The Indianapolis Colts, as currently constructed, are a roster that’s littered with holes. Former General Manager (GM) Ryan Grigson, now of the Cleveland Browns, swung and missed many times in both the draft and free agency, which is why Jim Irsay finally let him go last offseason. As new GM Chris Ballard begins to wind down his first season at the helm, there are going to be a lot of decisions that he has to make. This team won’t contend next season, but these three moves will be important in getting them back on the right path.
Find Chuck Pagano’s Replacement
Chuck Pagano’s time in Indianapolis is winding down. Fans and analysts alike were surprised when he was kept on despite a new GM. As is evidenced in San Francisco, among other teams in rebuilding mode, when a new GM comes in, they want to come in with their coach. This is meant to create unity from the top down. Chuck Pagano had a strong start with the Colts, going to the playoffs three straight seasons after drafting Andrew Luck, but the Colts have not made enough improvements under him to warrant keeping him around.
Determine the True Health of Andrew Luck’s Shoulder
Andrew Luck had surgery on his throwing shoulder to repair a torn labrum in early January. The typical recovery time of this surgery is six to eight months. June to August was the expected return time. It’s now November. Andrew Luck practiced for three weeks and a total of about seven days, before he was placed on Injured Reserve (IR). The Colts have kept a shroud of mystery over Andrew Luck’s shoulder for months and this only continues. There has been no set timetable for his return, an exact description of what’s wrong or why they waited so long to put him on IR. Andrew Luck has gone to Europe to get more opinions on his shoulder, and, with the money the Colts have invested in him, the Colts better hope to hear good things when he gets back.
Don’t Get Involved in the Free Agency Spending Spree
The Colts are heading into this offseason with a projected $65 million in cap space to use on free agents and draft picks. Of the top 10 available free agents, based on current salary, four are quarterbacks, which the team doesn’t need if Luck’s shoulder is healthy. Left tackle Nate Solder of the New England Patriots is also available, but Anthony Castonzo, after struggling in recent years, is currently the eighth graded tackle per Pro Football Focus. Larry Fitzgerald, although he has fought off father time the past two seasons, he’s not young enough to be in the team’s ultimate pursuit of a Super Bowl. Le’veon Bell won’t be leaving Pittsburgh, because the Steelers are going to pony up to meet his contract demands, and Jimmy Graham would be useless with the breakout star at tight end Jack Doyle. Of the top 10 free agents available, the only two the team should pursue are wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and cornerback Trumaine Johnson. However, prying Jeffery away from a successful Philadelphia Eagles team could be difficult, so they shouldn’t attempt to get into a bidding war just because they have the money to do so. Johnson, after being franchise tagged last offseason, has struggled mightily this season, as he’s ranked 89th by Pro Football Focus. He could be available for a lower price and the Colts need tons of cornerback help after Vontae Davis was shown the door last week.
The Indianapolis Colts aren’t in total rebuild mode like the Cleveland Browns or the San Francisco 49ers, which means they’re closer to competing for a title. However, they aren’t going to compete for anything above a playoff berth next season. If they don’t do these three things, even that will be a tall task.
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