INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of Colts.com can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Wednesday or Saturday mailbag.
Here is the collection of Wednesday questions:Matthew R. (Texas)
If the Panthers do not franchise tag Josh Norman, what are the chances we go after him? I believe there is a big chance he would sign and it would be great to have him across from Vontae.
Bowen: Josh Norman is going to demand (and warrant) a massive, massive contract (if he does hit the open market). I just don't see how the Colts have the money that would be needed to bring Norman to Indianapolis. Yes, a starting cornerback is a must this offseason, but Norman is in a class by himself.
Paul C. (Illinois)
There is an interesting article in the Indianapolis Business Journal today about QB's and the salary cap. The top 4 paid QB's (Brees, Rivers, Stafford, and Ryan) take up 14-17% of their teams' cap, and all missed the playoffs. The next 3 (Rodgers, P. Manning, and Roethlisberger) take up 12-13% of the cap, and all made the playoffs. It seems like 12-13% of the cap is the sweet spot for QB salary, where the QB makes "elite" money, but does not handcuff the team from building a championship team around him.
Is it possible to structure Andrew Luck's next contract based on percentage of the Colts' cap? In this case, you guarantee the terms (12.5% of the cap) and the duration (5 years), rather than an actual dollar amount. This would give the Colts cost certainty with respect to the cap -- which is what they really care about -- yet guarantees Luck the amount ($100+ million) that Irsay alluded to. It also guarantees that Luck would not be underpaid when the salary cap increases. At a $155 million cap this year, that would be $19.4 million for Luck. If the cap increases to $180 million in a few years, that would be $22.5 million for Luck. Those numbers sound about right to me for Luck. Everybody wins.
What do you think of this idea, and is it even feasible under NFL contract rules?
Bowen: Paul, I read the same article and there were some great points in there. Those numbers do sound pretty good, for both parties involved. Ever since Luck was drafted and immediately living up to the hype, the Colts knew this day/time was coming. That's a benefit for the personnel department. They knew Luck's second contract was going to be substantial so preparing for that was a must. I'd be shocked if Luck's contract wasn't structured in a way the Colts have to have to continue to acquire needed parts.
Nick P. (Martinsville, IN)
What would categorize as our top 5 positional needs?
I'd say C, RG, RT, CB2, OLB, Nickleback, NT, DE and RB2. We've got some young talent that seems capable of fulfilling those needs with Anderson, Perry, Djoun Smith. Langford played well this year but we are lacking a legitimate pass rush to contend for a super bowl. Wether it be depth or upgrades in talent something has to change. The most frustrating thing is the lack of attention I see being given to our offensive line. The only players that I felt did decent were Castanzo and Mewhort. We need to give real attention to our line. We can pay Luck more money than any QB in NFL history but if he gets hit 90+ times then you can expect to have a very high paid bench player (due to injury). The Cowboys struggled last year but 2014 they were dangerous because of their strength at the offensive line. I'm hoping to see the colts focus on some free agency additions to our weaknesses at OLB CB NT G C. We need proven talent and the first round will hopefully be only an offensive lineman. I'm curious to what the colts organization see as our top needs to become super bowl contenders.
Bowen: In my opinion, my biggest positions of need this offseason are as followed: linebacker, cornerback, interior offensive line, running back and interior offensive line. That's how I view things with an importance on linebacker because you don't have a lot of young depth there (inside or outside).
Joey K. (New York)
Long time reader from New York, Mr. Bowen
love your work.
If the Colts do take a offensive linemen in round 1, is there inside/outside linerbacker depth in rounds 2,3, and 4?
it is also well known that this draft is DEEP in defensive line, but we dont really need defensive line.. does this increase the odds that higher skilled line backers will fall?
Bowen: Thanks for the kind words and readership, Joey. You are spot on with the defensive line depth in this year's draft. Some mocks have had nearly a dozen defensive linemen going into Round One. That's an incredible amount. It doesn't sound like linebacker is crazy deep (like defensive line), but there's still some quality within that group. Therefore I do see some linebackers potentially dropping in April. I'm with you in that linebacker is more of a need to me than defensive line.
Izzy O. (San Diego)
Kevin, I want to see our Colts playing in Super Bowl 51.. I think with Andrew 100% and we keep Feeding Moncrief & the Ghost and Gore with one year left in the tank we should be set on offense and really only focus on OL for the soon to be Greatest QB to play the game in the later rounds of the draft and FA (Alex Mack). Starting from Center to RG to RT (RT being last because I think Philbin will make Denzelle Goode a premier RT).. we all saw how Andrew and the receivers performed vs the #1 defense vs the Broncos.. It was amazing, I teared up and I had a flash of what this team would be like in particularly in the 2016 season, Go Chud!. I believe this draft should strictly focus on defense in the early rounds. I love what I'm seeing from the younger players; Henry Anderson (was on fire), David Parry (great in the run stuff and pass rush) can be like a Aaron Donald if coached correctly, Jonathon Newsome is coming into fruition and will be a beast.. D'joun Smith can be a solid younger version of Darius Butler.. Also, Clayton Geathers is another one that caught my eye, he can definitely be a starting SS in the league, reminds me of "the Eraser" Bob Sanders. In order for us to be a dominant defense I think we need to get young fast in the LB and Safety position. Get rid of Adams and Lowery, sign Tashaun Gipson and plug in Geathers. And in the ILB position we should NOT resign D'qwell. I don't understand why we would because we actually do have depth at that position with Nate Irving and Sio Moore. Jerrell Freeman is a pure beast, he deserves to be resigned. Draft either Reggie Ragland or Jaylon Smith, both WILL be impact players, heck maybe even Scooby Wright.. And with the cornerback position. I love what I was seeing from everyone but Greg Toler, man he was just getting tore up in every game! He should definitely be dismissed. We should either sign Janoris Jenkins in FA (that duo Jenkins x Davis would be AMAZING) or Draft a CB in the 2nd or 3rd: William Jackson III my favorite you should check him out! .. I'm going crazy just thinking about the possibilities, imagine how hard it is for the people actually making the decisions.. What do you think are the main position needs for us to headline at Super Bowl 51?
-sidenote: I really believe this past year was an eye opener for the fans, players and coaches. Every team goes through it. And we will only get better from the experience
Bowen: Well Izzy, you sure covered a lot with your question this week. I'm not sure if you've been reading past mailbags, but my positions of need are as followed: linebacker (depending on Jerrell Freeman's status), cornerback, offensive line and running back. The Colts have to start bolstering their defense through young, impact guys. Offensive has been talked about plenty so the interior is the spot to address there. Finding a young running back to backup Frank Gore is also a key of mine this offseason.
Kareem W. (North Dakota)
Are the Colts going to release Greg Toler????????
Bowen: Greg Toler is an unrestricted free agent, one of 12 the Colts have in 2016. So the Colts do not have to "release" Toler, if they choose not to re-sign him. The Colts hardly ever give any indication of their plans for unrestricted free agents, so we will have to wait until March 9th to see what happens with Toler.
John C. (St. Louis)
After seeing Mel Kiper's prediction that the Colts would take Ryan Kelly at no. 18, I was a bit surprised and read Kelly's profile on NFL.com. The profile says he's undersized, but his skill set immediately reminded me of Jeff Saturday. True leadership, gritty, determined blocking, you name it. What's the chance you think Colts will take Kelly at no. 18 overall?
Bowen: I think John and I had similar thoughts when we saw Kiper have Ryan Kelly at slot No. 18 in his latest Mock Draft. Ryan Kelly is a true center. Those types of prospects just don't go that high in drafts. A few years back we saw Dallas take center Travis Frederick with pick No. 31. People were very surprised Frederick went that high. Frederick has gone on to make two Pro Bowls in three NFL seasons. Many NFL people feel that you can find starting caliber interior linemen much, much later in drafts. I'm of that belief and why I feel the Colts wouldn't take Kelly at No. 18. If the Colts are sold on Kelly, I could see them trading back to try and acquire a few more picks. Yet recent history shows that centers taken early, do pan out.
David D. (Indianapolis)
The draft is great way to find a impact player in maybe top ten picks but after that it seems like pot luck. Of the top picks it seems like QB's & RB's are usually top picks at other positions filling the rest of the top ten. Is there a break down of this that might show a first round picks that are true impact players.
Bowen: David, I don't have any specific numbers on positions that usually lead to Pro Bowlers. The draft can be such a crapshoot and that's what makes it so entertaining. I would say one definite trend of late has been fewer and fewer running backs going in the first round. In listening to draft pundits talk about the 2016 class, they have stressed the defensive depth this year. It seems like there's more "blue chip" type prospects on that side of the ball, with the offense not having as much depth in 2016.
Robert R. (Indiana)
What are you going to focus on in free agency ? I think you should get stable secondary .
Bowen: Like I've mentioned in the past few mailbags, interior offensive line and finding a starting cornerback opposite Vontae Davis remain my biggest offseason needs. Depending on what happens with linebacker Jerrell Freeman and safety Dwight Lowery (both unrestricted free agents), those positions could rise on the priority list.
Zachary S. (Indiana)
Hello I think our biggest needs are OL and DL I really like Harrison from.the jets he had tremendous size and is a mean gritty player.I know the colts has never really had a team of big nasties like some of the great defense. What's your thought
Bowen: This week, we had a couple of questions on Jets' defensive lineman Damon "Snacks" Harrison. At 6-4 and 350 pounds, Harrison would certainly provide a wide, wide body the Colts currently don't have up front. I don't view defensive line as a major offseason need for the Colts but, for the right price, Harrison would certainly come in and be a boost. I see him having a pretty high market value though.
Carol F. (Terre Haute, IN)
Will Peyton be signed for 1 game so he can retire a Colt?
Bowen: If Peyton Manning does retire as a Colt, there's little chance it would be for a 'game.' It's likely to be for one day (probably in the spring, like Dallas Clark/Jeff Saturday).
Ryan S. (North Dakota)
I totally understand the OL need, you could see it with Luck and in the frustration in Gore. I understand the need for a CB too, but what are the chances Indy would take Elliott, RB (Ohio St) if he's still there with the first round pick, I love Gore, but looking to the future. One last thing, what's the chances they take a look at Eric Weddle or Ngata if he's available. Thanks for the mailbag.
Bowen: If I had to pick between Eric Weddle and Haloti Ngata, I'd lean towards the latter. With Ted Monachino now the team's defensive coordinator, does he want a true 3-4 nose? Someone with the body type of a Ngata, who has (at least) 20-30 pounds on current nose tackle David Parry. With free agent Dwight Lowery, Mike Adams and Clayton Geathers all safety options, I don't see the need to get older at that position. The same could be said for Ngata, but at least hi addition would truly give the Colts something different from what they currently have.
Tim J. (Texas)
Kevin, hey I enjoy you taking the time to answer my question. I've been colts fan since I knew what football was.After seeing the Superbowl everyone is defense minded but as I see it our offense is already established itself as what carries us. (Ex. Denver game last quarter of Carolina game we scored 20 points I believe, 2 yrs ago we beat Seattle,Denver and Kansas city when they were having great streaks.) My question is this: Do you truly believe we can become this great defensive team in one draft? We have a new defensive co. And yes I realize Anderson comes back after he was having awesome start we got Davis, Mathis still proves to be essential at crunch time freeman was decent but maybe facing susp. I'd love for us to get fuller from vtech but couldn't we get Prince or Janoris in fa and concentrate on our offensive line? Establishing the run and giving our qb and wr's time to get open is needed. We've seen what Luck can do 2014 season and that was basically without a run game!! I love a smash mouth game but I feel if we could fix our o-line first and get a de or db in the later rounds would be smarter. Take the top talent for o-line first. Luck deserves it. Thanks
Bowen: Tim, I don't think a team becomes a great defense in one draft. But I do think the Colts got a start on it with last year's group. The Colts now need to go above and beyond that in 2015. The Colts have potentially three starters in last year's group (Henry Anderson, David Parry and Clayton Geathers). D'Joun Smith is still an unknown. Can the Colts find another three-to-four defensive starters in 2016? You toss those guys into Vontae Davis, Kendall Langford, Robert Mathis etc. and now you have a group with some serious potential.
Laurence F. (Bedford, TX)
Why isn't Thornton considered a starting RG?
Also what is the status of Griff? Do you think the Colts will bring him back?
Bowen: Hugh Thornton is the Colts returning starter at right guard. The Colts have longed for Thornton to reach the potential the teams has envisioned when taking him in the third-round of the 2013 draft. Getting a more consistent Thornton has been something the Colts have hoped for in his three seasons as a starter. Is finding a free agent guard/draft pick going to light a fire under Thornton? As far as Griff Whalen, the Colts waived him in December. As of right now, I don't see Whalen coming back, but that could change as the offseason moves along. So far, Whalen remains a free agent with rosters growing to 90 players around the NFL.
Thomas M. (Brownsburg, IN)
I have been thinking of what the Colt's should do for some time know and had been not saying anything waiting to see what Chuck P and Ryan G does. But, it is time for me to speech so please listen... We can do this many different ways, we can go offensive line in the first two round with a stud free agent linemen and Alfred Morris at RB or go two stud linemen and a second round linemen while getting Elliot (RB) in the first round. Either way would work, my point is that we will never beat New England of Pittsburg if we get linemen in the draft, it would take too long to work out. We have at least five teams with great defense's and decent offense's in the AFC. And if we are going to do any damage we need actual studs on the offensive line and a RB not named Frank Gore, no I do not mean let him go unless you plan on getting either Doug Martin or Lamar Miller. Actually, and I mean ACTUALLY protecting Andrew Luck while letting him run a lot more, just do it wisely and actually get a true ground game going that we hardly ever abandon, we can take full control of the AFC. My question is simply this. Why are we fighting the great teams in the AFC with a sub-par approach, we will never get back to that mountain if we don't bring in the players with the pedigree of getting the job done at an extremely high level, instead of players have yet to preform with the "possibility" of being that guy, like we have been doing. Please, answer this question, I will talk defense on Monday.
Bowen: The Colts "sub-par" approach has seen them earn 14 playoff appearances in the past 17 years, the most in the NFL. So something is working. I can assure you management sees the areas that need improvement heading into the offseason and you mentioned the big one---the offensive line. Drafting quality defenders and solidifying the interior of the offensive line has to be the main focus for this team in 2016.
Nic Robbins (Venice Beach, CA)
Can the colts pick up two Alabama players in the draft a'shown robinson and Kelly
Bowen: In various Mock Drafts, I've seen both of these players right around where the Colts are picking in Round One. Robinson, a defensive lineman, seems to be more of the first round lock. Where as Kelly, a center, has been primarily a second round guy. ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr. has Kelly actually going to the Colts in his latest Mock Draft, despite how little we see true centers go in the first round.
Patrick T. (Germany)
- What do you think, how conservative are Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano when it comes to character concerns. Are they willing to take a risk with a player (FA or draft). Rex Ryan for example doesn't seem to care if a player has off field issues. How about our Colts staff? Are they willing to take a risk?
For example in this years draft. Assumed Noah Spence is still available. Do you think they'd draft him or rather pass because of the potential downside? Same with injury, if Jaylon Smith should be available, do you think they'd consider an injured player, who might not be able to help us in '16, but with tremendous upside?
Thanks for your work, really looking forward to the Mailbag every week.
Bowen: When it comes to the character/medical variable of the draft, the Colts are going to exhaust their resources in completely evaluating a prospect. If the red flags in either situation are glaring, the Colts aren't going to draft that player. With Spence (off the field problems) and Smith (medical concerns), neither appear to be too damming to either's prospects draft projection. I'd expect both to be top 15-20 picks. Of course, that could change this week with interviews and testing dominating the week.
Andrew E. (Lafayette, IN)
This is sort of a question and sort of a plea that I hope grigson amd Pagano hear. I've heard rumors that Dwayne Allen doesn't want to come back. I saw a clip where he said he loved Indy amd wants to play here for the rest of his career. Which is it? Either way I'm begging the guys up top to keep him. I'd love to see both tight ends staying purely because they are both to dang good. If push comes to shove tho we should keep Allen over fleener. Simply because Allen can do it all and he's paid his dues in the trenches. I loved the addition of Andre Johnson but we don't need him and he didn't do what we thought he would I think with both tight ends, TY, moncrief, and Dorsett we have plenty of pass catching talent. Thanks for the time,
Bowen: Come free agency every year, it's rarity to find a guy who comes out on the record and says he doesn't want to come back to the team he plays for. Dwayne Allen has already developed a pretty rich community involvement in Indianapolis. I think he genuinely wants to return to play here with a bigger role within the offense. The frustrations you have heard from Allen about last season (16 catches in 29 targets) would likely not come up again if he re-signed. That's because he would be the Colts' top tight end (I see the Colts being able to keep either Allen or Coby Fleener, not both) and see his snap count jump.
James W. (Alberta, Canada)
Can you see the Colts moving up in the draft to get someone they really want? If Myles Jack happens to slip down the draft board, because of issues with the knee. Maybe outside of the top 10? Don't think he does, but if? Think the colts would move up to get him? I really think jack is going to be a special player, and would consider it a steal if he drops outside of the top 10. Thoughts?
Bowen: If the right guy falls, the Colts haven't shown reluctance in past years to just hold their ground and not move up. Come April, if a guy starts to slip in Round One, I think the Colts would jump at the chance to dial up other teams. It would come with a steep price though. I think this team would be better served to hold its ground, addressing several needs, instead of breaking the bank in moving up and therefore having to give up a pick or more. It's just impossible to predict whether or trade is worth it or not, until the board starts falling in Round One.
Chris Y. (Indianapolis)
I believe that Andrew Luck is a great quarterback and that we have a good wide receiving core at this time as well. I know that the popular opinion is that we need to get new/good players on the OL, but don't you think we also need to look at the CB position as well or even more importantly?
It is said that the best offense is a good defense and we saw that in Super Bowl 50 so maybe CB should be first priority while OL falls to second? Thanks for our time.
Bowen: Chris, I'm not sure if you've read past mailbags but fans know where I stand on the cornerback position. I'm a fan of taking a cornerback early in April and/or addressing that position with a starting caliber player in free agency. If the Colts can find a consistent cornerback opposite Vontae Davis, that would really solidify the islands of the Indy defense. The trickle down effect would allow for more and more resources used towards the pass rush. Greg Toler is a free agent. Darius Butler turns 30 years old in March and is more of a nickel guy. Second-year guys D'Joun Smith and Tevin Mitchel are still unknowns (due to injuries). Those are my reasons for cornerback being a large priority this offseason.
Zac F. (Ontario, Windsor)
Hey Kevin, what's the chances that the team will resign D Lowery to a reasonable contract? Let him and C Geathers compete for the starting job. This way at least you know you have a capable back up
Bowen: Zac, I completely understand your thought process in this. However, I just don't see a re-signing of Lowery without him being a starter. He's showed the last two seasons (with Atlanta in 2014 and Indianapolis in 2015) that he is still a starter in this league. The question for me is do the Colts want to invest in Lowery for another season, therefore losing out on the chance to use that money in another area of need. If this was done, that would obviously push Clayton Geathers into the starting lineup. With a more limited amount of cap space this year, that could impact whether or not the Colts bring Lowery back.
Dave H. (Sebring, FL)
THEY SAY MANY ATHLETES, IN BOXING,BASKETBALL,LIFTING, ARE USING HYPNOSIS,TO STAY HEALTHY,PLAY STRONGER,ETC. HAS THE COLTS CONSIDER DOING THIS TO HELP PLAYERS,CUT DOWN ON INJURIES KNOW PLAYBOOK,PLAY STRONGER,HELP THEM SEE AND KNOW WHAT GOING ON THE FIELD,AND TO REACT????
Bowen: I don't believe the Colts have used any "hypnosis" but then again, I can't say that topic has ever really come up in discussion with a coach or player.
Jacen S. (Denver, CO)
With so many mock drafts going on, the players I see that fit the Colts really well seem to be C Ryan Kelly and RB Devontae Booker. Kelly is reminiscent of Jeff Saturday and Booker reminds me of Frank Gore. What's the chance the Colts will take them in the first and second rounds respectively?
Bowen: Some momentum is starting to build for Ryan Kelly as not only a first-round pick, but one that could even go to the Colts at No. 18. A running back in the second round though might be a little too early for me. I'm of the belief that the Colts have to start getting younger on the defensive side of the ball. Waiting until the third round to address that unit come draft time wouldn't really accomplish that.
Matt H. (Lucerne, IN)
Huge Colts fan since 1987! What ever happened to one of my favorite colts Domonic Rhodes? He was a great fan favorite when he played for the boys in blue and white!
Bowen: I know Dominic was at a Colts/Texans game down in Houston a few years back with fellow running mate Joseph Addai. The last of Rhodes on the football field came in 2013 with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. I still think about his Super Bowl performance from time to time (21 carries for 113 yards and probably should have been the MVP).
Isak H. (Mexico City)
Hi, so I got two questions. First, it's almost obvious that the team will draft a center. I've seen Ryan Kelly (awesome fit) and Nick Martin being in the discussion, but according to you, who would be the best fit among all centers? Second, any chance Coby Fleener is renewed before FA? Thanks.
Bowen: Pretty much everything I've read has Kelly, the Rimington Award winner last year to the nation's top center, as the No. 1 center in the draft. It seems like Nick Martin from Notre Dame is more of a Day Two (second and third round) guy. Of course, the Martin pedigree (his brother Zack is a two-time Pro Bowler in two NFL seasons) might have him rise a bit in the next couple of months.
Josh K. (Nova Scotia, Canada)
If Jaylon Smith is still available at 18, I think we would be crazy not to take him. However, with the number of areas we need to address this offseason, I think we need guys that can step in and play day 1. With Smith recovering from injury, there is a chance he won't be ready to start the season. Do you think this will impact the Colts decision to draft him or not?
Also, just wanted to say, I agree 100% with your mindset that the defense should be the #1 issue addressed this offseason. In my opinion, Toler and the #2 corner position was our most glaring issue last year but I don't think adding a corner via the draft will solve the issue for the upcoming season. Rarely do rookie corners step in and become impact players from day 1. I know the reigning rookie of the year is a corner but it's the first time in almost 20 years a corner has won DROY.
My game plan, draft an athletic hybrid linebacker in round 1 if a high end LB is left, add a #2 corner via free agency, take some low cost fliers in free agency on pass rushers and use picks in rounds 2 and beyond to look for some o-line depth, pass rushers, and maybe a RB if a guy with high upside is still around later in the draft. I'm fine with Gore for another season though. I don't not like E. Elliot, but I will be outraged of we select him at 18!
Anyway, love the article and GO COLTS!
Bowen: Josh, I appreciate your readership. We agree on the linebacker approach at No. 18, one that I even see strengthening if Jerrell Freeman does indeed take an offer on the free agent market. The Jaylon Smith debate is going to be widely discussed in the coming weeks. I have a feeling Smith will have to return to Indianapolis for the Combine medical re-check that some prospects have to go through after this week's evaluations. Some reports have Smith being ready for Week One. Others are speculating that Year One is more of a "redshirt" season. If the latter is the case, teams will have to weigh how patient they can be in waiting for Smith to return to action. I love Smith's upside at the professional level, but the medicals are going to tell the story on him.
Curley C. (Ohio)
Will the colts use Josh Robinson more this year? I was excited to see him play because he was a good back in college but he barely played this year.
Bowen: Curley, Josh Robinson is no longer on the Colts roster. He was placed on practice squad injured reserve late in the season. Robinson is not on any team's roster right now. I do think he could be a productive back in this league so who knows where he might end up.
Chazz A. (Philadelphia)
Hey kevin big Colts fan, my question for today is, how far do you think Pat could kick a real soccer ball ?
Bowen: Well, I wasn't expecting this sort of question this week. I would guess Pat McAfee could kick a soccer ball 65-75 yards. I feel like the elite world-class goalkeepers can often kick it this far in game settings. I see no reason why McAfee wouldn't be able to achieve that same distance before some added roll.
Al O. (Ocala, FL)
I've noticed a great deal of questions dealing with the draft and FA's. Both are rather speculative as far as what may happen. Not that I'm not concerned with these issues, but I guess I'm more concerned with items regarding those who are currently part of the team or up for free agency.
I was wondering how you choose which questions you will answer and post in the Mailbag?
Are the based on fan interest, the qty received from the same fans, or something else?
Bowen: There's really no rhyme or reason to the questions that make it through. We get a bunch of questions each week, so I try not and repeat any questions on the same topic. That's really my main concern. Besides that, I try to answer them all. This week was by far the most we have ever received.