Why the Colts Are Unlikely to be Big Free Agent Players

As free agency starts, and fans everywhere are hoping that “their” team signs “that” guy, I reflected on what the Colts may do in free agency.  With the release of Bill and Chris Polian, the Colts may well change their philosophy with respect to flirting with free agency.  Ryan Grigson, who was part of the management team that made a splash in free agency last year with the Eagles, has the experience and courage to tackle it.

But I don’t think the Colts will be big players this year, for a few reasons:

1. There is not much free cap space for them to work with.  Free agents tend to command higher contracts, and if bidding ensues (as it will for the coveted players), they will also command higher guarantees and more front-loading.  The Colts have a lot of dead cap this year, but will have more opportunity next year.

2. The players who fit best into a “rebuilding” organization are experienced, but younger, players… players who can plug holes and still have time to grow with the team.  Typically, players coming off their rookie contracts are a great match.  Unfortunately, the best of these players are also great matches for teams who have just one or two more pieces to plug for a championship run.

3. The players coming available realize how short careers in the NFL really are, and they are looking to get paid.  Players need to maximize their current contracts, and if they play well, they will often not see another opportunity to let the market determine their value.  Teams with more cap space, or who don’t have as many holes to fill, will easily outbid the Colts for the special players.

So while the turnover in the front office may have foretold a changing philosophy within the Colts’ organization, I don’t expect to see that philosophy put into action this year.  More painfully, I expect to see a lot of “my” guys go to someone else’s team.