Three Imant Moves Likely End of High-Profile Free Agency for Colts, Polian Says
INDIANAPOLIS - As far as free agency, Bill Polian said the Colts may be pretty much done.
Safety Bob Sanders.
Tight end Dallas Clark.
Guard Ryan Lilja.
All were scheduled to become unrestricted free agents at the end of this month, and the Colts have made moves to assure all three will remain with the franchise – Sanders re-signing late in the season; Clark and Lilja agreeing to new contracts in the last few days.
Those were three important moves, Polian said Thursday.
And he said they likely will mark the end of the Colts' high-profile activity in free agency this off-season.
"I don't think there's a whole lot of stuff for us to do at this point in time," Polian said Thursday during the NFL Scouting Combine, which is ongoing this week and weekend at the RCA Dome in downtown Indianapolis.
"We've re-signed Bob. We've re-signed Dallas. We've re-signed Ryan. So, I think now we'll step back, take a deep breath and see how things go going forward, but I don't think we'll be very active in the free agent market."
Of retaining the three players, Polian said, "Those were three difficult negotiations, which fortunately worked out for us."
He also added, "We had a pretty good free-agent haul."
Jake Scott, a starting guard the last three and a half seasons, likely will not be re-signed before free agency begins next month, Polian said.
Polian said it was clear at the beginning of the off-season that it was unlikely the Colts would be able to re-sign Scott and Lilja.
"Ryan, we felt, was an important objective," Polian said. "We didn't feel we could sign both guards. It was a question of which one we could sign, if at all. We're very grateful we got him signed."
Polian said the Colts would like to have Scott return.
"Let's see," Polian said. "We've always taken a position with free agents that are out there that we understand that they need to seek their fortune. They need to find out what the market is. Sometimes, the market isn't what the agent or the player may expect it will be. Sometimes it is. I understand both cases.
"We certainly would welcome Jake back with open arms. The question is, what's good for him and his family. He has to make that decision going forward. We never want to lose a player to free agency. Sometimes, you do. It's a reality. But we'd certainly welcome him back with open arms."
Asked if the Colts would be proactive regarding Scott, Polian said, "No. I wouldn't think so."
The Colts earlier this week announced they had used the franchise tag on Clark, a 2003 first-round draft selection who this past season set career-highs and franchise-records for single-season receptions and touchdowns for a tight end.
By agreeing to the long-term contract, the Colts essentially removed the tag from Clark, and also retained the tag for future use, Polian said.
"We get the tag back,' Polian said. "That's also a plus."
Mostly, Polian said, retaining Clark was importance because of his versatility in the offense and his production.
Clark caught a career-high 58 passes for 618 yards and 11 touchdowns this past season. In five NFL seasons, he has caught 179 passes for 2,234 yards and 25 touchdowns.
"He's a big factor in the offense," Polian said. "He does play the slot. He plays tight end. He plays fullback on occasions. He plays wide out. He's a very versatile player and in many ways, a key cog in the offense.
"We felt it was a priority to get him signed. Everything's relative. The contract is a very rich contract for a player who's not been to a Pro Bowl, but we recognize his value. He's very important to us."