Free Agency: Mission Mostly Accomplished

Some may say Bill Polian and Tony Dungy have two of the easiest jobs in the NFL: Since they have Peyton Manning, they're guaranteed success. However, they still need to keep the rest of the roster together year after year. This offseason, they've done a very admirable job.

With the re-signing of back-up safety Matt Giordano, the Colts have actually had a fairly productive offseason.

Terms of Giordano's contract have not been disclosed, but the important thing is that he has been signed for at least the upcoming season. Whether he was signed to a longer deal than the one-year qualifying offer Indianapolis gave him as a restricted free agent remains to be seen.

Fellow RFAs Darrell Reid, Dylan Gandy, and Bryan Fletcher have also been tendered at the $927,000 level and have not been counter-offered by any other team.

While tight end Ben Utecht was signed away by the Cincinnati Bengals — the Colts had a week to match the offer or receive no compensation, since Utecht was undrafted — the assumption heading into free agency was that, if Indianapolis did not make large tender offers to their RFAs, at least one of them would head elsewhere.

Matt Giordano celebrates after scoring vs. New Orleans last season
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The fact that Utecht was the only defector this late in the free agency period most likely means that he will be the only RFA lost, period, since most teams are gearing up for the draft and will likely only add veteran unrestricted free agents or undrafted rookies thereafter.

Jake Scott ended up signing with the Titans, which was the biggest loss in terms of total starts last season, but the simple fact that the Colts have been able to retain Gandy so far keeps the offensive line intact for another season.

Dan Klecko and Rocky Boiman both signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, which was a hit to the front seven, considering that Klecko was, at times, part of a defensive tackle rotation that also included the deposed Anthony McFarland and Boiman started several games last season. 

However, Boiman was in the lineup because of injuries and Klecko suffered through an injury-filled 2007 season.

With emerging youngsters such as Ed Johnson, Reid, and Quinn Pitcock in the tackle rotation and Tyjuan Hagler and Clint Session in the linebacker corps, though, Indianapolis should be fine in 2008 despite the defections.

And, with marquee signings of key players such as Bob Sanders, Dallas Clark, and Ryan Lilja to long term contracts, Polian and company have managed to keep a talented core together.

With emerging players Clark, Lilja, and Giordano signed and veterans like Manning, Wayne, Freeney, and Mathis signed through the twilight years of their respective careers, Indianapolis is left with few holes to fill this year and in seasons yet to come.

The Colts front office has stayed true to their team-building strategy: signing irreplaceable players at vital positions and backfilling replaceable parts through the draft or from experienced reserves that were previously drafted by the team.

In past offseasons, Indianapolis sustained heavy losses to their roster and were forced to patch the team together by leaning on their talented coaching staff and pressing rookies into action. This year, they have the luxury of using the draft purely to build quality depth and fill the queue for future offseason losses.

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