INDIANAPOLIS – Readers of Colts.com may submit questions during the week and have a chance to have them answered during the middle of each week. Here are responses to some of the questions received recently. We thank you for your interest in the Colts.
ANDY H. (from Bloomington, IN) What a great season, can't wait for next year. Big names in free agency are often a trap and lead to severe consequences cap-wise. Can you describe your impressions of what Ryan Grigson's approach to free agency will be, knowing that there are plenty of needs on the roster?
A: Ryan talked yesterday about being smart in the approach to building the team for the coming season. It is true the club has more cash available than it did last year when there was an estimated $35 million in dead money. He indicated that while he is overseeing things, the approach will be a group effort at times in making decisions and that any activity will have a keen eye on achievement. What Ryan was able to last year in finding players a little away from the spotlight was one reason the team was able to win. Players like A.Q. Shipley, Mike McGlynn, Deji Karim and Mario Harvey provided great backbone to the team, and they became more of household names when you watched the club perform. Players who are "game wreckers" as Ryan put it always will be under consideration, but what is important is how players fit into the program and how they produce after getting here. I think you will see activity, but smart activity. Splashes can be made, but some of the best moves are made in solidifying the back end of the roster. You saw how the club kept as many "pillar" players as possible last year. You saw how aggressive Ryan was on draft day when he moved up to get T.Y. Hilton. That trade paid huge dividends. The rookie class benefited from great coaching. Their mental makeup matched physical talent, and they were very productive. It will be fun to watch as the off-season unfolds. I'm sure you'll be tuned in.
ANDY H. (from Wickenburg, AZ) Would the Colts ever consider going with the "Blue Horseshoe" logo trimmed in white on the 50-yard line versus the white Colts helmet? I think it would be a classic simple look. Thanks, GO COLTS!
A: Not a bad idea, and it would not be a bad look either. I commend you on your taste. It's never wrong to go with the Horseshoe. I don't know of any plans for changing the look on the field, but you never know. We have had the current look since 1984, so there is history there. Thanks for the suggestion. It is a solid one, and it is great having your support.
CHASON C. (from Tampa, FL) Do you think the 4-3 would be better since (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis would be more comfortable and keep Pat Angerer at MLB?
A: This was the first year of the 3-4 for us. It was a change in scheme for a few different players and guys like Dwight, Robert and Pat had to learn new things. Pat also had to fight through a tough foot injury all season. Both Robert and Dwight had some health issues, too, but I would not look for any type of major changes to the defense. Chuck Pagano brought the system in, and it has great credibility in working in the league. We will benefit by the return of some players like Brandon McKinney who missed the 2012 season. I think you will see even greater growth and production next season, and bet you will like what you see. It sounds like you are fond of the guys you mentioned, and I know your suggestions came with thought.
ERIC M. (from South Bend, IN) Can NFL teams front-load contracts and take the majority of the salary cap hit in the first years, or does it have to be spread out in a specific way? This could be beneficial to us with extra cap space this off season.
A: The short answer is yes. You can do this by increasing the base salary amount in year one instead of giving large signing bonuses which prorate over the contract. You likely would have to guarantee a portion or all of the base salary to offset any amount that you would normally have been given in signing bonus. Obviously, this is something that would have to be negotiated and there may be some pros and cons from an agent's point of view (payout timing of a signing bonus versus base pay). Without getting too technical, there are also some pros and cons from the club perspective, and each signing would have to take some consideration on how it benefits the club. While it is true the Colts have more leeway this off-season than in the past, there still is a hard cap in place. A pool must be maintained to address injuries along the way. Planning for scenarios well beyond the surface is critical to a club's competitive health.