2. Defensive line: Indianapolis has to upgrade the interior of the team's defensive line. Tony Dungy didn't mind utilizing smaller, quicker athletic defensive tackles. Jim Caldwell and new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer might want to get a big bigger but still take advantage of quickness and athleticism.
3. Cornerback: Marlin Jackson probably won't be entirely ready for the start of training camp as he recovers from knee surgery that was performed last season, so finding some quality depth at the position may be a priority this year. The Colts have taken cornerbacks in the past and have hit home runs with Kelvin Hayden and Jackson. But quality depth continues to be a bit of a concern.
MEDICAL WATCH: Offensive guard Ryan Lilja (knee), cornerback Marlin Jackson (knee), cornerback Michael Coe (knee), running back Mike Hart (knee) and safety Bob Sanders (knee) are all expected to be back in time for the start of training camp.
Team president Bill Polian said that Jackson and Sanders will most likely start out on the physically unable to perform list. Hart may also end up on the physically unable to perform list for the start of training camp, but a decision on his status has yet to be finalized.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
— S Matt Giordano has proven to be a quality backup and spot starter at either strong or free safety. He has also been a key special teams performer the last couple of seasons. The Colts would probably like to have him back.
— LB Tyjuan Hagler, an athletic, hard-hitting linebacker, has seen his career slowed by numerous injuries. If he can stay healthy, should push for a starter's role. Would seem to be a priority to return.
— CB Keiwan Ratliff came in as a backup defensive back and punt returner two years ago and has made himself a key part of the Colts' defensive unit. Can start or play as the team's nickel back. Should return in 2009.
— RB Dominic Rhodes had a rebirth, of sorts, last season after spending the 2007 season with the Oakland Raiders. Was glad to be back with the Colts and his performance showed. Should be back in 2009.
— P Hunter Smith tweaked his punting style a bit in recent years and has proven to be the ultimate team player. Is expected to be back in 2009.
— DE Josh Thomas has developed into a pretty good backup pass rusher who also plays the run well. Unfortunately, the Colts drafted an athletic pass rusher last season (Marcus Howard) and he is expected to push for increased playing time this upcoming season. A toss-up on whether he will be brought back.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered):
— LB Freddy Keiaho (not tendered as RFA) has become a quality starter for the Colts on the weak side. Is valuable since he can play all three linebacking roles if needed. Could be re-signed at less than the RFA tender.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS:
— RB Lance Ball was on the practice squad for most of the 2008 season but played well in the regular-season finale with Tennessee. May be brought back for a longer look.
— G/T Dan Federkeil is a former collegiate defensive end that has become a versatile offensive lineman. May be allowed to test the market, but could be back in 2009.
— DT Daniel Muir got off to a slow start after joining the team early last season. But the Colts' coaches are intrigued by his ability. Could return in 2009.
— CB Kelvin Hayden: Potential UFA; $43M/5 yrs, $22M guaranteed.
— C Jeff Saturday: Potential UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
— P Mike Dragosavich (waivers Browns).
— WR Marvin Harrison (released).
— DT Darrell Reid (signed with the Denver Broncos). Reid was very good backup defensive lineman who has carved out a niche for himself on special teams and as an occasional short-yardage and goal-line fullback on offense.