The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Sports

March 11, 2013

Colts have plenty of options in free agency

Indy could be aggressive when market opens today

ANDERSON, Ind. — It took just a little time for Andrew Luck to win over the most skeptical of Indianapolis Colts fans last season, with the rookie quarterback’s ovation growing louder each time his name was announced at Lucas Oil Stadium.

By season’s end Luck had thrown for a rookie-record 4,374 yards, led seven game-winning drives and helped the Colts to a suprising 11-5 record and wild-card playoff berth. That was enough to earn him the runner-up spot in the Rookie of the Year race against Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and erase most doubts about his ability to lead the franchise formerly helmed by Peyton Manning.

As NFL free agency opens today, protecting the new face of the franchise figures to be Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson’s No. 1 goal.

“The last guy in the last seat in the stadium can see that (No.) 12’s pretty good,” Grigson said during last month’s NFL Scouting Combine. “You want to take care of him, set the table for him, make sure that he’s comfortable. But you also want to have the best team year-in, year-out possible. You want to have balance.”

Luck was sacked 41 times last season, and many of the early indicators suggest the Colts will attempt to strengthen an offensive line primarily pieced together out of spare parts a year ago.

The NFL allowed teams to begin contacting agents for potential targets on Saturday, and Indianapolis reportedly has shown interest in the top two available offensive guards — 26-year-old Andy Levitre of the Buffalo Bills and 25-year-old Louis Vasquez of the San Diego Chargers.

The Chicago Bears, Tennessee Titans and Bills also are expected to be extremely active on the offensive linemen market. Vasquez might be the better fit for the Colts because of new vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye, who was part of the front office in San Diego that drafted Vasquez in the third round out of Texas Tech in 2009.

Indianapolis also could pursue one out of a deep class of offensive tackles that includes former Miami Dolphins No. 1 pick Jake Long, Cincinnati Bengals first-rounder Andre Smith, New Orleans Saints Pro Bowler Jermon Bushrod and recently released Pro Bowler Eric Winston of the Kansas City Chiefs.

With that position also deep in April’s draft, Grigson can afford to be patient and look for the best value.

“We’re not going to do anything fiscally unresponsible because I don’t want to end up being in cap straits,” the GM, who opened the offseason with an estimated $43 million in salary cap room, said last month. “That can really hamstring you. We’ll be smart how we approach it. We’re going to build this thing smart. We’re going to build this thing the right way.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the immediate focus is likely to be on pass rushers. Reports again have linked the team to the top free agent targets — Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger and Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril.

The Cleveland Browns also have shown great interest in Kruger, and a bidding war could erupt for his services. Avril played last season under the franchise tag and has spent his five NFL seasons in a 4-3 scheme. He played outside linebacker at Purdue, however, and has told Detroit media he is open to switching into a 3-4 scheme like the one run by the Colts.

The Colts also could look to add talent in the defensive secondary.

Indianapolis has been working to re-sign cornerback Jerraud Powers, but they might not be willing to match what he could get on the open market. Nickelback Darius Butler also is in negotiations to return but will become a free agent at 4 p.m. if a deal is not reached.

Among the available players the Colts could target as replacements are Baltimore’s Carey Williams — a reported favorite of Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano during his four seasons on the Ravens’ coaching staff — and San Diego’s Antoine Cason — another player with ties to Raye.

There also is rumored interest in veteran Ravens safety Ed Reed, who recently signed with Athletes First — the agency that represents Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, Reed’s former roommate at the University of Miami.

Despite the flurry of reported interest, Pagano said last month he doesn’t see many glaring holes in the Indianapolis defense.

“I don’t think we’re that far away,” he said. “You get those two guys healthy (nose tackles Josh Chapman and Brandon McKinney) and find a couple of other pieces to the puzzle in the front seven, a backer here, a backer there, I think we’re close.”

One of the more intriguing names cropping up on the rumor mill late Monday evening was Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings. Indianapolis’ own Donnie Avery is a pending free agent, and the Colts could look to upgrade Luck’s weapons cache.

Even with the high amount of cap space available, however, Jennings might prove to be too rich an addition.

One thing appears certain as the market plays out over the next few weeks. After his first season was limited by the need to purge an aging roster and the handicap of shrinking cap space, Grigson will be aggressive this spring in his pursuit of players he believes can help the Colts win.

“Last year I was in a completely different situation,” Grigson said at the combine. “It’s nice to be able to go shopping a little bit. It’s nice to be able to know that if there is someone I’m really pining for, I’ve at least got a crack at him.”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • SPT - HB0729 - Chris Rainey - DK Colts release RB Rainey

    Just two days after earning praise for his playmaking ability from head coach Chuck Pagano, running back Chris Rainey was waived by the Indianapolis Colts on Monday morning. The news was broken in a press release around 8:30 a.m. and later confirmed by Pagano during an afternoon session with the media.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0729 - Andrew Luck - JC 1 Luck still learning

    Wind chill estimates put the temperature at 59 degrees Monday morning at Anderson University. During one stretch of his fifth training camp practice of the year, however, it likely felt much colder to Andrew Luck.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Lions star plays in national tourneys Liberty Christian senior Chris Nunn, a three-year starting guard for the Lions and Indiana Class Basketball Junior All-Star, took his talents on the road this summer,competing in back-to-back tournaments with his AAU travel team, Team Progeny.

    July 28, 2014

  • SPT - HB0729 - Colts practice - JC 046a.jpg Colts Camp Update: ESPN's in town

    The first week of practice at Anderson University wrapped up Monday morning with the Indianapolis Colts working out from 9 a.m. to noon.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0728 - Colts Camp - Castonzo 2 - 278 Castonzo comfortable with Colts' changing O-line

    For all the changes along the offensive line the past three seasons, Anthony Castonzo has been the lone constant. He joined a veteran group anchored by center Jeff Saturday in 2011, was part of a remodeled unit in 2012 and became a mainstay at left tackle for all 16 games last year.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0728 - Colts Camp - Allen 1 - 290 Colts' offense adapting to new arsenal

    Third-year tight end Dwayne Allen suffered a season-opening hip injury in Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders, then watched as left guard Donald Thomas, running backs Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw and wide receiver Reggie Wayne also exited the lineup over the next six weeks. It left offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton scrambling to come up with new ways to attack defenses with an ever-changing cast of characters.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0728 - Gordon art Fifth Brickyard for Gordon Indiana racing fans roared their approval of the kid they watched growing up in open wheel cars as Jeff Gordon scored his record fifth Brickyard 400 victory Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dorer scores JEGS win at Anderson Florida driver Steve Dorer has had career moments at Anderson Speedway, and at other times ones he would just like to forget. Dorer recorded the biggest win of his career when he passed Chase Elliott on the final lap in the 2011 Stoops Freightliner Redbud 300. The next year he flipped in Turn 1 during the CRA Super Series event. He scored another highlight Saturday night by winning for the first time with the CRA/JEGS All-Stars Tour event in the Edgewater Woods 100.|ANDERSON — Florida driver Steve Dorer has had career moments at Anderson Speedway, and at other times ones he would just like to forget. Dorer recorded the biggest win of his career when he passed Chase Elliott on the final lap in the 2011 Stoops Fre

    July 27, 2014

  • SPT-HB0727-Luckwatch-ColtsCamp-094.jpg Colts Quick Hits: Sunday, July 27

    Notes,news and fun facts from Colts Training Camp at Anderson University.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-HB0727-AndrewLuck3749.jpg Change the Play

    Andrew Luck had an active childhood filled with a myriad of sports and activities. Now, he wants Hoosier kids to have that opportunity, too.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

Latest Sports Photos


Click here to browse and buy photos from The Herald Bulletin

Latest Racing News