Levitre to leave. We add him as a Guard to the O-Line and you go cheaper/short term with Ed Reed at Safety.
Not to sure how I feel about Bethea at SS, but I guess not sure how I feel about him at FS either, better than Tim, yup, maybe a year of playing in the system, and getting comfortable with the rest of the guys in the secondary as well as having better CB's will help him out.
Also thought Bryd was more of a FS than SS, another option could be Kenny Phillips, I believe he had injuries last year, but he could be a cheap get and at worst he would add depth.
@aerichner I like Reed as a veteran influence, but he's not going to be cheap. And he's not the Reed of 3 years ago. Love the idea of getting Levitre and maybe Vasquez. It's doable!
@paulcareyjr PFF had Byrd at FS this season, and Bethea as a SS.
Phillips is too injury prone. The giants fans are thinking that he may be franchised. it appears that he still wants to be a starter.
@DougEngland Forget it, he'll be franchised for around $7m. I'd rather spend 8 on Kruger and the rest on a couple decent OGs.
@smonroe @aerichner I don't see the attraction of Ed Reed at all. He does does not tackle anymore. The top priorities are to find bodies that will protect Andrew. Andy Levitre may be relatively cheap. from PFF
Stud: Although the star of the unit is Andy Levitre (+17.2), we can’t be the only ones that would like to see him do a little bit more in the run game.
@Kyle Rodriguez @paulcareyjr NFL.com calls gonna FS, but if the Colts had him playing man against the extra player on the strong side (RB, TE) more often, then PFF would be trivet to call him the SS. It did seem like Zbikowski was the roaming deep safety quite a bit.
@silentkman Yeah, I mean last year being out the whole time sucked, but in the previous 2 years he only missed one regular season game, but this is why I said he would be a cheaper option.
@smonroe @DougEngland those would be some expensive guards.. even if we spend $20m on resigns and the draft (which seems pretty high) will will still have about 25m to spend. We could get Byrd for 8(or reed for less) and Spencer or Kruger for 10m and still have 7 to spend on a couple guards. Am I missing something?
@paulcareyjr @thebluemonster @LovinBlue As a Purdue grad, I'm all for bringing Edwards on. Considering he was released in the middle of the season by the Falcons, he'll probably be much cheaper than that contract he signed in Atlanta. He never had problems at Purdue or with Minnesota, so I'm not worried about whatever happened in Atlanta.
@paulcareyjr @Kyle Rodriguez @smonroe @DougEngland Good point i hadn't considered him being across from Ware. But i looked back at his numbers and they have improved every year, and he has always played across from Ware. Also a correction, wikipedia was wrong, both espn and nfl.com say he missed 2 games last year (probably due to an injury). But that also means he had 95 tackles and 11 sacks in 14 games!!
@Kyle Rodriguez @thebluemonster @smonroe @DougEngland Spencer better in coverage, Kruger better at the point of attack, I guess it depends on how you plan on using these guys, if you plan on keeping Mathis as a drop back guy, which might not be the best thing, then you go with Kruger, if you would rather move Mathis to the Freeney role last year then you grab Spencer.
@LovinBlue also the only player in the NFL last year with 90+ tackles and 10+ sacks
@LovinBlue says he missed one start in 2011 but i dont even know if it was injury related. he started all 16 games in 09, 2010, and 2012