Here are responses to some of the questions received recently. We thank you for your interest in the Colts.
ERIK F. (from Champaign, IL) Is there any particular position on the defensive side of the ball you see as the biggest need for improvement? If so, would the draft or free agency be a better route to take in order to fill that spot?
A: Teams still are sorting through information on draft-eligible players, and they have a little better handle on the pending free agent crop. That said, I am not privy to our thinking. Quite frankly, I don't want to be. I do know we consider all options when trying to bolster need areas. Last year's cornerback situation is a prime example where a number of trades and acquisitions were made to bring in personnel. Ryan Grigson felt very good, as did Coach Pagano, about spending a second-round choice for Vontae Davis. Players of his caliber have to be targeted in a draft's early rounds. The team has five picks in this year's draft, missing a second- and fifth-round choice at the moment. If we have a targeted area of need, Ryan and his staff will take the best approach to fill it. There are pitfalls either way, probably more so with free agency.
CHRIS M. (from Missouri) Do you know when the actual 2013 season schedule will be released?
A: It seems to come out each year around the Final Four and Master's. The announcement date usually does not conflict with a big sports news day, though there seem to be few such days like that anymore. Factors like stadium availability and balancing the schedule with network partners are issues. Teams always want to know the schedule as soon as possible for marketing and operational needs. I would keep an eye peeled for around that time. It doesn't seem to vary a great deal year-to-year.
BOB M. (from Montreal, Canada) I am a big Colts fan and I was wondering if the Colts could possibly come back to Toronto in a preseason game against the Bills like they did in 2010? I was at that game. Also what are you hearing on the status of Dwight Freeney as a Colt next year?
A: Glad you were there. It was a fun time, and I take it you weren't the fan who got loose on the field in the fourth quarter. When/if we play the Bills again in preseason is to be determined. It was a great city and a fun venue.
JEFF D. (from Pennsylvania) I recently tried to subscribe to your colts.com newsletter, only to find out that my email address is on your master unsubscribe list. I don't doubt that I put it there, but how do I get it off and re-subscribe? Thanks!
A: Sounds like a technical error on our part. Please call our office and we will get it squared away.
GARY B. (from Anderson, IN) Do you think we will ever add a new look? It's a new era. We need an alternate uniform.
A: I remember a handful of players in the late 1990s who thought we would change the uniform look going into a new era. It didn't happen. I severely doubt anything will change. There are a few looks in sports that are iconic, and we have one of them. We went back to strictly blue and white in 1988 and in the mid-2000s, we darkened the blue to get back to where it was in the 1960s. I know how important the look is to Jim Irsay. He has spoken about it in the past. I personally think any change would not be a good thing. I think we should leave perfect alone. I don't want to downplay your opinion. I'm sure there are others like you, and thanks for voicing it.
FABIAN G. (from Garza, TX) I know that you are not able to give a definite answer about questions that is involved of free agency. Although I was wondering, are there signs that the Colts organization are willing to stick with Pat McAfee? Pat was a good punter throughout the season and he was a top five punter.
A: Pat wants to be here. We like what he has done for us. Last year, he was tremendous and it was another record-setting season for him. What the team will do, if anything, before free agency starts has not been discussed and may not be determined. We know he has sizzle with fans like you, and rightly so. He's a good performer and a solid teammate among the guys.
NICO R. (from Puerto Rico) With the hiring of Pep Hamilton as the new OC, I am sure many fans would like to know a little bit more about the West Coast offensive scheme he will bring to the fold. Power running with a FB and shorter more efficient pass plays?
A: Pep said when he was hired there would be a version of it run here in Indianapolis. He still is getting rooted with the staff and roster, but you will see some influence in the attack. Getting people fluent with the changes and incorporating some of the old will be interesting, but I know he likes a potent ground attack and a calculated approach downfield. I'm sure players will be receptive and have open minds. There will be a learning curve involved for some.
PATRICK K. (from Westfield, NC) Do you think the Colts will repeat the great performance they had last season?
A: Jim Irsay, Ryan Grigson and Coach Pagano all have alluded to the standard being set higher. The team surprised a few outsiders with the nine-game jump. Playing to 11-5 or beyond is what the aim is. We consider nothing a fluke last year and want a solid year two for the program.
NATHAN F. (from Indianapolis) Do you think the Colts will go after one of the big name free agent receivers this offseason?
A: You never know, but the team did upgrade the position last year through the draft and free agency. I don't think you can quibble with the additions from last year. Targeting that area in free agency again this year might be a bit much.
CAMERON P. (from Houston, TX) Could the Colts possibly make a run at Greg Jennings? I know O-line is probably the main concern, but Reggie Wayne and Jennings would be an awesome pair of veteran receivers on such a young team.
A: Cameron, you and Nathan above share the same question. I think we have talent that has and will mature on the receiving corps.
JESSIE B. (from Baltimore, MD) I'm a lifelong Colt fan, loyal to my boys in blue. What are the long-term plans to build an offensive arsenal for Andrew Luck to have in his O-line?
A: We want Andrew upright and attacking with a full complement of receivers. We know 41 sacks were too many, and we want to shave that. That is a goal, and I bet you see results.
DARYL I. (from Port Perry, Ontario, Canada) Do you see us signing Jake Long or Sebastian Vollmer or Andy Levitre? I hate watching our franchise QB get hit a lot, just hoping we can keep him on his feet this year.
A: Daryl, see above. You, Jessie and others feel the same way.
JEFF H. (from Angola, IN) How is Josh Chapman doing and do you think he will see any playing time next year?
A: Josh is coming along and could have gone some last year had it been necessary and wise. It didn't happen, and he is in the position to compete this year. With the motor he has, I think you will like watching what he can accomplish along with the others on the line.
DAVID H. (from Sebring, FL) Will the scouting department be ready when the draft rolls around so the Colts can pick the right personnel for the team? I'd like to see a perfect draft where every player makes the roster.
A: Count on them being ready. We have a talented department and great leadership. Just look at what they did in last year's draft. Shooting for 100 percent is the target. I don't think any team ever achieves it, but last year's result was solid by every measure.
JACOB H. (from undisclosed) I've noticed since the Super Bowl win in '06, we haven't had a very solid, long-lasting secondary. Do you plan on drafting some CB this year?
A: There has been turnover there with injuries, etc. Some guys like Bob Sanders, Melvin Bullitt and Marlin Jackson, even Kelvin Hayden, had issues. We want stability – think Antoine Bethea. As for corners, it was an area for newcomers last year. Vontae Davis was a great addition, and getting the other side addressed is an off-season aim.
LARRY L. (from Muncie, IN) Pat McAfee is one of my favorite players because of his fun attitude. Can you pass the word to him to get Reggie Wayne on Facebook Friday before Reggie retires?
A: Pat may be one of the most avid readers of our site. My thinking is he will see this. He can be a persuasive booking agent.
NOAH S. (from Michigan City, IN) Will the Colts be coming this far north this year?
A: We have not finalized our summer tour locations yet, but we hope to announce dates and locations later this spring. We are making every effort to reach a wide variety of areas around the state, so keep an eye on our website.
MICHAEL S. (from Heath, OH) What's going on with the schedule that's been posted for the season? When we played the NFC West the last time in 2009 we played the Seahawks and 49ers at home and the Cardinals and Rams away. So, that should be reversed this season? We have the Seahawks again at home and the Cardinals away.
A: Since 2009, the NFL has re-paired the teams in the NFC West scheduling formula so teams playing that division have an equitable number of trips west, rather than having one team do so more than others in its division. In 2009, Arizona and St. Louis were paired together in the scheduling formula, and so were San Francisco and Seattle. We visited Arizona and St. Louis and hosted San Francisco and Seattle. Now the pairings for facing that division are Seattle-St. Louis and San Francisco-Arizona. The formula calls for Houston to host the same two NFC West teams that we do and travel to the same, while Jacksonville and Tennessee will compete against the NFC West in the reverse geographic order. Got that? It's all done to make travel to time zones more equitable for competitive reasons. So, what happened in 2009 stays in 2009. Thanks for a good question and for keeping your head in the game as it relates to your Colts.
CODY H. (from Kendallville, IN) We have a bunch of free money. Who are you going after in the free agent market? Any chance of us getting Manti Te'o in the draft?
A: Our cap-available dollar figure has been reported at about $44 million. It sounds like a lot, but I would caution to think it is a "bunch" of money. Compared to last year, it is, but it goes quickly. Free agency plans are under wrap and will stay there. You had to like the action we had last year, and you know Ryan Grigson will measure his approach wisely. As for Manti Te'o, he was a terrific college player. Where he fits in the draft will be one of the most closely-watched storylines. His media availability at the combine will rival what quarterbacks got last year.
JOHN B. (from Fishers, IN) What are the chances that Joe Reitz gets at least a one- year tender? When people watch the O-line they seem to forget that RB and TE are also a part of the blocking as much as the QB is at getting rid of the ball. Joe had a pretty good year when he was healthy.
A: Joe is an exclusive rights free agent for us, not restricted or unrestricted. From my standpoint, I hope Joe is tendered. He is helpful and professional, very much a stand-up guy. I think he is selfless. Those are my opinions. I would think he would get an offer. He came back from knee and concussion issues last year, and I know all parties wished those hadn't happened.
AHMED M. (from Detroit, MI) I believe we need to improve our running game by releasing Donald Brown, keeping Vick Ballard but also signing a better running back to help our running game. I also believe that Austin Collie should be released so we could have cap room so sign a better secondary. Do you believe these are changes?
A: Ahmed, I don't buy your proposal. We ran better last year, but we all want more. Vick had a solid year, and Donald showed something, too. I know injuries were an issue with him, but it's hard to forget his game at Tennessee, plus the TD run in Chicago. I hope Austin is back and healthy. He has a solid body of work. I wouldn't jump ship on them if I were you.
JAMES T. (from Kokomo, IN) I know you never really answer questions about what free agents the Colts are interested in. My question will ask what you think about the Colts looking at RB Reggie Bush in FA? He would be a good West Coast back catching the ball out of the back field and making plays with his speed.
A: I think everyone knows how important a back is in the West Coast Offense. I don't claim to be an X-an-O guy in the least, but Roger Craig was deadly in San Francisco. Our backs are pretty good out of the backfield and we know them as people. Without discussing players on other teams to any extent, Reggie Bush was a concern when we faced him last year. He had a pretty good day, including a flashy touchdown. It's a flashy name on the list of NFL free agents.
JASON S. (from Joliet, IL) I'm a big Colts fan and it seems like the Colts always play the conservative role when it comes to free agency. This year list of free agents is full of players that would make a great addition to the team. Are the Colts going to take a gamble on any big name free agent in 2013?
A: I would counter your use of the word conservative. Last year, there were a number of free agents who were added and made an impact – Cory Redding, Tom Zbikowski, Mike McGlynn, Brandon McKinney, Samson Satele, Donnie Avery. McKinney was hurt and missed the season, but he is in a position to challenge this year. Taking him from last year's mix and counting six players who ended the year with the team who were acquired by trades and that is
21 percent of the active roster, hardly a conservative total. Ryan Grigson has said the addition of an established veteran through free agency would have to be one who is a "pillar" type player. We have a good chance to augment our roster, but spending unwisely would stunt matters.
BRIAN H. (from Anchorage, AK) What are the chances of us signing Dwight Freeney and if we don't, are there players we have in mind to replace him?
A: Dwight said last week he wants to finish here. As far as what we are considering, nothing has been said. I know the interest in him and other possible unrestricted players is intense. You guys are tired of me skirting free agency questions, but that is all I can do at this point.
GREG S. (from Carson City, NV) The Colts drafted a very good group of young players in 2012. I was most surprised with the play of Vick Ballard. I think he has several 1,000-yard seasons in his future. What is your take on the Colt's 2012 rookie class?
A: I think we hit the ball out of the park with last year's draft class. Any time a team gets the production like we did, tip your cap to the personnel and coaches staffs. Credit the players, too, for buying into the program and being accountable. The staff really liked Vick from the start. He is a hard worker whose play speaks for him for the most part. We have been fortunate during our Indianapolis era with draft picks at running back. Let's hope he goes down the road of Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James, though you don't want to put pressure on Vick like that. I look forward to seeing Josh Chapman move into action. I want to see LaVon Brazill in year two. Chandler Harnish also will be a fun one to watch.
BROCK E. (from Bethlehem, PA) I've been a Colts fan for all my life and I am on the verge of moving back to Indianapolis in June. My question is if Dwight Freeney is released, who will fill shoes?
A: Welcome back if you do come. Regardless of where you are, if Dwight is not we will have someone to help fill the void.
JAY W. (from undisclosed) When is the best time to submit a letter for an autograph to a player?
A: I would guess before mid-June, when players leave on vacation and before the pressure of camp and the season. If you would like to contact a player or coach personally, you may send them a letter at: Indianapolis Colts/Attn: (Player/Coach Name)/7001 W. 56th Street/Indianapolis, IN 46254. Please note that we cannot guarantee you will receive a response, or that your request will be fulfilled as these requests will go directly to the player/coach.
CHRISTIAN L. (from Boise, ID) I have been a Colts fan since 1975. I find it odd that some fans act like the Colts began when they moved to Indianapolis or when Peyton Manning was drafted. Do the Colts embrace the Baltimore history at equal level with the Indianapolis history?
A: We don't mind when fans start following the team just as long as they do so. The team's success since 1999 is one reason why many have come aboard, and there still is room on our bandwagon. I want to thank you for the long support, and the Colts do treat the Baltimore era with the requisite respect. It is a wonderful part of our history. We have relationships with players of all eras and want them to know we want them to keep in touch. Bridging the years is a big thing. In fact, Jim Irsay hosted the 1975 team here last year with a reunion. Knowing and nurturing the past is big for any team and certainly the Colts.
KEVIN F. (from Wrentham, MA) Would the Colts ever consider having a contest in which a fan gets to be in the war room during the draft? Maybe if the fan would agree to be sequestered for the weekend and not speak to anyone? If so, I think the first winner of the contest should be the first fan to suggest it...
A: You think big, my man. In today's marketing age I would not discount it, but we haven't reached that frontier yet. The parameters involved would need to be hashed out to an extreme level. I'll probably inquire about our specific free agency and draft plans before I even flew this flag up the pole. Maybe there is a team in your geographic region that would consider it.
KYLE C. (from United States) I have been asking all year where is Joseph Addai!
A: Joe is keeping a low profile. The last we heard was during last season, and he was living in the Houston area. No one knows his plans, but I bet he would be open to trying to extend his career. His efforts at New England last year didn't work out, and the longer a guy is away the tougher it is to return. Everyone here wishes him the best. He is a terrific guy and was a solid player for us, a very mature individual with a big heart.
DAVE N. (from Miami Beach, FL) When will the Colts Highlights 2012 season be available?
A: Typically, the film is finished in early June. It's always around then regardless of the nature of the previous season. When the team does well like last year, the games get covered by more NFL Films cameras, so there is a great deal more footage from which to pick. From 1999-2010, it was a treasure trove of action footage. I would think there is some great material from last year, so be ready come June.
JONATHAN S. (from Muncie, IN) Love the mailbag, keep it up. This one is just for funsies! What's the one question that you can answer, without disclosing sensitive information crucial to team goals, that I can't answer with common sense or a Google search?
A: I get it and can take it. I love the questions, too, even ones where the NFL calendar ties my hands. If you want the 11 herbs and spices recipe or want me to reveal the riddle of Stonehenge, I'll get that information for you with no sweat. You sound like a decent guy who offered the poke in pure jest. Glad you keep a pulse on the mailbag, and I hope I can inform you of something at some point.
ANTHONY P. (from Camby, IN) Would the Colts be willing to go after a more elite RB to relieve pressure on Andrew Luck?
A: There can be a few things done to relieve pressure on him, but I'm not sure going after an "elite" back is the answer. Donald Brown is entering his prime years. Delone Carter has a little something, too, but he is the first to tell you he needs to remain healthy. Vick Ballard was a tremendous boost. Pep Hamilton does like a power running game with his West Coast influence, so I wouldn't eliminate the thought.
CLARK P. (from Denton, MD) I have heard conflicting reports regarding how the Colts must use their excess cap money. Is there a minimum percentage of the 43 million or so the Colts have in cap space that they must spend this coming season, or does the floor kick in next year?
A: All clubs have a four-year window (2013-16) to spend a minimum of 89% in cash of the Salary Cap for those years. For example, if the Salary Cap were $100M, $120M, $130M and $150M during those four years ($500M combined) each club would be required to spend $445M or more in cash, which equates to 89%. Also, collectively as a 32-club League, the number has to be 95% percent or higher. For example, using the same figures above the League would have to spend $15.2 billion (95% of $500M times 32 Clubs). There is a difference between cash and cap, so don't get too caught up in the amount of room a club has.
DANIEL S. (from Mitchell, IN) What are the chances that the Colts would play a preseason game in Louisville every couple of years?
A: * *Our lease stipulates that we play 10 home games per season. Also, this is our primary market, and we prefer to give our primary market every opportunity to watch and follow the team. There are contracts involving suites and sponsorships that would need to be changed in the event a game were taken elsewhere. Your premise is not a bad one, but it would set in motion a number of issues. We have deep appreciation for fans in your area, and I hope the explanation provides some background specifics that would come into play. We have been in your area with off-season visits. I hope you can take those opportunities to get around our guys.