Still a Little Tender

As the CBA deadline arrived, we all breathed a temporary sigh of relief as the players and owners agreed to talk for one more day.  This respite from CBA news (the press release was hilariously short) gives us a chance to catch up on the few moves the Colts have made and try to figure out the ones they haven’t.

First came the news that restricted tenders were issued to Joe Addai and Melvin Bullitt.  This is interesting news, because no one has any idea if these tenders will be relevant after a deal is done, but it is revealing as to who the Colts value.  Addai is one of the most important components in the Colts offense, and Indy’s slide in the middle of last season was certainly exacerbated by his absence. At the same time, he’s at the age where it doesn’t make sense to reinvest in him long term.  Under the old, old rules, Addai would have been an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team.  Under the new, old rules he’d be a restricted free agent until after his sixth season (2011).  This gives the Colts the opportunity to tender him (which gives them the chance to receive compensation if another team signs him), without using the franchise tag (as they did with Edgerrin James in 2005).  In essence, if the new rules are anything like the rules for 2010, the Colts can get one more year of Addai without paying him a big money deal. This would obviously be wonderful.

As for Bullitt, the Colts simply HAVE to have a safety.  With Bob gone, Bullitt is important.  By tagging him, the Colts get the right of first refusal.  He can sign an offer sheet with someone else, but Indy gets to the chance to match.  This is obviously a wise move.  Bullitt is important, but not at any price. 

These tenders show the plight of undrafted and non-superstar players in the NFL. The first free agent deal is one when players make the money that will set them up for life. Both these men are coming off of injuries, and instead of being able to get the most money possible, they now find their freedom limited. Neither have made big money (Bullitt was undrafted), and the Colts can maintain control over them until they have no more value.  Addai would cost a first round pick to sign away from Indianapolis, an obvious deterrent.

Of course, the tenders may not even matter, but we’ll let the CBA shake itself out.  What is just as interesting is the list of players the Colts decided NOT to tender including: Charlie Johnson, Antonio Johnson, Clint Session, and Muir.  UPDATE:  Session, Eric Foster and Muir have been tendered.  By not even tendering CJ, we know almost beyond doubt that the Colts will have a very different line 2011.  CJ is a good guy and a versatile player, but he simply isn’t a starting left tackle.  He’s never been so much as average in his two plus years as the starter.  This certainly would seem like a clue that the Colts have a bead on a tackle either as a free agent or in the draft.

All of these players can be resigned, but come the start of the new labor year (which would have been today if not for the extension), they will be unrestricted free agents, free to sign anywhere.  Session is also an interesting non-tender, but not a surprise. Indy doesn’t resign OLBs.  Like Haggler and Keiaho before him, it’s totally possible Session could still come back, but the fact that they Colts are letting him walk is perfectly in keeping with past strategy.

There were two other non-moves that astound me, and regular readers can easily guess what they are: Hayden and Diem were not released.  It boggles my mind that the Colts would want to pay their salaries next year, especially in the case of Diem.  I could understand the argument that Hayden has value but has been injured. The Colts have shown a tolerance for injuries from players they like.  By not cutting them, it could mean that they don’t think bonus money will be cleared for a hypothetical 2011 cap.  It could mean that rumors that they are way over the cap have been over stated.  It could mean that they are just waiting until the last possible minute before a new CBA is in place before dumping them.  In the case of Diem, it could simply mean that they don’t want to dump BOTH tackles in a year where there may be no offseason and no free agency.  Trying to replace both tackles on the fly with no mini-camp and an abbreviated training camp would be difficult at best.  Finally, the Colts could be waiting to cut the players in order to divide the cap hit evenly between 2011 and 2012, an old school move that teams flush up against the salary cap used to employ to finagle extra space.

That paragraph is a long-winded way of saying, I HAVE NO IDEA WHY THESE GUYS WEREN’T CUT.   Both are expensive and barely productive. Hayden is a luxury at best and Diem was just flat bad. I’m flabbergasted they are still employed.

Finally a word on the fact that Bob Sanders signed with the Chargers. While it’s not the ideal landing spot from the perspective of a Colts fan (NFC…preferably Minnesota), it could be a lot worse.  No one dislikes the Chargers more than me, the fact is that this isn’t a bad landing spot for Bob. Here’s why:

  • I hate San Diego, but the Titans, Patriots, Jaguars, Steelers, Ravens, or Jets would all have been worse
  • San Diego is on the way down.  The talent level there has been slipping.
  • We don’t play them next year, and it’s only a one year deal
  • I doubt Bob plays more than 5-6 games anyway.

Ultimately, though, there’s a reason I held off installing him in the Classic Colts until he retires, and that was it.