The reason you didn’t hear much about Ricky Jean-Francois being a free agent this year was that he was playing on a San Francisco 49ers team that was flat out loaded on the defensive line. Jean-Francois struggled to get playing time with the 49ers, but he’ll make an instant impact with the Indianapolis Colts, who signed him to a four-year deal worth a reported $22.5 million.
While the rest of the NFL general managers were sitting on their hands, the Colts went out and snagged a player who may end up being the free agent steal of the year.
At 6-foot-3, 295-pounds, Jean-Francois has the ability to play in both the 4-3 and 3-4 defensive sets, and will be able to plug right in to the Indianapolis defensive line, where some serious help was needed. This is the seventh free agent signing by the Colts, who have been one of the league’s busiest teams during the first few days of the free agency period.
The biggest question surrounding Jean-Francois is whether or not he’s ready to take on a starting role and play for a largely increased number of snaps. This may be why some teams didn’t take a longer look at him. Last season with the 49ers, Jean-Francois played 327 snaps, the highest total he’s had in his career. Cory Redding, who led the Colts in defensive snaps last season, was in on 648 plays.
Colts owner Jim Irsay sent out a tweet about the signing just prior to it being announced:
We got another signing that we are FIRED UP ABOUT…ju$st about to ink deal,pen is in hand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET READY TO BE ELATED!!!!!!
— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) March 14, 2013
There are some that think the $22 million price tag was too much for the Colts to play to an unproven starter, but if you watched Jean-Francois play in his limited time with the 49ers, it was clear that he was a star being overshadowed by other stars. It happens in the NFL sometimes, and the executives who have the ability to see budding talent like this are the ones who win executive of the year.
By the way, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson won the 2012 NFL Executive of the Year.