December 30, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers nose tackle Ricky Jean Francois (95) sacks Arizona Cardinals quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) during the third quarter at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defeated the Cardinals 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Shortly after 3:00 PM Eastern Time, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that the Colts had signed former 49ers Defensive Lineman Ricky Jean-Francois (6-3, 295, 26 years old) to a four year, $22 million deal. Francois is listed as a defensive tackle, but has played both tackle and end for San Francisco, where both 3-4 ends are listed as tackles.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Colts were competing with the Titans, Saints, and Philadelphia, which was Francois’s first free agent visit. Some believed the versatile lineman would finish his free agent rounds before signing anywhere, but alas, the Colts won out before he could leave Indy.
Francois was a backup for most of his career in San Francisco before filling in for an injured Justin Smith at defensive end. He played so well at that position; he began to garner interest from other teams in need of a versatile 3-4 lineman. His relevance only grew as the 49ers went on a late season run that propelled them into the Super Bowl. Francois can play both end positions, and while he is undersized for the position, he can hold his own as a rotational defensive tackle.
Francois had 22 tackles and 2 sacks last year for Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers, and based on the contract, it’s likely the Colts plan to give him the chance to start on either side of the nose tackle. In Pagano’s hybrid defense, the player on the left side of the nose tackle, Cory Redding’s position, is called the defensive end. They go from left to right as defensive end, nose tackle, and then the right defensive end is called a defensive tackle. This looks like the most likely spot for Francois, creating a strong three or four man rotation between Francois, Redding, Fili Moala, and possibly another such as Drake Nevis or Ricardo Mathews.
The general impression if Francois is a very good young player who was stuck on the depth chart behind Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. If this holds true, the Colts front office may have unearthed another quality starter. Stick with us throughout the week for more updates, as well as further analysis of each major Colts free agent signing.
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I am happy the colts are spending the money. This is the time of year when you add to your core with free agents. People forget cheap scate Polian who did not spend money in free agency. This took away the enjoyment from the fans who had nothing to look forward to before the draft. Now, the draft takes on an even greater excitement because Grigs is not done yet building this team to compete for a super bowl title. What are you going to do with the money ,if you don't spend it?All these moves are going to create competition on the field, and make practices more demanding. These guys want to show what the bring to the table.
@unitas19 A good GM signs free agents heir first couple years to fill some holes, but as the team gets better in later years, the focus moves to drafting well and keeping your best players. Early on, Polian was actually more aggressive in FA to fill needs, signing guys like like Bratzke, Burris, Poole, Walt Harris, Bennett, Ismail (dud), Christiam Peter (dud), and Chad Cota. It was our of necessity, and is with Grigson now. In 3 years, Grigson's cap situation will be different, and the team will hopefully be good enough not to need many FA's. the disappointing thing about Polian, IMO, was when the talent started to deteriorate, he was gun shy to turn back to free agency. Might've had to do with being in cap hell, but still.
@ColtsAuth_Kyle Get back to your vacation- Have fun and be safe!
@MarcusDugan What pos. does he play?
@thegator24 He is a 3-4 DE. Redding starts on the left side, so he would likely play on the right, which Pagano actually calls a DT
@thegator24 The new scheme should help a little too. All those deep passes last year exposed him to too many hits, especially w\/ a bad line
@MarcusDugan Same here, if we can get one more, Luck will have no reason to worry about sacks.
@thegator24 no problem. Me too. I keep hoping there's one more offensive lineman on the way now.
I'm just gonna throw this out there! I have been hearing A LOT of whining over at SB... Free Agency is the time of year where NFL players get big contracts. That's the long and short of it! Call me an idiot, but I am extremely happy with the direction the Colt's are going (and have been going). Grigson won Exec Of The Year, for his ability to find talented players. Not his ability to sign 1 or 2 house-hold names. For the most part, I am reserving judgement on ALL signings until the middle of next year at least! Sure Walden seems 'overpaid'. But, almost EVERYONE gets 'overpaid' during free agency! Considering the amount of holes/depth we have addressed in 3 days, this team has a lot more talent to win ball games then just #12. The only thing I'm holding my breath for is 1 more Guard, then we can go BPA in the draft all day long! Wouldn't mind singing a WR to replace Avery.. oh wait.. We can just draft an upgrade there ;) I'd say it was pretty hard for me to decide which one I was more excited about. The thought of a healthy Landy.. or Avery getting signed elsewhere ;)
@NateWalton Grigson had guys he wanted and he paid what he thought he needed to pay to get them to sign now. He's a guy who had about $40 mil to spend and he acted like it but still kept enough future flexibility to deal with Luckageddon in three years. Mission accomplished.
I hope he can offer some kind of interior pass rush. I don't know how to feel about him but I'm looking forward to finding out.
I guess this makes the starting front three: Redding - McKinney - RJF?
@bradicus18 Maybe. Or Redding - Chapman - Francois. If Chapman is as good as they say he is (coaches have likened him to a "fire hydrant," when o-lineman run into him in practice). I'm still wondering if they'll draft a big beefy NT, since they don't have a proven starter there yet.