Polian: A Busy Time of Year

Colts' team president Bill Polian talked to the media last week as the team continued its offseason work, concentrating on upcoming free agency, this week's NFL Combine and April's NFL Draft. See what Polian is up to, what the team's priorities are, and more inside.

On how busy it's been since the end of the season:

"It's a very busy time of the year for those of us on the front office side."

On the coaching change and what has him busy:

"We wanted to make sure we made the coaching change with as little disruption as possible. We accomplished that and then you have to make roster decisions and they are always difficult. In many cases there are no easy answers for those kinds of problems. At the same time, you are getting ready for the draft and free agency. Then, negotiating with people whose contracts are up. There are a lot of balls in the air at the same time. And then of course the recession, its aftermath has hit us in a number of ways, so you have to deal with that. It's been a busy period of time from the day we returned from San Diego until now."

On what the Colts will do in free agency:

"We haven't finalized those decisions. This is a very difficult year in that rules that apply that have not ever been brought to bear on the cap and free agency. You have to work through all of them and they affect every contract. There are lots of moving parts to all of this. It's like an equation where if ‘A' costs so many dollars, then ‘B' equals this. If ‘A' costs less dollars, ‘B' equals that and that brings about ‘C.' So you're working with probably 20 plans or offshoots of plans depending upon what the finances end up being, and we don't even know and probably won't know until a couple of days before the league year begins. We don't know what the CAM (Cap Adjustment Mechanism) is. We have estimates, but we don't know for sure. So there are lots of moving parts and pieces to it. CAM has to do with whether or not the league as a total hit the benchmark that the cap adjustment mechanism provides, so I can't tell you. The number that everybody bandies about is 123, but then there's the CAM on top of that. So I don't know what that is."

On adjustments internally from contracts from last year—carryovers:

"That's not a very big factor. In order to comply with the one-time only rules that applied this year, we had to rework some contracts prior to the new league year so that ate up whatever the mechanism and whatever the carryover might be for all intensive purposes."

On possibly converting TE Dallas Clark and S Bob Sanders' contracts:

"We converted Dallas and will probably convert Bob. There are some you can't."

On if G Ryan Lilja is in the plans:

"Right now he is, yes. We'll see. That's a function of health."

On starting talks with C Jeff Saturday, CB Kelvin Hayden and RB Dominic Rhodes:

"We've started talks with Kelvin and they're slow. That's probably a charitable way of characterizing it. That's the linchpin. If that one does not come out satisfactorily for us and we have to take other measures, then that's ‘A', which leads to ‘B' and ‘C.' We'll see. There's still a long way to go, but I'm not optimistic at this point."

On if C Jeff Saturday and CB Kelvin Hayden contracts can be done:

"I don't know. I don't know because what the final number on Kelvin will have to be."

On if the use of a tag would be prohibitive on either one:

"No. If we have to use the tag I think we would use it."

On if CB Kelvin Hayden would be here in some form or fashion next year:

"I would think so. It's up to the agent. We're not going to let a good player go out of here because an agent decides that he's not going to be reasonable, and ‘reasonable' is a relative term. We are playing in their ballpark."

On possibly franchising CB Kelvin Hayden:

"I don't know that I will, but it's clearly on the table."

On valuing Hayden greatly:

"Correct."

On valuing Hayden not meaning he doesn't value Jeff Saturday:

"No, that's absolutely not true at all. There's a lot of moving parts there, there's a lot of moving parts."

On the Colts being spectators in veteran free agency:

"That would be our choice anyway. We don't think the answers lie there. The results of veteran free agency in the spring don't match up with the results that take place in the real season. We always focus on the real season."

On any decision on WR Marvin Harrison:

"No. That's also a function of how we manage the cap, what the CAM is, all those other issues."

On if it's possible WR Marvin Harrison will be back next year:

"It's entirely possible. I can't give you odds on that because I don't know what the numbers ultimately look like, and I suspect we'll go a long way toward the beginning of the league year before we really have a handle on that."

On what he saw from WR Marvin Harrison last year:

"I thought he had a good year. By my count I think we missed five touchdowns on deep balls which were in some cases you had a good play by the defender such as occurred in Tennessee and a couple of other cases Peyton (Manning) couldn't step up and had to put too much on the ball rather than be able to touch it in there and drop it in the smoke stack as they say. In one case, he was interfered with that wasn't called. But for those five or six plays, statistically it would have looked a whole lot better, but there were explanations for what happened other than lack of talent or lack of skill or speed or whatever you would want to call it. If four of those six had connected, then it's a great year."

On if WR Marvin Harrison is still a quality player:

"I think so, yes."

On if LB Freddy Keiaho is a restricted free agent and if it possibly will be difficult to deal with:

"It's an issue. It's, again, all part of the same puzzle. It starts with Kelvin and you work your way down."

On any off-season surgeries of note:

"Nothing of note at this point that I know of."

On S Bob Sanders' ankle:

"He's rehabilitating. You don't like it but it was necessary."

On if fans will see much of a change on defense:

"They will see the same system and the same scheme. There will always be adjustments depending on who the players are, but essentially it will be the same scheme, types of players and approach. Jim Caldwell, when we began discussion last year in terms of how we were going to structure should this come about, made it clear that he wanted to retain the same offensive and defensive systems. There will be obvious tweaking depending upon who the players are, but the broad base of the system will remain the same."

On possible adjustments defensively as far as players:

"That's a question of trends and that's something that they (coaches) are working on right now and they will address that and we'll begin to discuss that in detail when we get ready for the draft. I don't have the answer to that right now. It's conceivable. Things change. Nothing is static in the National Football League. What you have to do is see where the trends are going and what you feel is appropriate for your club. The basic philosophy and scheme of the defense will not change."

On potential issues General Managers will face in the future:

"Most of us have been made well aware of what the issues are going to be. We have the labor seminar every year in December and they explain the issues in detail and the pitfalls. We are all very well aware of what's going on. It's how you make decisions with respect to your own club that is a little murky now because it's always driven by how much you have to spend to retain your own guys. That's the way the system is supposed to be. We are not supposed to have a lot of flexibility. We are not supposed to be able to go after free agents. Good teams are supposed to be penalized under the system. That's what makes the fact that we've been good for so long really rather amazing. The system is designed to prevent that. It's supposed the give the Arizona Cardinals the chance to get to the Super Bowl. It is supposed to weaken the other good teams in the NFL. That's competitive balance. It's what the system is designed to do. There are rules for example when you go to the uncapped year called the final eight rule. The final eight teams are prevented from signing free agents to the extent except those that they lost. The system is designed to prevent good teams for being good for a long time. We are the exception."

On establishing your core players:

"If you're wrong, you're going to be in dire shape. If you miss on some high draft choices and you miss on the players of your own that you decide to pay once they're here, then you can't succeed. The cap doesn't forgive and it doesn't forget."

On any updates on the site of training camp:

"No update. We haven't made any decisions. Like everybody else in this country, expenses are an issue for us and we are looking at every avenue whether it be team travel, training camp, off-season program. Everything that we do, we're trying to be as efficient as we can and there are some areas such as training camp where there are glaring inefficiencies, so we have to try and address that. As far as making a decision where we are going, no we have not made that and it's not imminent. That's for certain."

On guys coming back from injuries and if they are on pace:

Yes, all three are on schedule (Mike Hart, Marlin Jackson and TJ Rushing) and ultimately we will see come summer how they respond. All three are guys who essentially make a living with their legs. We'll see how they respond. Traditionally, particularly with running backs, it takes a full year from the date of injury to really by back 100 percent. We recognize that with Mike (Hart) and that's understandable. It's not only understandable, but it's a fact. In Mike's case, it may take a little longer. For TJ, a year from the date of injury will be the third preseason game. Marlin (Jackson) is proceeding at a rapid pace, but we'll see how rapid come training camp."


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