INDIANAPOLIS –Free agency is fraught with peril and opportunity.
Ryan Grigson, in his 15th year of personnel evaluation, knew that. When he said at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday that his team was better than when the day started, he meant it.
"I feel like anybody I go after and sign in free agency or take in the draft has expectations of coming in a being a starter," said Grigson. "We don't draft backups and we don't go after guys in free agency who we don't think aren't starting material. We see them making a difference for us.
"(We're better), without a doubt, definitely."
The Colts reached contract agreements with five players – offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus, defensive end Lawrence Sidbury, linebacker Erik Walden, offensive guard Donald Thomas and linebacker Greg Toler.
Cherilus has been a mainstay at right tackle for Detroit and could bookend Anthony Castonzo in Indianapolis. If so, it will match Boston College tackles for the Colts.
Walden has started the last two seasons in Green Bay. The Colts are looking for players to help compensate for the loss of Dwight Freeney, the club's all-time sack leader who departed on Tuesday.
Freeney was a special talent, and Grigson sees competition forming to address the matter of who will play in his place.
"At some point, that's what the OTAs are for. That's what training camp is for," said Grigson. "We're creating an atmosphere of competitiveness. That's Chuck's M.O. The true football players, the true champions and winners, they crave that, they want that. They're going to compete."
Thomas is a versatile performer who can snap and play both guard positions. Toler is an athletic presence who will lend cover ability. A cornerback tandem of Toler and Vontae Davis is a possibility. Sidbury will work in a 3-4 scheme for the first time in his career, and Grigson sees the fifth-year pro as a good fit that can make the transition.
The purpose of free agency is to build a team. Observers sometimes can get caught up in the sizzle of big names rather than focusing on substance that can bolster a franchise.
Grigson is not allergic to sizzle, but he is a master at applying elbow grease when it comes to unearthing talent. He will use all means at his disposal.
"We're going to grind the tape, and we have the draft as well. We have two avenues to acquire talent," said Grigson. "I'm not a person who likes to put all my eggs in one basket. I feel like if I can get good players instead of putting all my eggs in one basket, it makes good common sense to try to help the team in a balanced sort of way, not just going for broke with one guy.
"We really want good fits. There's a reason for these guys because they fit in so many ways. I wanted to spend (Jim Irsay's) money…wisely."
Grigson covered a lot of ground to get the five players within 90 minutes of the start of free agency. It is a passion, not just a profession.
"It's hectic, but exciting and filled with adrenaline," said Grigson. "I'm still having fun. In the midst of this whole thing if you're not having fun and you're ready to jump off a cliff, then you probably shouldn't be doing this job.
"I feel like I was ready, and Chuck (Pagano) was ready. (Our guys) did an exceptional job. I feel absolutely fantastic. I feel great about today. I feel we got better."