Have you ever played the "Kill-Date-Marry" game? (You may know it by it's NSFW name)
If you haven't, you probably lead a better life than mine (although I certainly wouldn't want to jump to conclusions). If you haven't, here's a short primer: you get three names (often celebrities) and you have to put each name into one of the categories (kill, date or marry).
For this activity, we're going to play the same game, but with the Colts' 2014 free agents. Now, we won't be talking about literally killing or marrying the Colts' free agents. I'm assuming you can figure out what each category means.
NOTE: The tiers really don't mean anything and the groups are a bit random. I just fit them together so I could tell you what I'd do with each of the free agents. So it's not exactly how the game should be played. Sue me.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN
Tier 1: Antoine Bethea, Donald Brown, Pat McAfee
Kill Bethea, date Brown and marry McAfee
As much as I love Bethea, another year with both he and LaRon Landry would likely result in a permanent black hole developing in the Indianapolis secondary. He's one of my favorite Colts, and I'd much rather have him than Landry, but the Colts need a different type of player.
Brown earned himself a contract, but one larger than the Colts likely want to give him. Go get money. I'd still love to have him back though.
While paying a punter $3-4 million isn't an ideal situation, the Colts paid $7.25 million to a player who never leaves the bench, so paying for a top-tier punter shouldn't scare Grigson. Alongside being a special-teams weapon, McAfee is a PR gold mine for the Colts matched by none but Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis in terms of cult following. He's important for what the Colts do both on and off the field. Pay the man.
Tier 2: Adam Vinatieri, Pat Angerer, Ahmad Bradshaw
Kill Angerer, date Bradshaw and marry Vinatieri
Another fan-favorite, Angerer simply doesn't make sense to keep around anymore due to injury issues and an ill fit in the 3-4. If there's a chance that he gets re-signed, it's because the coaches love his attitude.
The Colts need a back to complete their rotation and Bradshaw could be had for a short, cheap contract. But, there's a reason he can be had for a short, cheap contract. He's an injury machine and it's unsure how he'll run at his age after another season-ending injury. He's not the ideal fill-in at running back, but he could work.
I thought Vinny was on the downside after a sub-par 2012, but he bounced back with one of his best years ever. Consider me hooked. If he wants to come back for a year or two, God bless him.
Tier 3: Aubrayo Franklin, Josh Gordy, Vontae Davis
Kill Franklin, date Gordy and marry Davis
The Colts need somebody to split time with Josh Chapman at nose tackle, but Franklin isn't that player, due both to age and level of play. Gordy makes a fine depth corner, but not much else. He's an RFA, so I expect he'll be back. Which is fine with me; Gordy played well in limited time this year.
Not everybody loves Davis, and that's fine. I get it. He's very good most of the time, but when he makes a mistake, it's usually a big one. Of course, that's also a function of putting him on an island most of the time. But it comes down to this: the Colts need a No. 1 corner; they can't go into 2014 with Greg Toler and Darius Butler as their top two corners. Davis is a No. 1 corner. There are a few others out in the free agency market who could fill that role, but none are noticeably better than Davis (in my opinion) nor have his experience in the Colts' system.
Tier 4: Jeff Linkenbach, Mike McGlynn, Jeris Pendleton
Kill Linkenbach, date McGlynn and marry Pendleton
If it comes between Linkenbach and McGlynn, I'd stick with McGlynn for both his experience and his flexibility to play center in a pinch. He shouldn't be brought back to start (if he is, then this truly is the darkest timeline), but he's not a bad depth option. Of course, nobody is crying if he leaves.
Pendleton is an exclusive-rights free agent and played very well in a rotational role in 2013. There's simply no reason to not bring him back.
Tier 5: Sergio Brown, Cassius Vaughn, Lawrence Sidbury
Kill Sidbury, date Vaughn and marry Brown
The Colts have Mathis, Bjoern Werner, Erik Walden and Daniel Adongo on contract for 2014 at outside linebacker. Sidbury never did anything in Atlanta and now has a major injury to come back from. Cut your losses.
Vaughn isn't a bad depth player and has potential to be a playmaker when in dime coverage, but he's too inconsistent in coverage to count on for any length of time. Gordy overtook him on the depth chart down the stretch, and should probably be the one selected if the Colts sign one to be a dime corner, but neither are long-term pieces.
Brown is a special teams phenom. His contract won't be huge and he's extra depth in the secondary. Again, no reason not to.
Tier 6: Darius Heyward-Bey, Joe Reitz, Cam Johnson
Kill Heyward-Bey, date Reitz and marry Johnson
Kill DHB with fire.
Reitz is one of the Colts better depth linemen, in my opinion, and deserves a chance back. It's not essential, but as a restricted free agent, he has a high chance of coming back. But Johnson has an even higher chance. He's only 23, is an ERFA and (although he didn't showcase it much this season) has some pass rush potential.
Tier 7: Scott Lutrus, Kavell Conner, Justin Hickman
Kill Lutrus, date Conner and marry Hickman
He's an RFA, but you have to cut your losses with Lutrus at this point and try to upgrade at depth ILB. Conner is a much better player and a good fit as a run-stopper. The Colts apparently don't love him, because he rarely saw the field this season, but I certainly wouldn't mind seeing him back. Justin Hickman is a coach favorite and has flexibility to play both inside and outside linebacker. As an ERFA he's a good depth guy to bring back.
Tier 8: Fili Moala, Ricardo Mathews, Deion Branch
Kill Branch, date Mathews and marry Moala
Branch was never going to be here long. Kill. Mathews didn't bring enough this season to warrant a spot on the roster next year, so why pay him?
Moala, on the other hand, has been one of the only pass-rushing threats on the defensive line, something the Colts desperately need. He's not going to get a big contract from anybody, but he should warrant a short contract from Indianapolis as they try to find somebody, anybody, to disrupt the pocket.
Have an opinion, or want to create your own (more stumping) combinations? Comment below, or bring it up on Twitter. It's the offseason so we're all looking for ways to entertain ourselves.