Colts 2013 Free Agent Class Was a Bust


Free agency in the NFL is rarely a sure thing. The most talented players are often retained by the team that drafted them, or signed by another for an exorbitant amount of money (and subsequently end up underperforming the contract).

Such has become the case for the Indianapolis Colts 2013 free agent class. GM Ryan Grigson, who was voted the best GM in 2012 (thanks Andrew Luck!), completely whiffed on his signings that season. If fact, all of the moves Grigson made have ultimately resulted in failure.

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Possible number of starts, including the playoffs, would be 37 since 2013. PFF grades are based on a plus/minus scale with 0.0 being average. 

Some of the highlights from this class include:

  • A four game suspension for Landry due to PED use. This might have been the most obvious PED suspension ever, the NFL really didn’t even need to take a urine sample.
  • Thomas has played in just one full game in 2013. In Week 2, he tore his quad 15 snaps into the game against the Dolphins. Thomas would re-tear that muscle in the first few days of camp in 2014.
  • Walden was suspended for a game for head-butting Delanie Walker of the Titan last season. He has also been the butt of jokes about “setting the edge” by fans, but played well in 2014.
  • Cherilus played well in 2013, but suffered through shoulder and groin injuries throughout 2014 and became a liability. He was sent to IR before the playoffs and had to have his knee scoped, adding to the litany of knee injuries Cherilus has had to endure.
  • When not injured, Toler has made a career out of under and overthrown passes over the past two seasons, leading to some assuming he is a quality cornerback.
  • Also note how every single player has received a negative grade for their time with the Colts (that number includes the playoffs).

This doesn’t even include the trade to acquire Trent Richardson. Grigson overreacted to the loss of Vick Ballard after Week 1 in 2013 and traded away the team’s 2014 first round pick for Richardson (that pick eventually turned into Johnny Manziel, which is why the Browns are the Browns). In today’s NFL, running backs are a dime-a-dozen and rarely worth one first round pick, let alone two.

Richardson was a disaster and it was made worse by the team forcing him to be the starter, which led to drives falling apart for the offense. Richardson never even sniffed 100 yards rushing in a game and left the Colts with a meager stat line of 977 yards, six touchdowns, and a paltry 3.1 yards per carry average.

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To recap, three of the Colts six free agents from 2013 have been cut (four if Richardson is included). One has been a non-factor due to injuries. And the remaining two are starters, but have had mixed results.

The simple truth is that free agency rarely works out for the teams. Players get paid and then, for some reason, tend to underperform on the contract. The Colts had a surplus of cap space in 2013 and had to sign players to not only fill out the roster but meet the minimums per the CBA. They made deals that generally allowed the Colts to get out from under the contracts with ease.

Bad deals are not as detrimental in the NFL as they are in the NBA or MLB due to the lack of fully guaranteed contracts. Sometimes, players can be cut at little to no cost to the team. Such was the case with many of the 2013 deals the Colts made.

It is still a black mark on Grigson’s resume, especially a year after he won Executive of the Year. The 2013 draft certainly doesn’t help Grigson case either. While 2014 was better, and 2015 looks promising, time will tell if these deals ultimately work out. Either way, Grigson still has a lot to prove as a GM and team builder.