With the end of the 2013-2014 NFL season occurring earlier this month, front office personnel and coaches throughout the league are already feverishly preparing Free Agency. The Indianapolis Colts are no exception. Indianapolis, however, has a lot to build on for the 2014-2015 season. Despite injuries to key players throughout the season, the Colts had another successful season with a second consecutive 11-5 regular season record, a historic comeback in the AFC wildcard round against the Kansas City Chiefs, and an AFC divisional playoff appearance. The Colts entered the offseason with 18 unrestricted free agents; some of which were key contributors this season. Now it’s time for Ryan Grigson, the Colts’ 3rd year general manager, to make some important decisions.
Among these 18 unrestricted free agents, these are the players that the Colts should strongly consider re-signing as soon as possible (in no particular order):
- Vontae Davis- A 6th year cornerback who was one the Colts’ best cover corners and surest tacklers in the Colts’ secondary registering 46 tackles and 1 interception. Davis didn’t put up the numbers that his counterpart, Darius Butler, (54 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 1 pick-6) however, he did emerge as a cover corner, often matching up against the opponents’ best receiver. The Colts should give the young corner a call to make a deal.
- Adam Vinatieri- "Mr. Clutch" continued to kick at a high level in his 18th season. Vinatieri kicked 35 of 40 field goals with the longest being a 52 yarder. He also made all 34 extra-points during the season. The 41 year old kicker stated in an interview in January with Adam Schefter of ESPN that he wants to play for 2-3 more years. The Colts should consider bringing Vinatieri back.
- Pat McAfee- This 6th year punter kicked 73 punts for a total of 3,499 yards with a 46 yard average. This is not a strong argument, however, there are no definitively better punters available in free agency or the 2014 draft.
- Donald Brown-This running back had a productive season especially when he was brought off the bench to complement power-running starters Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw before their season ending injuries early in the season. Brown had a much better season than the former Cleveland Browns’ running back Trent Richardson once he was traded to the Colts. The 6th year running back touched the ball 102 times and rushed for 537 yards (5.3 yards per rush) and 6 touchdowns. He also caught the ball 27 times for 214 yards (7.9 yards per reception) and 2 touchdowns. With the recovering Ballard signed to the end of the 2015 season, (contract was signed on May 16th 2012), Donald Brown should be a useful asset for the Colts.
- Antoine Bethea- A 9th year veteran strong safety whose played and started every game his entire career in Indianapolis is one of the leaders of the secondary. Bethea was also its best tackler with 110 tackles on the season; which was second on the entire defense to inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (126 tackles). The Colts should seriously consider re-signing Bethea because the Colts still had problems stopping the run. They gave up 125.1 rushing yards a game which ranked 26th in the league. His tackling will definitely be needed in the future.
The 2014 NFL draft is fast approaching and of course most eyes will be focused on those prospects. Also, the grass may look greener with other free agents looking for a fresh start. However, the team should also consider signing the men that made significant contributions to their successful season.