Ed Thompson: Sorry I missed you earlier this week, but glad to have a chance to catch up with you.
Twelfthman: So Ed, do you think the Pats will face more Spygate trouble?
Ed Thompson: I do. I think it's gathered enough steam in the media that they'll have to take a look at this new allegation involving the Rams Super Bowl. If there is proof that it's been going on for that long, I think there will be trouble for them.
JonEU19: If you're taking questions awhile, Who if anyone do you see the Colts picking up (in FA) as a back up RB?
Ap Photo/Jerry Lai
Ed Thompson: I'm not sure they will try to add much in free agency. I was looking at who's available that might be a good fit after the initial flurry of signings ... One guy I like is the Giants' Derrick Ward, but he's coming off a broken leg, so I don't know if they'll take a risk on him on not. I think they will look to the draft.
Twelfthman: I saw a draft that had us picking Ray Rice from Rutgers in the second round. Do you see him as a fit?
Ed Thompson: Rice is a nice prospect and should be available at a point in the draft where the Colts would consider spending a pick on a RB.
I also like Matt Forte out of Tulane a lot. If he's still on the board at the end of the second round, the Colts should grab him. Over 2,000 yards at Tulane and I met him at the Senior Bowl. Mature, great hands for a RB and good runner inside the tackles.
Twelfthman: Can they block?
Ed Thompson: Yes, both are good blockers.
erichartz: Ed, what's your take on the tight end situation with three free agents? Obviously the Colts will keep Dallas Clark, but do you think Bryan Fletcher and Ben Uctect will be back next year? And if the team does put the franchise tag on Clark, are they going down the same road as they did with Edgerrin James a few years back?
Ed Thompson: The Colts will find a way to keep Clark on board this year even if it means using the franchise tag. That's been set for tight ends at $4.5 million this year. As for Utecht, he's worth keeping for his contributions to the running game alone. He's a reliable receiver as well. I think Utecht gets a tender that will require a team to give up a second-round pick to take him away.
Despite what you might have seen elsewhere, he is a restricted free agent this year, not unrestricted. I verified that tonight with his agent.
I don't think Fletcher is worth a tender at this point. He hasn't caught more than 18 passes in a season and provides little help to the running game. And there are some nice TE prospects in this draft.
JonEU19: So you think we'll take a RB with pick No. 2?
AP Photo/John Bazemore
Ed Thompson:I think if the right guy is available when the Colts have their first pick, they would be nuts not to grab a RB.
Kenton Keith is a good No. 3 back and I like how he runs inside for the tough yards, but he is a detriment to the passing game. If Addai gets hurt, the Colts lose a valuable dimension to their passing game.
Don't forget, I reported right after the draft when Addai was selected that the Colts were going to take Maurice Jones-Drew if Jacksonville hadn't snagged him two picks earlier.
People thought I was nuts, that the Colts wouldn't have spent their top two picks on RBs that year, but Polian verified that fact during one of his interviews at Colts.com later in the year.
JonEU19: what if there is a DE and a RB at our pick who are graded about the same, do you think we go DE?
Ed Thompson: No, I would still place a higher value on RB with DE a close second. The Colts need a second top-back to spring Addai and as a safety valve. They can find a speedy DE in the mid-rounds like they did with Mathis a few years back.
Twelfthman: What's your take on the Freeney rehab?
Ed Thompson: Freeney's rehab ... tricky injury. I haven't heard much about where he is right now but that injury is typically a good four months before you can run again.
Makoa Freitas recovered from his one in college, but he didn't come back to the NFL after it happened to him a second time.
erichartz: Someone asked this question in the forums. Does the NFL plan to continue holding the combine in Indianapolis after the RCA Dome closes?
Ed Thompson: I believe they have two years left on that deal, but I'll verify that and put the answer in our premium forum this week. I may be able to find out more about that while I'm at the Combine in a couple of weeks.
JonEU19: Freeny's injury is what makes me feel they may go DE early in the draft.
Ed Thompson: They should certainly have a good feel for where he is in his recovery, and that could influence their strategy.
Twelfthman: What about Boogers' return?
Ed Thompson: I think Booger's return may be more money driven than anything else. With some of the moves the Colts have made, they may need to clear some cap room ... He's got a $6.85 million salary this year ... last year of his contract. So Colts should be free to let him go and gain the full amount....or they could do a contract extension or renegotiation.
I don't think DT was a major problem this year. I'm more concerned about guard and wide receiver than DT.
I've been told that Lilja is the Chiefs' number one free agent priority. And he's from Kansas, so that would be attractive to him. And Lilja was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Chiefs to boot.
JonEU19: What kind of help is there in the draft at guard?
Ed Thompson> It's a decent draft class at guard. A guy who was really amazing to chat with was Robert Felton out of Arkansas. When I talked to him, he was just a massive individual that I don't know how someone would get around. He's 6 feet, 3 inches, 325 pounds ... might be bigger than what Indy wants on their line at the position though.
They might be more drawn to someone like Drew Radovich out of USC. Or, as I mentioned in my one report from the Senior Bowl, there seemed to be some casual interest in Texas A&M center Cody Wallace. Don't forget that Saturday probably only has a few years left.
erichartz: What about other draft needs, Ed? You said you think they'll take a running back first, but then what? Tight end? O-Line? Linebacker?
Ed Thompson: The Colts will always take the guy they have ranked the highest, especially in the early rounds. But I think they need to give high priority to ... RB, WR, DE, then look for OG and possibly C help.
They have a good LB corps. If they add a LB I would think it would be later in the draft.
Twelfthman: Do you think we have anyone on the roster now that could step up at WR?
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Ed Thompson: I like what I've seen out of Devin Aromashodu. He's got good size, I like his route-running skills and confidence.
Roy Hall will be another good one. I don't think Cro Thorpe will be a starter-caliber guy.
I think the Colts will need to make a tough decision on Harrison soon ... not this year, but maybe next year. He is going to ding their cap for $11 to $13 million annually over the next few seasons. Depending on how he's able to bounce back this year, that's a lot of dough.
I don't think Aaron Moorehead will be back. His back problems and limited production have ended his career in Indy, I believe.
Nice guy, and may actually climb higher on a depth chart with a team that doesn't have the kind of talent at WR that Indy has had. But I don't think you'll see him as a starter in this league anywhere.
JonEU19: Do you think our punter for next year is on the team right now?
Ed Thompson: I think the Colts are trying to get Hunter's attention, but Stanley's a decent punter who can give him a run for his money ... and for less dollars than Hunter is making. Hunter will hit the cap for close to $900k this year.
EdThompson: I should probably head out guys ... I have Red Bryant, DT from Texas A&M calling me at 9 for an interview ... Nasty, run-stuffing DT.
Glad to talk with whoever is willing to show up. Thank you guys for coming in to chat with me!