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Colts Mailbag – February 12, 2014 (Part Two)

This week, mailbag readers ask or talk about the club’s free agency plans, if upgrading the rush defense is a priority, if help is needed on the offensive line, if Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito would be fits, if moving up in the draft to get Jadeveon Clowney is wise, if the team will pattern itself after Seattle, if Griff Whalen should be a starter, the progress of Daniel Adongo, adding Rob Chudzinski and the size of the salary cap. This is part two of two. Check for part one of the mailbag.





INDIANAPOLIS – Readers of may submit questions during the week and have a chance to have them answered during the middle of each week.  **Submit your question here**.  Here are responses to some of the questions received recently.  We thank you for your interest in the Colts.

BRIAN S. (from Little Rock, AR) How much money will the Colts have toward free agents and bringing players back?

A:  Some estimates have us around $35 million this year.   I don't know for sure how correct that guess is, but I bet it's close and could be a little higher.  I know we will spend wisely when doing so, and I would caution against thinking we will go on a huge spree.  It sounds like a lot of room to operate, but it's not as much room as people think.  We do have to keep the long-term in view.

MICHAEL B. (from Denver, CO) Would the Colts consider moving up in the draft to try and get Jadeveon Clowney?

A:  **Jadeveon Clowney (click here for highlight)** should go very high in the draft.  I don't see us doing anything to climb there but with Ryan Grigson, there is action with conviction.  To get in that position would take quite an effort, one I have a hard time seeing us doing.  Again, that's my hunch, and an admittedly uneducated one.

BRYAN S. (from Lafayette, IN) A lot of people are critical of Pep Hamilton's offense.  There were significant injuries that hindered the execution of the power running style offense, but I liked what I saw for the most part last year.  Do you think we will look at a FB in free agency?  Maybe someone like John Kuhn in Green Bay?  Or maybe the coaching staff could flirt with some formations that put Dwayne Allen in the backfield?  What do you think about the future of the run game?

A:  If last year taught us anything, it was the fullback role in the offense is a pretty vital one.  I see no less emphasis on it this year, but I'm not sure we would attack that through free agency.  We have a number of players who can fill the role, plus we have Dwayne Allen returning as you mentioned.  I think Dwayne can play a huge role in the offense with his talents, and that may be the thing I'm looking forward to most of all in 2014.  The player you mention has a pretty good profile (and seems to be a fan favorite in his current market), but I think we have bodies/talent on hand to handle the FB/H-B role.  I know the run philosophy will remain firm.  Chuck Pagano has guaranteed it under his tenure.  We were capable many times last year, and I only see that improving. 

DALTON P. (from New Orleans, LA) Will the Colts be looking to make a splash in free agency?  If so, what position will be targeted more so than others?A:  Popular notion from many is that we need to target both lines, particularly on the interior of those units.  We made quite a splash last year with about 11 total free agents, many of whom were unrestricted signees.  How Ryan and Chuck feel could evident quickly, if past history is any indicator.  We moved immediately at the outset of free agency in their first two years.  Each year has its own story, and we'll have to wait another month to learn a bit about this year.

DAN B. (from Anderson, IN) For the past couple of years the Colts were an 11-5 team, so close to the Super Bowl this year.  It seemed when Reggie went down, they took a step back.  Would it be easy to say that the Colts need another experienced WR besides Reggie and if so, are they going to get one by free agency or the draft?

A:  We have another star in T.Y. Hilton, and everything seems to be on pace for Reggie to return.  It would be a welcomed return because it was a big offensive adjustment when Reggie got hurt.  I can't speak for our draft or free agency plans (Ryan Grigson would have to do that), but I would think the draft would be the more likely avenue than free agency if we were to add a receiver.  I think we have good, young players who can take the next step for us, plus we are young and talented at tight end.  As I said in last week's mailbag, you never want to think you are set at any position group.  I do think are areas of more pressing need than WR.

SHIELDS C. (from Chattanooga, TN) Will the Colts go after Eric Decker in FA?  He has speed and has sure hands.  Decker would be insurance in case Reggie Wayne can't come back or be the receiver he was, and he would be there years after Wayne retires.

A:  You can see my answer above (and it's just my hunch).  As for the player you mention, he should be in a position of relative strength for 2014 by what he has done the last two years.  Until the free agency period, I'll be careful about addressing any player in particular.  It does seem his current team will let him test the waters.

SERGIO D. (from East Providence, RI) I am intrigued by Daniel Adongo.  How is he developing and do you think he will start getting some meaningful playing time next year?

A:  Daniel is doing well and put on about 30 pounds of good weight (up to about 270) by the end of the year.  He also got some playing time on special teams to cap a year where he covered a lot of ground switching sports from rugby to football.  I'm sure we gave him some specific training instructions for him to observe during his first football off-season, and we will get him into the off-season program when it starts in April.  Whatever the term 'upside' means, Daniel has it.  It will be fun to see him blossom in the defense and make a push at linebacker.  He can be a viable option as we try to step up our defensive game.  We share the same anticipation as you, and Daniel could have a very bright future.  He certainly has the intellect and integrity to give it quite a shot.

EMMIT O. (from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan) The Seahawks were champions because management was able to admit when they made mistakes and move on.  If players like Trent Richardson and Erik Walden do not perform well early, would the Colts relegate them to back-up positions, or sacrifice the season over pride issues?

A:  I don't get the feeling in the least that Trent or Erik are mistakes, or that we ever put organizational pride over performance.  I think you'll see a different player in Trent next year, and Erik had some moments this past year that were really good.  The point is to win.  That is our only goal.  I think you'll see both of those guys making contributions worthy of their playing time.  You're certainly entitled to your opinion, which you expressed.  I don't agree with it in relation to Trent or Erik, or that we put pride before production and thanks for the chance to state how important winning is to us.  Hope you keep contributing to the mailbag.

JOSEPH S. (from St. Louis, MO) Seeing what Seahawks did all season and especially the Super Bowl, are the Colts going take a page from their playbook?

A:  Don't lose sight of the fact that we beat three of the NFL's four finalists – Seattle, San Francisco and Denver.   We competed well with our philosophy and while we didn't get as far as we wanted to go, by any measure we're on the right track.  I know we want to better our defensive presence, and we have some solid components in place.  We also want to run the ball well.  Seattle is not alone in that pursuit.  We also want to take smart shots with our young quarterback, and we share that mindset with Seattle.  It always is trendy for people to want to emulate a champion and while we have a great regard for Seattle and how the Seahawks played, we need to follow our own process.  They certainly are worthy champions for the recently-completed season.  We'll tip our caps to them, and we're looking forward to taking our shots this coming year.

RYAN J. (from Detroit, MI) Why did the Colts hire the former Browns' head coach?  Will he have a role in Trent's running game?

A:  Rob Chudzinski has a solid offensive background and a long relationship with Chuck Pagano that will help on numerous fronts.  Cleveland had five Pro Bowl and AP All-Pro selections this past season, and his talents will assist the staff wherever possible.  It's a great addition for us, and players have prospered under his tutelage.  It's been Rob's pattern for a decade in our league and for about 10 more years on the college level.  Rob should be a good fit for us.

ADAM S. (from Las Vegas, NV) What will the Colts' salary cap be and where are they looking for players to take them to the Super Bowl?

A:  It's a bit too early to know what the specific cap number will be.  We should know in March, but a projection provided in December was $126.3 million.  There are some who think that number is a little low.  Last year, the cap was $123 million.  As far as who we're looking for, you can see from a few answers above that we have not provided any specifics.  When or if things come into better focus, I'll pass along everything that I can.

LINDA Z. (from Columbus, IN) What do you think the chances are of us re-signing Donald Brown?  He was a BIG part in the offense last year.  He's a workhorse.

A:  It really is gratifying how a number of fans have come to respect Donald and what he can do.  You may have been on board for him before this year, but 2013 really showed what he contributed.  His professionalism was really rewarded.  I hope we can do something to retain him, but we'll have to see the direction mapped out by Ryan and Chuck.

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