With the questions now emerging on Ed Reed's future with the Ravens, the Colts are one of the teams to watch. With the obvious connections to former defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, familiarity with former Ravens Cory Redding, Brandon McKinney, and Tom Zbikowski, and former roommate Reggie Wayne, Reed has the intangible reasons to sign with Indianapolis.
But that doesn't make Reed the perfect fit for the Colts. The team is trying to rebuild, and has enough veterans (namely Bethea, Mathis, and Redding) on the defense to start building with younger guys. If the Colts can get him for an extremely cheap price, and for a one-two year contract at most, then it wouldn't be a bad sign. But anything more than that could be a hindrance more than a help.
But Reed isn't the only option at safety. Here are a few safeties that could be an option in free agency.
Jarius Byrd (BUF)
Byrd is the cream of the free agent crop when it comes to the 2013 class. Just 26, Byrd is young, has great range in coverage, and is an adequate run stopper. Byrd had the second best grade of any safety in the league from Pro Football Focus, and he plays free safety, the position that needs to be replaced with Tom Zbikowski's ineptitude on display all season.
I'm not concerned about the specific positions, as Bethea really can play either side, but it's convenient in this case. The only problem with Byrd is that Buffalo could decide that he is worth the franchise tag, keeping him off the market this year.
William Moore (ATL)
Atlanta doesn't have much cap space this offseason, and needs to focus on re-signing cornerback Brent Grimes and left tackle Sam Baker. Moore likely will be able to test the open market, in which case the Colts should take a look. Moore is a great athlete with a nose for the ball. He's not a huge hitter, but he's smart about attacking the runner, finishing 16th out of 55 safeties in run stop percentage. He also was one of the best pass rushing safeties, finishing second in pressures per snap among safeties (nine in 28 snaps).
Moore did miss four games this season with a hamstring injury, and has never actually played a full season in his four-year career. The injury thing is certainly something to watch.
Dashon Goldson (SF)
Not everybody loves Goldson after a few down performances in this year's playoffs, but overall Goldson's had an above average year, and would be a big improvement over Zbikowski. Goldson is one of the better coverage safeties available in free agency, although he's not a great run defender. The problem with Goldson is that when he fails in coverage, he usually fails big. He had a couple of really poor games in coverage, but most were very good.
The benefit with Goldson is that he may come a bit cheaper after a couple of poor performances on National TV in these playoffs.
Overall, Byrd is my first choice. But to be honest, the Colts simply have to do something about their safety situation. Tom Zbikowski didn't do it this year, and he won't next year either.