Free Agency Recap: Colts

We ran down the Jaguars big signings and some of their free agent departures, and just as promised, we are going to examine every team in the AFC South. First up is the five-time defending AFC South Champion Indianapolis Colts. publisher Eric Hartz was nice enough to provide this content.

For the Indianapolis Colts, free agency — the fun parts, anyway — was over before it began. With much of the team's payroll wrapped up in long-term contracts for superstars like Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and Dwight Freeney, the Colts haven't been much of a player in the free-agent market during Bill Polian's time as team president. The Colts refer to re-sign selected free agents and rebuild their depth from the bottom up, through the draft.

This year was no different. The team signed three of three of it's unrestricted free agents — Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders, tight end Dallas Clark and guard Ryan Lilja — to new long-term deals before free agency began. The team also re-signed DE Josh Thomas. They seem prepared to let the rest of the free agents walk away.

Guard Jake Scott, who seemed to be the odd man out when the Colts had to make a choice at guard between Scott and Lilja, signed with Tennessee. Little-used backup defensive tackle/fullback Dan Klecko signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles as a fullback. LB Rocky Boiman was also signed by Philadephia. Both TE Mike Seidman and WR Aaron Moorehead are still available and likely won't be re-signed. The team also cut injured veterans Anthony McFarland and Rob Morris before the start of free agency.

The Colts gave minimum tenders to their five restricted free agents — tight end Ben Utecht, safety Matt Giordano, defensive tackle Darrell Reid, tight end Bryan Fletcher, and guard Dylan Gandy. Utecht signed an offer sheet with the Cincinnati Bengals a few weeks ago and the Colts didn't match it. The team would probably make more of an effort to keep Gandy, who will take over for Jake Scott, as well as Giordano and Reid, who are both reliable backups and the team's best two special-teams players.

With the Colts hamstrung by their salary issues and the rest of the AFC South seemingly improving so far in free agency, it could appear that the balance of power in the AFC South is shifting. But the bottom line is that the Colts still have 21 of 22 starters returning from a team that, when healthy, is on the very short list of the NFL's best. Indianapolis is content to finish last in the offseason if it can finish first when it counts.

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