5 Underrated Free Agents the Indianapolis Colts Should Target This Offseason
5 Underrated Free Agents the Colts Should Target
In a similar position to last year, the Indianapolis Colts will enter the 2014 offseason with an abundance of free cap space. Projected to be around $35 million, only the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders can boast a larger war chest than Indianapolis. Of course, the Jaguars and Raiders are at the opposite end of the spectrum with regards to postseason ambition.
The Colts have 18 unrestricted free agents this year meaning even more cap space will become available, but will obviously leave gaps on the roster which require filling. In addition, several players are at risk of being released after poor performances in 2013. The likes of Kelvin Sheppard, LaRon Landry and Samson Satele immediately come to mind.
With the market set to open for business on March 11, the Colts will have the chance to address the team’s weaknesses, of which there are many. Glaring issues on both sides of the ball became all too apparent during blowout losses to the St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals during the regular season, followed by a heavy defeat at Foxborough in the AFC Divisional Round.
Having analyzed the players who should be at the top of the Colts’ free agent wish list, it is now time to look at potential signings who may be passed over by other teams. With literally hundreds of players set to hit the free agency market, teams have the opportunity to take calculated risks in the hope of uncovering their own hidden gems. Whether it be injury concerns, cap issues or simply a matter of age, several talented footballers will find themselves cast adrift from their respective teams with still plenty left in the tank. Here are five underrated would-be free agents who the Colts should target this offseason.
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5. Anthony Collins
It is no secret that pass protection is a serious problem on the Colts’ offense, and has been for some time. Peyton Manning’s quick release of the ball masked the issue for much of his 14-year tenure in Indianapolis and current quarterback Andrew Luck made the best out of a bad situation. Still, improvements must be made heading into 2014.
Jeff Linkenbach is one of the 18 unrestricted free agents on the Colts’ roster and depth is required at the tackle position. Bengals’ Anthony Collins would be a more than adequate addition to the squad after a standout year in 2013. Collins played just 12 games between 2011-12 before cementing his position as a first-team player this season. Colts tackle Anthony Costanzo played competent football this year, but competition is needed to improve one of the worst offensive lines in the league.
4. Jonathan Goodwin
The Colts are in desperate need of a center with Mike McGlynn hitting free agency while Satele has no business being in Indianapolis next season.
Twelve-year veteran Jonathan Goodwin would offer some much-needed experience on the Indianapolis offensive line and the 35-year-old would be a significant upgrade to the personnel currently on the Colts' roster. Goodwin has started every game for the San Francisco 49ers over the last three seasons having spent five successful years with the New Orleans Saints.
3. Justin Tuck
Defensive end Justin Tuck looks set to test the waters of the free agent market having spent his entire nine-year career with the New York Giants.
The two-time Super Bowl champion is flying under the radar for two reasons. Firstly, Tuck will be 31 years old at the start of next season, and second, injuries severely limited his play-making ability prior to 2013. He recorded just 45 tackles and four sacks during the 2012 season, but returned to form this year with 63 tackles, 11 sacks and two forced fumbles.
The Colts' pass rush is largely ineffective outside of Robert Mathis and provided he can stay healthy, Tuck may thrive in a new setting away from the Big Apple.
2. Jeremy Maclin
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has become a forgotten man after missing the entire 2013 season due to an ACL tear suffered during training camp. With DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper performing superbly for the Eagles, Maclin's absence was hardly felt and the 25-year-old is likely to hit the free agency market as Philadelphia works within its cap restraints.
Of course, signing any player returning from a year-long layoff brings an element of risk, but the Colts need to add a wide receiver to the roster with Darrius Heyward-Bey unlikely to return and question marks surrounding Reggie Wayne's own ACL injury. At Maclin's age, a return to full health is expected and a one-year deal in Indianapolis could prove fruitful.
1. Alterraun Verner
Tennessee Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner had a breakout season in 2013 and is unlikely to be re-signed by the organization as the Titans need all the cap space they can get with a franchise-caliber quarterback yet to be found.
Verner totaled 57 tackles, five interceptions and 23 passes defended on the way to his first Pro Bowl selection this year. His talents seem to have been overlooked in the discussion of top free agents and with lingering uncertainty surrounding the future of Vontae Davis, the 25-year-old could become a legitimate target for Colts general manager Ryan Grigson.