Peyton Manning may seem like the only Colts player that matters, but Indianapolis has plenty of big questions to answer this year in free agency, whenever it hits.
Here’s a look at the team’s offseason priorities, focusing mostly on players likely headed for unrestricted free agency.
The Big One: Peyton Manning.
We’ve covered this topic plenty. The only question is whether Manning gets his long-term deal before or after March 4. In the meantime, he has the highest franchise tag number in league history: $23 million.
The Key Ingredients: Running back Joseph Addai, linebacker Clint Session, and safety Melvin Bullitt.
Addai’s value to the Colts was realized by his absence. Donald Brown doesn’t seem ready to take on a bigger role and Addai is great in the passing game. A rookie may make sense if Addai is too costly.
Session is a valuable and underrated playmaker. There is a line of thinking the Colts are prepared to let him walk because they have Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner around. Letting linebackers walk is usually what the Colts do.
Bullitt is annual Bob Sanders insurance, and probably wouldn’t cost much to keep.
Role Players: Kicker Adam Vinatieri, tackle Charlie Johnson, defensive tackle Antonio Johnson, and defensive tackle Dan Muir.
Vinatieri is a big name, but he’s ultimately replaceable. Johnson started 15 games at left tackle last year and only makes sense to bring back as a backup. Johnson and Muir were Super Bowl starters, but Muir fell off in 2010. Johnson is more likely to return.
Dealing with injured players
The Colts are in great shape to improve without doing a thing this offseason because they had 17 players on injured reserve. Dallas Clark, Kelvin Hayden, Austin Collie, and Jerraud Powers are the key guys they will get back.
This is one of the teams that could get a competitive advantage from a lockout because of their continuity.