Dec. 2, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Greg Toler (28) knocks the ball away from New York Jets wide receiver Chaz Schilens (85) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
According to reports from CBS Sports, ESPN, and the Baltimore Sun (yep), the Indianapolis Colts have come to an agreement with former Arizona Cardinals cornerback Greg Toler. The contract is reportedly a three-year $15 million dollar deal, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Toler is 28 years old, 6-0, 192 pounds, and played a lot at the nickel spot in Arizona, where he had 27 tackles and 2 interceptions last season. He was originally drafted in the fourth round in 2009 out of St. Paul's College in Virginia, and, according his Wikipedia page, he was the first player from his alma mater ever to be selected in the NFL Draft.
Toler actually earned the starting job in his second year in Arizona before tearing his ACL, which caused him to miss the following season (2011). He came back and played twelve games, starting two, last year, but the Cardinals did not re-sign him.
Toler, like Jerraud Powers - who is likely on his way out, has struggled with injuries, but if he can stay healthy, he could earn a starting job in Indianapolis, where the cornerback depth was a major problem in 2012. Arizona ran an aggressive, 3-4 defensive scheme during his time there, so Toler should be no stranger to the type of one-on-one coverage that Colts corners are expected to handle.
Indy also signed three lesser known players, ranging from good backups to younger guys with starting potential.
They picked up former Packers OLB Erik Walden (6-2, 250, 27 years old). Walden is a 5-year veteran who has played for the Dolphins, as well as a brief stint with the Chiefs before landing with Green Bay. He is durable, only missing one game the past two seasons, and started 15 games in 2011 and 10 in 2012. Walden totaled 46 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions last season, and may earn a starting spot in place of Dwight Freeney in 2013.
Former Patriots guard Donald Thomas (6-4, 305, 25 years old) is a four year veteran who should provide good depth along the offensive line, though he is still young and has potential. According to ESPN, Thomas has started 21 games in his time with the Patriots, including seven last season. Unlike the Colts last year, New England has a very solid offensive line, and if Thomas proves he can be consistent, he may earn more than just back-up playing time in Indianapolis.
Former Atlanta Falcons DE Lawrence Sidbury (6-3, 261, 27 years old) is a speedy defensive end who will likely make a good outside linebacker in Chuck Pagano's system. He hasn't started any games for Atlanta, which plays a 4-3 scheme, but he should be a great depth player for the Colts if he proves he can cover when needed.
So far, the Colts have kept the big contracts to a minimum, leaving the huge signings to teams like Cleveland, Tennessee, and Washington. That's not to say they haven't or won't overpay for anyone - it's the nature of free agency, but they aren't recklessly opening up their checkbook. Stay tuned, as there is more to come. Grigson and Irsay aren't likely to be done yet.
Keep stopping by Colts Authority this week for a more in-depth look at each of the team's major signings.
While Luck is on his rookie contract, is the time to take some chances. (Easy for me to say since it is not my money.)
Now is the time to try and hit a home run by over paying for some talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball and see if it works out. I admit that I'm ingrained in the Polian way of doing things, but that was when the Colts had a high % of their cap space tied up in Peyton. Yes, the Redskins would "win" the free agency period and crash and burn during the real season. Sure, the Eagles put together the "dream" team and couldn't make the playoffs. But the reason was that neither team had an all pro QB. (Sorry Michael Vick fans, but it is true.)
With the new rookie salary cap rules, for the next few years the Colts will be getting Luck at bargain basement prices. That is a huge advantage the Colts need to take advantage of for the next few years, because Luck's next contract is going to be in the 20mil a year range.
Sure, there is no sense in being reckless... but what good is it to have the advantage of not having to pay Luck what he is really worth yet, and not using it?
I think way too many people are overreacting to Walden's contract. In the end, it's only $16m over 4-years, so... who cares? Overall, Grigson made several shrewd movies and did pretty well. We may be upset now, but we'll feel much better after the draft and when we start winning consistently again. I feel like we added some good depth/special teams guys for not much money, plus an RT, two CBs, and a (apparently crappy) pass rusher. I can handle missing on one guy for $16m/4.
I donno about Erik Walden. A 46 tackles and 3 sacks in 15 games does not inspire much confidence. Particularly when you are on a good front 7 like Green Bay's. $4 mil a year for that seems like way too much.
Although I'm not saying he isn't overpaid (if numbers hold), I don't think anyone they bring in takes Freeney's spot.
I fully believe that Mathis moves into Freeney's spot and who ever is brought in to start (Walden, Sidbury, etc) will take Mathis's old spot.
I think we should be looking at their efficiency in run and pass defending efficiency (not as much focus pass rushing). According to Kyle, Walden's 6th in run stop percentage and 10th in tackle efficiency.
I like the moves so far. Some guys with upside, and no contracts that will break the bank. I like the Toler signing, especially if they sign or draft another CB and can slot Toler in as the Nickel CB. ESPN liked Thomas -- had him ranked 17th in their G rankings for last year. Would still like to see another solid interior lineman or two added, though.
@DougEngland I think we'll make a bigger splash with the guys who are being serious about the tampering rules and visiting team complexes this week. Rumor has it Laron Landry is visiting the team, possibly today, and I heard something about a SF defensive tackle making a stop here too.
@TheGreatMisdirect Agree about this being everyone's favorite time to over-react (see: Eagles, 2012). Just keep in mind that we were winning pretty "consistently" last season too. Doesn't mean we had a good defense. Or a good OL.
The 4 year 16 million is a bit of a shocker.
I've yet to see details on the other contracts other than Toler who's contract is fine for a starter and not too long.
The real key will be seeing the guaranteed cash, of courser.
@matt_has @TheGreatMisdirect The good news about Walden is he is supposed to be a solid run stopper for an OLB. Plays the ball, not just the qb.
@BDiddy Good, I like that move too, assuming the $ wasn't ridiculous. Maybe add a guy in the draft, and the position all of a sudden looks much better.
@BDiddy Even then, come on, it's not like we blew $60+ million into someone like Mike Wallace. I can handle a puny 4-year, $16m contract. It's pretty much peanuts.
@TheGreatMisdirect @BDiddy I'm not wild about penciling him in as a starter with 3 sacks in 10 starts last year, but at least they're not blowing Paul Kruger money on him. Here's a link to an article on him, if I have the right one: http://m.jsonline.com/sports/packers/packers-walden-due-for-a-raise-jb7ilmb-178262421.html