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Colts Are Just Buying a Whole Lot of Nothing in Free Agency

Posted By Chris Trapasso On March 15, 2013 @ 1:18 pm In Colts News | No Comments

Indianapolis Colts [1] general manager Ryan Grigson, the reigning NFL Executive of the Year, is spending in free agency, and he’s spending frivolously. 

His team, a year removed from an entire organizational overhaul, entered free agency with an abundance of cap space, so a spending spree was expected.

With franchise quarterback Andrew Luck in place, the Colts have been aggressive in their attempt to construct a talented roster around him.

Here is a rundown of the signings Grigson has made thus far, h/t Rotoworld [2]:

After watching the Colts last season, Grigson identified the offensive line, pass rush and secondary as facets of the team that needed improvement. 

Luck was sacked 41 times in his sparkling rookie campaign, the ninth-highest total in the NFL.

According to ProFootballFocus [11] (subscription required), only the Arizona Cardinals [12] graded as a worse pass-blocking unit in 2012. 

On the defensive side, Indianapolis managed only 32 sacks, which ranked 23rd in the league, and Dwight Freeney, who chipped in five sacks last season, is no longer on the roster. 

The secondary wasn’t awful, but it was far from spectacular, allowing an average QB rating of 90.1 per game in the regular season and intercepted only 12 passes.

Both proved to be fatal flaws in January. Joe Flacco threw for two touchdowns with no turnovers, boasted a 125.6 rating and was sacked just once in the Colts’ 24-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens [13].

Grigson appropriately recognized the aspects of his club that needed upgrading.

However, the way he addressed those weak areas was questionable at best.

Gosder Cherilus was one of the best signings of the bunch, due to his positional value as an edge-protector. But he’s coming off a knee injury, which is slightly concerning and he did experience ups and downs last year. 

Then again, the contract he received was relatively modest and a big-bodied tackle who specializes in pass-blocking (10 hits on Luck in said playoff loss) was desperately needed. 

Here’s how the Cherilus‘ signing compared to other tackles who inked contracts when the free-agency period opened.

Name Age (at start of 2013 season) Contract PFF Pass-Blocking Grade (2012) PFF Run-Blocking Grade (2012
Sam Baker 28 6 years, $41.5 million, $18.25 million guaranteed  +6.9 -3.7
Jermod Bushrod (LT) 29 5 years, $35.9 million, $22.4 million guaranteed  -3.5  +2.0
Gosder Cherilus (RT)  29 5 years, $34.5 million, $15.5 million guaranteed   +21.0  +1.6

As clearly depicted, the move to add Cherilus, who overachieved last season, wasn’t terrible. 

The acquisition of cornerback Greg Toler, a defensive back who’s recovered nicely from an ACL tear he suffered in the 2011 preseason, was another decent signing, but not one that’ll make a huge impact. With only $5 million in guaranteed cash, the move made sense. 

But the Colts’ free-agent decisions got worse from there. 

LaRon Landry made the Pro Bowl in his only season with the New York Jets [17], but that doesn’t necessarily mean he deserved the honor nor the big contract, for that matter.

Here’s what former Bleacher Report AFC South blogger Nate Dunlevy [18] wrote about the the addition of Landry:

Landry represents the yin and yang of free agency for the Colts. He is almost assuredly not worth anywhere near what the Colts had to pay to get him. They’ve shelled out a lot of money for average players in recent days.

On the other hand, those average players are replacing some of the worst players in the league at their positions.

Based on safeties who played at least 25 percent of their respective team’s snaps, PFF [19] rated Landry as the 65th-best safety in 2012. 

He missed 12 tackles— a relatively high number—and quarterbacks averaged a 97.5 QB rating when throwing his way. 

Actually, the most remarkable development of Landry’s season was that he was able to stay healthy for all 16 games, something he hadn’t done since 2008, his second year in the league. 

The move epitomized the famed boom-or-bust scenario. 

Landry is talented, but slightly overrated and injury-prone. 

Donald Thomas was stout during the 13 games in which he appeared on the interior of the New England Patriots [20] offensive line in 2012, but he is decidedly inexperienced, although he could develop into a sound starter.

His contract reflected that.

Still, money spent.  

Ultimately, the deals given to defenders Erik Walden and Ricky Jean-Francois were the most mind-boggling of the bunch and sank the overall grade of Grigson’s free-agent haul. 

This tweet from two extremely tuned-in Green Bay Packers [21] writers, Zach Kruse and Aaron Nagler [22], says it all: 

Never heard of Walden? 

Don’t worry; you’re not alone.

The last time he was on the field, he we saw him do this against the San Francisco 49ers [25]

Scott Kacsmar, aka Captain Comeback [26], provided a closer look via Twitter:

On the surface, Walden’s four-year, $16-million contract ($8 million guaranteed) doesn’t appear outrageous but, for the player the Colts got in return, it is.

Jean-Francois, considered one of the weak links on a formidable San Francisco defense, isn’t an ineffective player, but he was awarded a starter-type contract, when he’s been nothing more than a situational player on an amazingly talented defensive line.

The 190 total snaps he played in 2012 was a career-high, but he has only recorded 49 tackles and three sacks in his three years as a professional, with just two total tackles in the 49ers’ three playoffs game last season.

Giving him $8.5 million in guarantees wasn’t outlandish, but it was yet another overpayment for an unproven player. 

In summation, we probably should give Grigson the benefit of the doubt after a whirlwind turnaround from 2-14 to the playoffs. 

Granted, we must remember the almost obvious decision to draft Andrew Luck with the first pick significantly helped Indianapolis’ revitalization.

Maybe the Colts’ GM saw something most don’t in Cherilus, Landry, Walden and Jean-Francois. Then, based on his assessment of their fits in Indianapolis’ offensive and defensive systems, he felt the need to do whatever was necessary to sign them. 

But, right now, it appears the reigning Executive of the Year is feverishly buying a whole lot of nothing this offseason.


*Unless noted otherwise, all statistics were provided by ProFootballFocus.com.

Follow @ChrisTrapasso [28]

Read more Indianapolis Colts [1] news on BleacherReport.com

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URLs in this post:

[1] Indianapolis Colts: http://bleacherreport.com/indianapolis-colts

[2] Rotoworld: http://www.rotoworld.com/sports/nfl/football

[3] five years, $34 million: http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/4815/gosder-cherilus

[4] three years, $15 million: http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/5357/greg-toler

[5] four years, $14 million: http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/4937/donald-thomas

[6] LaRon Landry: http://bleacherreport.com/laron-landry

[7] four years, $24 million: http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/4178/laron-landry

[8] four years, $22 million: http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/5122/ricky-jean-francois

[9] one-year contract: http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/5354/lawrence-sidbury

[10] two-year contract: http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/5277/darius-butler

[11] ProFootballFocus: https://www.profootballfocus.com/data/by_team.php?tab=by_team

[12] Arizona Cardinals: http://bleacherreport.com/arizona-cardinals

[13] Baltimore Ravens: http://bleacherreport.com/baltimore-ravens

[14] #Colts: https://twitter.com/search/%23Colts

[15] #Vikings: https://twitter.com/search/%23Vikings

[16] March 13, 2013: https://twitter.com/TomPelissero/status/311914195144822784

[17] New York Jets: http://bleacherreport.com/new-york-jets

[18] Bleacher Report AFC South blogger Nate Dunlevy: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1566763-laron-landry-lands-in-indianapolis-to-continue-makeover-of-colts-secondary

[19] PFF: https://www.profootballfocus.com/data/by_position.php?tab=by_position&season=2012&pos=S&stype=r&runpass=&teamid=-1&numsnaps=25&numgames=1

[20] New England Patriots: http://bleacherreport.com/new-england-patriots

[21] Green Bay Packers: http://bleacherreport.com/green-bay-packers

[22] Zach Kruse and Aaron Nagler: https://twitter.com/Aaron_Nagler/status/311591918947663872

[23] zachkruse2: https://twitter.com/zachkruse2

[24] pff: https://twitter.com/pff

[25] San Francisco 49ers: http://bleacherreport.com/san-francisco-49ers

[26] aka Captain Comeback: https://twitter.com/CaptainComeback/status/311598371666288640

[27] twitter.com/CaptainComebac…: http://t.co/Mmw6UJP5bh

[28] Follow @ChrisTrapasso: https://twitter.com/ChrisTrapasso

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