In Indianapolis, and across the NFL for that matter, all eyes are focused on the Colts’ quarterback situation. Not a day goes by without another rumor or sound bite in the Horseshoes’ ongoing debate over whether Peyton Manning will guide the Ponies for another couple of years or whether the reins are about to be handed to Andrew Luck. But even though this story is compelling and will help determine the future of the organization, there are other pressing concerns, such as the slew of free agent decisions facing new general manager Ryan Grigson. Not only are more than a dozen current Colts poised to hit the open market, but Grigson has made some noise indicating that the team might actually dabble in picking up some non-Indy free agents, something they avoided like the plague during the Bill Polian years.
With that background, here are a few of the players on the Colts’ radar as free agency heats up for 2012.
Their own …
Jeff Saturday, Indianapolis Colts, C
Aside from who lines up under center this coming season, the question of who will actually be the center may be one of the Colts’ more interesting dilemma’s. Saturday has been Manning’s longtime protector and was a bigwig among the player’s in last seasons lockout negotiations. Still, Saturday plays one of the more demanding positions on the field and now has 10 years under his belt and a lot of wear and tear on his body. If the Colts bring him back, it probably won’t be for premium money, and he might find the pickings slim elsewhere.
Robert Mathis, Indianapolis Colts, DE
Mathis is the slightly less-celebrated bookend to Dwight Freeney’s shining superstar. He is a terror for opposing quarterbacks and is one of the few steady influences remaining for the Colts. Fans love him, and the team’s brass generally seems to be in head-nodding mode when he’s mentioned. He should be back.
Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts, WRs
So let’s go ahead and say it: Peyton Manning makes receivers better. Much better. Which isn’t to say that Reggie Wayne is an average talent, but he hit the career lottery when the Colts drafted him, as did Garcon and Gonzalez. With about 1300 yards in five years, Gonzalez has been an injury-riddled bust, and Garcon is a highlight reel waiting to happen, but he is also a dropped-ball machine. My guess is that Garcon and Gonzalez will walk, and that Wayne’s age may make him cheap enough for the Colts to keep.
Jacob Tamme, Indianapolis Colts, TE
Tamme is Dallas Clark’s understudy and has performed admirably in that role when Clark has been hit with injuries. Still, the Colts have been pretty good at grooming TEs, and they won’t pay a premium to keep Tamme.
The outsiders …
Carlos Rogers, San Francisco 49ers, CB
The Colts’ secondary looked like the second coming of the Patriots’ secondary. They’re going to need help if the 3-4 is to succeed, and Rogers could play a big part and fill a big hole.
Michael Griffin, Tennessee Titans, FS
Sure, Griffin is inconsistent, but he seems to have become expendable in Nashville. If the Colts can get him at a relative bargain, Griffin might also be a fit in the Blue and White secondary.
Donovan McNabb, Minnesota Vikings, QB
OK, OK … we need more quarterback talk in Indianapolis like we need another Jim Irsay tweet, but hear me out. If the Colts cut ties with Manning and draft Luck, we’re still faced with the fact that Indy has zero depth at QB. McNabb is playing out the string, but he could undoubtedly take the field at a moment’s notice and is not likely to pull the Kerry Collins deer-in-headlights act that we saw early in 2011.
Antonio Garay, San Diego Chargers, NT
If the 3-4 comes into play, the Colts need a bona fide nose tackle, and Garay has played that role well in San Diego. Seeing a legitimate big man up front would be an unusual sight in Indy, to be sure, but something has to change, right?
Are these picks speculative? You betcha, but so is just about everything else at this point in the NFL year. The only thing that is certain for the Indianapolis Colts right now is that more changes are in the air. Hold on for a wild free agency ride, Horseshoe fans!
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