Colts Free Agency Tracker: March 3rd

With 21 free agents, keeping track of all the visits, signings and rumors can be time-consuming. But ColtPower's Ed Thompson has pulled together the info you need from his network of NFL experts, agents, NFL sources and media reports. Check back frequently for his Colts Free Agency updates!

ColtPower will keep you updated throughout free agency on all the Colts visits and signings through our Colts Free Agency Tracker. Be sure to check back daily (or more frequently) to stay up on all of the activity surrounding Colts free agents, and free agents from other teams who could become Colts!

Important changes were made to this year's restricted free agency rules that are having a significant impact on restricted free agency already. In previous years there were three levels of tenders. A high tender meant that a team would receive a first and third-round draft pick as compensation if they didn't opt to match another team's offer for one of their restricted free agents. A mid-tier offer required compensation of a first-round pick, while a low tender resulted only in compensation of a pick equal to the round in which a player was originally drafted.

This year, there are four levels of tenders, and the newest level is being used extensively so far to try to anchor more picks to their current team. In between the low tender (original draft pick compensation) and the old mid-tier tender (first-round pick compensation), a second-round pick compensation level was inserted. Sportwriter Howard Balzer, from Scout.com's Rams site, noted that "out of the 94 restricted free agents, 23 (24.5 percent) were tendered at the second-round figure of $1.3 million. Five players were tendered at $1.85 million for a first-round pick, while three were tendered at $2.35 million for first- and third-round picks. The remaining 63 received the lowest tender of $850,000."  Ten of the 23 who received the second-round tender came into the NFL as undrafted free agents.

Based on reports we've received so far from our sources, the Colts tendered three of their restricted free agents at the second-round level -- starting guards Ryan Lilja (undrafted) and Jake Scott (5th-round) along with backup defensive end Josh Thomas (undrafted). Those tenders plus that of unrestricted free agent Dwight Freeney uses $12.56 million of cap space, eating up most of what the team cleared in cap space with quarterback Peyton Manning's and Robert Mathis' recent contract restructuring. But it should prove to be money well spent. And in Freeney's case, his cap hit can be reduced with a long-term contract that spreads a signing bonus over the length of his contract.

The team also put low tenders on backup quarterback Jim Sorgi (6th-round), starting cornerback Jason David (4th-round) and Gilbert Gardner (3rd-round). The low tender on David was a bit startling in light of the fact that the team will likely lose their other starting corner, Nick Harper, through unrestricted free agency. For about half a million more than the $850,000 the Colts put on the table, they would have dramatically increased their odds of locking down at least one of their cornerbacks for the 2007 season.

Here's the status of the Colts based on reports we've been receiving from our network of NFL publishers and experts, agents, and other NFL sources as of Saturday morning. Most recent updates have been rotated to the top:

S Mike Doss (UFA): Doss was injured during a portion of training camp which opened the door for sixth-round pick Antoine Bethea to establish himself as the new starter next to Bob Sanders. Doss played well when Sanders went down with an injury, but then tore his ACL. He's rumored to be drawing interest from Tampa Bay and Cleveland.
RG Jake Scott (RFA): The former 5th-round pick was tendered at the second-round compensation level. It won't be tough for him to draw an offer higher than his $1.3 million one-year deal. And for a Super Bowl-caliber guard with a good health history, a team might surrender a second-rounder versus taking their chance on a high draft pick prospect.
CB Nick Harper (UFA):  Harper isn't likely to return to Indy. But he may not get a huge deal either.  ColtPower's Jerry Langton pointed out in a recent Insiders feature, "Although he has been a solid contributor to a Super Bowl champion, the market for undersized, 33-year-old corners who lack deep speed and bring along considerable legal baggage may not be as lucrative as he hopes." Current rumors indicate interest from the Vikings and Jets.
RB Dominic Rhodes (UFA):  Rhodes' Friday visit to the Giants extended into Saturday. He could visit the Jets while he's out there.
LB Cato June (UFA): The former Pro Bowl weakside linebacker hit the open market on Friday. Some teams with early rumored interest include the Ravens, Lions and Panthers.
WR Brandon Stokley (UFA): Still likely to draw some offers despite his three injuries last year that resulted in him only catching 8 passes in 2007 in four game appearances and one start. The Colts could circle back after releasing him, but Stokely was due a $500,000 roster bonus and a $2.1 million salary this season.
DT Montae Reagor (UFA):  Sidelined following Week 5 due to an auto accident that left him with serious head and facial injuries, Reagor was due a $1.05 million roster bonus and $2 million base salary for 2007 so the Colts had to release him. Early speculation is that he's more likely to return than Stokley.
LB Rob Morris (UFA):  Actively engaged in talks with the team that are reportedly close enough that it appears he will be returning.
DE Bo Schobel (RFA): He's the only RFA that the Colts didn't tender. He's unlikely to return for anything more than a one-year minimum.
LG Ryan Lilja (RFA): Tendered at the second-round compensation level since he was undrafted and the Colts wouldn't have received any compensation otherwise. Lilja is highly talented with a great attitude to boot, but teams might not be as active in pursuing him as Scott since he started just five games this season largely due to knee problems that dated back to training camp.
DE Josh Thomas (RFA): The backup DE is a good fit for the Colts. They tendered him at the second-round pick level, which should be good enough to keep him in Indy.
LB Gilbert Gardner (RFA): Signed to a low-round tender as an unrestricted free agent. The Colts get a third-round pick if he gets an offer they decide not to match.
WR Aaron Moorehead (UFA):  He really came on down the stretch for the Colts, but the team will wait to see what he'll draw on the open market. If the price is reasonable, the Colts should make a play to keep him.
KR/PR Terrence Wilkins (UFA): Boosted his stock with a really good season as a returns specialist. But with second-year player T.J. Rushing waiting in the wings, the Colts won't overpay to bring him back.
DT Dan Klecko (UFA):  Carved out a niche role as a FB in goal-line situations and caught a pair of touchdown passes in the process. He did a capable job as a DT as well, but if he gets offered much more than the veteran minimum, don't expect to see him back.
RB James Mungro (UFA): Coming back from a serious knee injury, Mungro isn't likely to draw much interest. He didn't last year as a UFA when he was healthy, so if the Colts want him back, a one-year minimum deal should do it.
LB Rocky Boiman (UFA): Played well on special teams, but unless he's interested in a veteran minimum deal, don't expect to see him back.
WR Ricky Proehl (UFA): Will check his market value, but is expected to retire.
QB Jim Sorgi (RFA): Received a tender that would provide the Colts with a 6th-round draft pick if they decide not to match another team's bid for Sorgi. 
CB Jason David (RFA): Received a tender that would provide the Colts with only a 4th-round draft pick, which was a bit of a surprise since it's likely they will lose UFA Nick Harper. 
DE Dwight Freeney (UFA): Was offered a one-year contract tender of $8.644 million. Long-term deal appears likely, and that would allow the Colts to lower his cap hit by spreading his signing bonus in a new deal over the length of his contract.

 


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