The Indianapolis Colts recently signed reserve/future contracts with six players. Most of you have no clue who these guys are and that’s ok. The players are Zach Allen (guard), Thomas Austin (center), Alan Baxter (linebacker), Marcus Burley (cornerback), Martell Webb (tight end) and Chandler Harnish (quarterback). Austin is the only player on this list who saw any playing time. He played in the regular season game against the Kansas City Chiefs. These are practice squad guys who the Colts want to keep around for the future. That’s what the “reserve/future contract” is all about. Although those deals seem less than exciting, there will be some excitement on the horizon for the personnel that make up the Indianapolis Colts.
It never fails; every team makes roster changes in the offseason. Sometimes those changes make fans ecstatic with joy and hope and other times they make fans cry before the season even starts. The draft alone forces many moves. Trades and draft picks can change the look of a team. Adam Vinatieri said in a locker room interview, “No teams ever the same every year.”
That’s not a reason to be upset. Undoubtedly the Colts will lose a player you probably like and gain a player that you question. That’s no reason for disappointment. The Colts will definitely keep players like Andrew Luck, Robert Mathis and Adam Vinatieri. The question is, who on the Colts roster might be gone next year?
Some of the big names and play makers are guys like Adam Vinatieri, Donald Brown, Pat McAfee, Vontae Davis and Antoine Bathea. After listening to Adam Vinatieri and Pat McAfee, it looks like the Indianapolis Colts will have the same dynamic duo at the kicking game as they had this past season.
Vinatieri said that he’d like to stick around as long as he’s not a liability. The future Hall of Famer is anything but that. McAfee said that “Indianapolis is my home. Everybody in the world knows that.” It doesn’t sound like he’s going anywhere.
Donald Brown leaves one of the biggest question marks. With a healthy Vick Ballard and Trent Richardson, there may not be a lot of room to pay someone like Donald Brown. Donald Brown compared this season to an “interviewing process.” He knows that other teams were looking at him and that other teams will make offers. The question is, will the Colts put enough money up to keep him?
Other offensive free agents include Ahmad Bradshaw, Deion Branch and Darrius Heyward-Bey. It’s doubtful that we’ll see any of them wearing the horseshoe next season. The running game and receiving game has many good parts. This season saw little production out of these individuals. Branch seemed to only be signed as a contingency plan if the Colts made it further into the playoffs.
The place that you’ll see the most change is on the defensive side of the ball. The Colts could not put a consistent defense on the field from week to week. When that happens it’s definitely time for a change. That’s also where the Colts have most of their free agents.
One of the most important free agents on the defensive side is Antoine Bethea. Bethea is one of the leading veterans on this team. He has proved that he can play well consistently and make big plays when needed. Bethea had a quiet year this year. Not many fans or analysts talked about him because of the more dramatic headlines. Even though he wasn’t talked about, he quietly had one of the best seasons of his career. He tied his career high of 80 tackles. That’s not easy for someone who has played the position as long as he has.
He also started all 16 games, which only four other defensive players did that. In fact the 2009 season was the only season in his career that he started less than 13 games. That’s incredible consistency for a man playing a position that is constantly putting your body at enormous risk.
I see the Colts making a strong effort to resign Bethea. Indianapolis has been the only NFL home that Bethea has known. He has expressed that he wants to finish out his career with the Colts. I think that Ryan Grigson will try to make that happen.
Another must sign would be Vontae Davis. He has also shown consistency on this defense. He started all 16 games as well. He finished the season with one interception, 12 passes defended and 45 tackles. These are solid numbers that you can expect whenever he’s on the field. Constancy is hard to come by these days and when you find it you have to try to keep it.
Players like Pat Angerer, Kavell Conner, Fili Moalo and Josh Gordy would also be stong people to sing. They’ve shown that they can play hard and make big plays when counted on. Gordy is responsible for the great defensive play that cost Kansas City they’re final fourth down play in the playoff game against the Colts this year. Angerer didn’t have a career high season, but has shown a lot of potential in the past. Moala and Conner both stepped up when players were injured this season. They offer much needed depth on a hard hitting defense.
There are more Free Agents, with even more uncertainty around them. For the one’s I left out it will come down to money, effectiveness and who the Colts are trying to sign. Grigson has shown that he’s not afraid to make moves. Expect some to go to make room for his next big plan.
Here is a list of the Colts free agents.
Pat Angerer – Free Agent
Antoine Bethea – Free Agent
Sergio Brown – Free Agent
Kavell Conner – Free Agent
Vontae Davis – Free Agent
Aubrayo Franklin – Free Agent
Josh Gordy – Restricted Free Agent
Cam Johnson – Exclusive Rights Free Agent
Jeff Linkenbach – Free Agent
Scott Lutrus – Restricted Free Agent
Ricardo Matthews – Free Agent
Fili Moala – Free Agent
Lawrence Sidbury – Free Agent
Cassius Vaughn – Free Agent
Ahmad Bradshaw – Free Agent
Deion Branch – Free Agent
Donald Brown – Free Agent
Darrius Heyward-Bey – Free Agent
Pat McAfee – Free Agent
Adam Vinatieri – Free Agent
Mike McGlynn – Free Agent
Joe Reitz – Restricted Free Agent