For one day, at least , the Indianapolis Colts and their fans (us) get to take Peyton Manning off the back burner and focus on the team’s real, current free agents. Today, you see, is the day that teams must designate a player as their “franchise” body if they intend to do so. The Colts have a handful of big-name free agents this off-season, but only two really merit consideration in this conversation: Robert Mathis and Pierre Garcon. From all indications, Mathis and the Colts have warmed to each other in recent days, and the general feeling is that Mathis might truly bristle at the franchise tag, to the point of being a distraction on the team. (Which begs the question of whether they shouldn’t just let him walk.). Garcon is one of the somewhat hot names on the FA market for 2012, so he won’t come cheaply if the Colts have to bid against other teams for his services, but is he a franchise player? I guess he is, if you want to build around a guy with a propensity for big catches and big drops and some potential issues bubbling under the surface in terms of personal interactions.
Let’s just start over, OK? To be clear, no one is vital to a 2-14 team except the guy whose absence caused the collapse. And he’s old and hurt.