The Colts made their first deal in the NFL's free-agency period this week, re-signing defensive end Josh Thomas to a one-year contract.
Terms of the deal haven't been disclosed, but with the Colts strapped for extra cash, it's probably a deal near the veteran minimum for Thomas.
Colts fans might not be particularly fired up about Thomas, who made a visit to the Tennessee Titans, but didn't attract much attention elsewhere. But this was a smart move for the Colts.
Thomas unloads on Jacksonville's Quinn Gray
Thomas hasn't been spectacular for the Colts, but he has been a hard worker and capable sub for the team in his four seasons. He's recorded 137 tackles in that time with six sacks. He had a career-high 55 tackles last season and started seven games this season after Dwight Freeney went down with a foot injury.
With just six sacks in his career, Thomas isn't the pass rusher that starting defensive ends Freeney and Robert Mathis are, but he's a solid player against the run and he knows the team's defensive system and his role in it.
In fact, the Colts pursued another defensive end, Tyler Brayton of Oakland, who is similar to Thomas with a little more pass-rushing potential. But when Brayton elected to sign with Carolina, the next-best prospect on the free agent market for the Colts was probably Josh Thomas.
Dome dispute: The plan to auction off seats, turf and other memorabilia items from the RCA Dome hit a bit of a snag this week, when an Indianapolis law firm filed a lawsuit against the Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board regarding the disbursement of proceeds from the sale.
Rogers & Bishop law firm argues that the items from the Dome are public property and the money raised should be used to pay down public debt on the Dome and the new Lucas Oil Stadium. The CIB planned to donate the money from the sale to a pair of private non-profits, the Indianapolis Colts Foundation and the Indiana Sports Corp.
With the auction already underway, the CIB — a public organization — instead decided to just keep the profits from the sale, technically leaving the money where it belongs, in the taxpayers hands.
This entire ordeal has the smell of political maneuvering and power-wrangling on it, and you won't find commentary on that here.
But the lawsuit does have some validity. If the taxpayers do actually own the Dome, then the money should stay with the public, instead of going into private hands — even if those private hands have good intentions that will ultimately benefit the city.
Let's hope the Capital Improvement Board uses the money raised for a similar goal — continuing to improve the downtown area in hopes of getting the Super Bowl in Indianapolis in 2012.
The auction continues at www.buythedome.com.
Colts touring New England: The Northeast isn't usually a hotbed of college football talent, but the Colts have been spending some time in the region lately. A Colts scout was recently spotted at both Boston College and Syracuse Pro Days, and the team also took a look a Columbia quarterback Craig Hormann.
Click here to read Brad Keller's scouting report on Hormann, who's an interesting guy because of his local connections. He was the Marion County Athlete of the Year in 2004 and threw for 21 touchdowns and just two interceptions as a senior at Lawrence Central.
He was also a great baseball player during his prep career, and his younger brother, Drew, is in his first year on the baseball team at Miami (Ohio). As Brad notes, Hormann also interned with the Colts during the summer of 2005.
It's still up in the air whether Hormann will catch on with an NFL team, but he's got a good chance to end up in a camp somewhere this summer. If not, he's got a lot going for him with a civil engineering degree from Columbia. Could coaching be in his future if a pro football career doesn't work out?
James Banks with Tennessee in 2004
Don't bank on it: Another player with local connections also got some attention from the Colts recently — 2001 Indiana Mr. Football and Ben Davis graduate James Banks.
Banks is forgoing his final season of college eligibility to try the NFL after spending last season at Division II Carson-Newman. Banks, who was kicked off the Tennessee team in 2004 after academic struggles, a verbal altercation with a female student, and a failed drug test, had a decent season for Carson-Newman, catching 22 passes for 370 yards and six touchdowns.
Banks was one of the most highly-touted prospects in the country seven years ago, but it's not clear if he has put his troubled past behind him. He had a workout at the Colts' complex in February and ran a 4.58 40-yard dash. That's not going to be good enough to make the team — or likely, any NFL team — as a wide receiver, and the workout was probably little more than a courtesy for one of the city's former greats.
Two minute drill: A few last-minute thoughts before Easter weekend ...
— Sports Illustrated announced a cool new feature this week, called the Vault, where they'll make available every page of every issue of the magazine's history online.
"The real hidden value of this is what it does for search," John Squires, executive vice president of Time Inc., the Time Warner subsidiary that publishes Sports Illustrated, told The New York Times. "We'll have to work our way up the search algorithms over time, but eventually, someone searches Johnny Unitas, and SI.com is going to pop up."
The new search should make it easier for Colts fans to relive some of the franchise's history, dating back to Johnny U.'s heyday with the team.
— The NFL's annual owners' meetings will be held March 30-April 3. The compensatory picks for this season's NFL Draft will be announced at this time, and the league's rule changes for 2008 will be announced.
— Peyton Manning turns 32 years old on Monday, March 24.