For the first time in a long long time, the Colts have the most salary cap wiggle room in the league. They have $43 million in cap space, and all indications point to GM Ryan Grigson being aggressive in free agency. He’s stated that they are going to spend responsibly, but I think it’s safe to say the Colts will be making some larger scale moves in free agency that were not part of the plan in Indy during the Polian era.
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.
(Ryan Grigson, NFLCombine Press conference)
The Colts have a number of concerns this offseason. Chief among them are likely rebuilding the offensive line and going to the market for pieces to fill in the new 3-4 defensive scheme that Chuck Pagano is trying to bolster.
This year’s draft is fairly heavy with both O-Line and D-Line talent. That gives a team like the Colts some room to play in free agency. A smart move would be nailing down one side of the ball in free agency and then playing it smart in the draft. There are some O-Line options in free agency for Indy, but the far better options lie on the defensive side.
With Colts staple Dwight Freeney being shown the door, the Colts are now in the market for a solid 3-4 DE/LB. Cliff Avril is a very solid prospect for an Indy team that’s in the market. Avril played DE in a 4-3 scheme in Detroit, and in college he played OLB. The conversion seems like a reasonable fit.
Avril will be turning 27 this year and he is a versatile prospect for both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. In 5 seasons, he has tallied 39.5 sacks, 13 passes defensed, and 16 forced fumbles. The youth-to-potential ratio is fairly high for a team in need of a player that can play a hybrid role. With cash in the bank, Avril could be a very fitting target for the Colts.
Cary Williams is another potential free agent prospect for the Indy. He was one of Pagano’s darlings from his time in Baltimore which likely puts points in his favor for a team building on the defensive side. The Ravens’ talent in the secondary makes Williams expendable going into 2013, and that now makes him a hot prospect. At 6’1″, 190lbs., Williams is a large sized corner option. In a league where the likes of Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall have told us “Bigger is Better” at wide receiver, bigger defensive backs are becoming a commodity. In the last three years with Baltimore Williams has amassed 133 tackles, 35 passes defensed, 4 interceptions, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 INT converted to a touchdown. If the price is right, he could be a fit for the Colts.
As free agency opens next week expect Grigson and the Colts to be aggressive. They aren’t going to break the bank, but there will likely be large fish on the line. They have the wiggle room in terms of cap space to make decent moves in free agency while building from this year’s draft. It’s a rare situation to be in, and Grigson should be thanking owner, Jim Irsay, for making this financial scenario possible.