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Are Colts Missing Out In Free Agency?

The legal tampering period has brought numerous reported deals around the NFL. But everything is very quiet on the Colts' front.

Robin Alman | Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS – The question all along with the Colts in free agency was this:


Would they be willing to spend?


Money is not an issue for Indianapolis in 2018.


And the needs are certainly all over the roster for money to be used in Chris Ballard’s second season.


But with free agency officially starting on Wednesday, the reported deals are already flying around the NFL. However, none of the top names at major positions of need are apparently heading to the Colts.


The top two wide receivers---Allen Robinson (Bears for 3 years and $14 million) and Sammy Watkins (Chiefs for 3 years and $16 million) have reportedly found homes.


All-Pro offensive guard Andrew Norwell is heading to the Jaguars after becoming the NFL’s highest paid guard on a 5-year, $13.3-million deal. The top O-lineman this offseason, at the most pressing area to address for the Colts, is now heading to the best team in the AFC South.


On defense, former Dallas inside linebacker Anthony Hitchens was probably the most popular name associated with the Colts in recent weeks. But the Matt Eberflus’ connection and switching to a 4-3 defense didn’t align up with the Colts and Hitchens, who reportedly will sign with the Chiefs for $9 million per year.


Those deals can become official when the new league year starts on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m.


With the Colts supposedly missing out on this top-end talent (reports had them in the mix for Watkins and Norwell), the question has to be asked:


Are the Colts squandering an opportunity to try and fill some needs before April’s Draft rolls around?


They are (if these deals do indeed turn into actual contracts).


Sure, there are definite concerns in spending too much in free agency. Building through the draft is the right path when constructing a roster. Thinking Ballard would spend freely in March was always a question. He’s a guy who has been steadfast in not wanting to hand out ‘A’ money on a ‘B’ player.


But when you are the state of 2018 Colts, you cannot ignore a chance to use free agency to clog up holes that will not be totally solved through the draft.


Those that believe spending in free agency is a guaranteed disaster are flat out wrong. Last year, we saw several of the biggest spenders in March end their season in the playoffs.


With more than $70 million to spend in free agency, and not too much of that will be needed for re-signings this offseason or even in 2019, the Colts can still be active this time of year while not tying their hands cap wise down the road.


If the Colts remain pretty quiet in the coming weeks, one would have to think the possibility of trading down come draft time might rise. The abundance of needs has to be addressed somehow. Acquiring more draft picks, and trading down from No. 3 overall, would make sense.


For those making the argument that the Colts never used free agency too extensively under Bill Polian need to remember how successful the team was in hitting on early draft picks during that time period.


Nailing draft picks in early rounds has not happened much over the last decade, hence the reason for the Colts to have to use free agency at some level, while knowing how vital the draft will be in re-building this roster.


Still, when you have the resources you do in free agency, and the needs are this many, not finding high-level players in can definitely delay how quickly things might get turned around.


“Free agency is dangerous,” Ballard warned a few weeks. “You are paying a lot of money to a player that you don’t know, who is coming from a different culture and coming into your building. You have to be very selective in what you do.”


But the GM also acknowledged the state of the roster.


“Look, we are 4-12,” Ballard also said.


“Do we need upgrades at a lot of spots? Absolutely. Do we need more difference makers? Absolutely.”


Where will those upgrades be coming?


Let’s take a look at how the Colts’ rookies progressed through the offseason program and their outlook heading into Training Camp.
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With the Colts now off for summer vacation, let’s try and trim down the 90-man roster to 53 guys ahead of Training Camp.
After OTAs and minicamp, here’s a look at how the Colts lined up during the team’s offseason program this spring.
Matt Slauson, 32, comes to the Colts as the second oldest player on the team. What should fans expect from Slauson?