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News » Indianapolis Colts Strategy and Personnel 2009-02-28


Indianapolis Colts Strategy and Personnel 2009-02-28


Indianapolis Colts Strategy and Personnel 2009-02-28
Indianapolis enters the free agency period with several looming questions.


Who will step in and take over the role that wide receiver Marvin Harrison has occupied for the past 13 seasons? Right now, third-year receiver Anthony Gonzalez is the top candidate. And the Colts have Roy Hall and Pierre Garcon ready to step up and show what they can do.

It's a pretty good bet, though, that Indianapolis will be looking long and hard at a strong group of receivers who will be available in this year's draft.

TEAM NEEDS/OFFSEASON STRATEGY

The Colts quickly signed center Jeff Saturday to a three-year contract the day after teams were informed the salary cap was increased from $123 million to $127 million.

Before agreeing to the new deal, Saturday had prepared himself for going into the market. He said, "I'm fully expecting to go to free agency and see what's going on out there. The Colts have made me an offer, but I owe it to my family to explore all the options before we make a final decision. I fully expect there to be teams that step up and match the things I want and we'll have a future together.

"I feel I've given everything I could to the Colts. I've played as well as I could, and that's all you can ask. Now, they've got to decide what to do, and I do as well."

TEAM NEEDS

1. Wide receiver: With Marvin Harrison gone, the Colts have to find another athletic receiver who can be a game-changer. Is there another Harrison somewhere in this draft class? Who knows? It's a relatively deep group of receivers that will be available this year.

2. Defensive line: Indianapolis has to upgrade the interior of the team's defensive line. Tony Dungy didn't mind utilizing smaller, quicker athletic defensive tackles. Jim Caldwell and new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer might want to get a big bigger but still take advantage of quickness and athleticism.

3. Cornerback: Marlin Jackson probably won't be entirely ready for the start of training camp as he recovers from knee surgery that was performed last season, so finding some quality depth at the position may be a priority this year. The Colts have taken cornerbacks in the past and have hit home runs with Kelvin Hayden and Jackson. But quality depth continues to be a bit of a concern.

MEDICAL WATCH: Offensive guard Ryan Lilja (knee), cornerback Marlin Jackson (knee), cornerback Michael Coe (knee), running back Mike Hart (knee) and safety Bob Sanders (knee) are all expected to be back in time for the start of training camp.

Team president Bill Polian said that Jackson and Sanders will most likely start out on the physically unable to perform list. Hart may also end up on the physically unable to perform list for the start of training camp, but a decision on his status has yet to be finalized.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--S Matt Giordano has proven to be a quality backup and spot starter at either strong or free safety. He has also been a key special teams performer the last couple of seasons. The Colts would probably like to have him back.

--LB Tyjuan Hagler, an athletic, hard-hitting linebacker, has seen his career slowed by numerous injuries. If he can stay healthy, should push for a starter's role. Would seem to be a priority to return.

--CB Keiwan Ratliff came in as a backup defensive back and punt returner two years ago and has made himself a key part of the Colts' defensive unit. Can start or play as the team's nickel back. Should return in 2009.

--DT Darrell Reid was a former collegiate defensive end, who has made a pretty good transition inside to tackle. A very good backup defensive lineman who has carved out a niche for himself on special teams and as an occasional short-yardage and goal-line fullback on offense. Will probably be back next season.

--RB Dominic Rhodes had a rebirth, of sorts, last season after spending the 2007 season with the Oakland Raiders. Was glad to be back with the Colts and his performance showed. Should be back in 2009.

--P Hunter Smith tweaked his punting style a bit in recent years and has proven to be the ultimate team player. Is expected to be back in 2009.

--DE Josh Thomas has developed into a pretty good backup pass rusher who also plays the run well. Unfortunately, the Colts drafted an athletic pass rusher last season (Marcus Howard) and he is expected to push for increased playing time this upcoming season. A toss-up on whether he will be brought back.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered)

--LB Freddy Keiaho (not tendered as RFA) has become a quality starter for the Colts on the weak side. Is valuable since he can play all three linebacking roles if needed. Could be re-signed at less than the RFA tender.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

--RB Lance Ball was on the practice squad for most of the 2008 season but played well in the regular-season finale with Tennessee. May be brought back for a longer look.

--LB Buster Davis took over as the starter at middle linebacker when Gary Brackett was injured late in the season. His return next season is a tossup right now.

--G/T Dan Federkeil is a former collegiate defensive end that has become a versatile offensive lineman. May be allowed to test the market, but could be back in 2009.

--DT Daniel Muir got off to a slow start after joining the team early last season. But the Colts' coaches are intrigued by his ability. Could return in 2009.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--CB Kelvin Hayden: Potential UFA; $43M/5 yrs, $22M guaranteed.

--C Jeff Saturday: Potential UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--P Mike Dragosavich (waivers Browns).

PLAYERS LOST

--WR Marvin Harrison (released).



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 28, 2009

Courtney Roby Name: Courtney Roby
#10
Position: WR
Age: 25
Experience: 4 years
College: Indiana
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