NFL Indianapolis Colts

5 Free Agents The Indianapolis Colts Should Target This Offseason

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5 Players The Indianapolis Colts Should Target

Indianapolis Colts
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts’ 2013 season came to an end last night with a 43-22 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Divisional Round. Despite defeat, the Colts’ season has largely been a successful one. Chuck Pagano won his first playoff game as head coach and more importantly, sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck claimed his first postseason victory with that extraordinary comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs on wild card weekend.

The season was made more special by the injuries Indianapolis were forced to overcome on their way to an 11-5 record and playoff berth. The loss of running backs Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw, as well as the injury to second-year tight end Dwayne Allen, forced others to step up and earn their place on the roster. After the injury to veteran superstar Reggie Wayne in Week 7, young receivers T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener, LaVon Brazill, Da’Rick Rogers and Griff Whelan grew together as a unit and offer much promise moving forward into 2014.

There are, however, several glaring holes on this young Colts team which must be addressed in the offseason. The offensive line, while improved towards the end of the year, was ineffective in Pep Hamilton’s power running scheme and struggled at times to protect their quarterback. The defense is still horrible against the run, exemplified by LeGarrette Blount’s 166-yard game yesterday. And despite Robert Mathis winning the regular season sack title, the Colts failed to pressure the quarterback from other areas of the field.

Indianapolis is sure to be in the playoffs again next year, because the AFC South is the worst division in football. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans are “rebuilding” while the Tennessee Titans consistently fail to rise above mediocrity. However, getting to the playoffs and getting through the playoffs are two different things, and the Colts should target these five players if a 2014 Super Bowl run is in their future plans.

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5. Branden Albert

Branden Albert
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City left tackle Branden Albert played a key role on the Chiefs’ offensive line this year, but looks to be heading for the exit. Backup Donald Stephenson emerged as a potential starter and it looks unlikely that Albert will be re-signed. The Colts could do with some depth at left tackle and Albert would certainly challenge Anthony Castanzo for the starting position if signed.

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4. Greg Hardy

Greg Hardy
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive end Greg Hardy would add an extra dimension to the Colts’ pass rush and run defense. The Carolina Panthers star finished the season with 15 sacks to his name, and a partnership with Robert Mathis would prove potent. The Colts’ second highest sack total this year was just 5.5 belonging to Jerrell Freeman.

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3. Karlos Dansby

Karlos Dansby
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Linebacker Dansby spent this year with the Arizona Cardinals and was key to their 10-win season. He made 122 tackles, 6.5 sacks, four interceptions and one forced fumble. The Colts’ defense needs playmakers and need to look no further than free agent Karlos Dansby.

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2. Brian De La Puente

Brian De La Puente
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Colts center Samson Satele is arguably the worst player on the active roster and is likely to be cut this offseason, while rookie Khaled Holmes has started just two games. New Orleans SaintsBrian De La Puente has snapped the ball to Drew Brees for the last three seasons and has proven to be a very capable center. He is likely to enter free agency due to the Saints’ salary cap troubles and would be a fantastic upgrade for the Colts' offensive line.

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1. Hakeem Nicks

Hakeem Nicks
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts are vastly inexperienced at wide receiver and there is no telling how Wayne will respond from his ACL tear. Darrius Heyward-Bey was signed to a one-year deal last offseason and has failed to live up to expectations. He won’t be returning to Indianapolis and Hakeem Nicks would add another weapon to Luck’s talented arsenal.