Colts Rumors: Fact or Fiction with the Latest News Before Free Agency
While we've been focusing heavily on the draft for the last month here on Bleacher Report, the free-agency period comes first in the offseason, and is quickly approaching. For the Indianapolis Colts, free agency may be the most important part of the offseason, as the team has about $41 million in cap space, according to Mike Wells of ESPN.com, and just five draft picks.
There are weaknesses across the board on the Colts roster, and there are a litany of free agents that will be attractive to fans and analysts alike.
But who will actually be available for the Colts, and who actually makes sense? Read on to catch up on some of the latest news and rumors regarding pending free agents who could be big contributors in Indianapolis next season.
Colts Are Interested in Eric Decker
Wide receiver is a position that the Colts certainly are looking to improve this offseason, with Reggie Wayne's injury last season exposing an astounding lack of depth. With that being said, Eric Decker is on the short list of top wide receiver free agents this offseason.
Decker seems like he could be one of the most overpaid receivers to come out of this year's free-agency period. Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke anticipates Decker getting paid like a No. 1 receiver this year after catching 87 passes for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdown passes last season.
Regardless, it seems as if Indianapolis' interest is very real, although that certainly doesn't mean an agreement between the two parties is guaranteed.
Jairus Byrd Is Hitting the Open Market
For a while there it seemed as if the Buffalo Bills were going to be able to hang on to safety Jairus Byrd. But the safety turned down Buffalo's "lucrative" contract offer, according to the Associated Press, on Sunday, and CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported that the Bills do not have plans to franchise Byrd.
Byrd is the best free-agent safety in this offseason, a position that the Colts desperately need to upgrade. Will the Colts look at Byrd? Possibly, as Rotoworld's Evan Silva mentioned, Byrd likely will have a similar contract to Eric Decker and would make a much bigger difference.
It certainly seems like Byrd is going to be available, the only question is where his final destination will be.
Alex Mack and T.J. Ward Are Hitting the Open Market
Speaking of Cleveland, it is the home of two of the most coveted free agents this offseason: C Alex Mack and S T.J. Ward.
For Indianapolis, both Mack and Ward would fill big holes. Mack would allow the Colts to move on from Samson Satele, while Ward would be able to fill Antoine Bethea's role. While a ball-hawking safety like Byrd may be a better fit next to LaRon Landry in Indianapolis, Ward would give the Colts a bit more flexibility, allowing them to use the safeties interchangeably, as they did in 2013.
According to Fox Sports' Ross Jones, Ward likes Cleveland and wishes to stay, but is willing to move on if he doesn't get the contract he wants. As for Mack, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that he is Cleveland's No. 1 priority to re-sign.
I'd be surprised if either left, with Cleveland having nearly $57 million in cap room, according to Daryl Ruiter of Cleveland's 92.3 The Fan. With that much space and the franchise tag at their disposal, it seems unlikely that either will leave Cleveland.
Ahmad Bradshaw Won't Return to Indianapolis
Bradshaw was very effective prior to injury last season, carrying the ball 41 times for 186 yards and two touchdowns, a healthy 4.5 yards-per-carry average. Bradshaw was especially effective in the Colts' upset win over San Francisco.
Unfortunately, a neck injury cut Bradshaw's season short. The con for Bradshaw has always been his inability to stay healthy, and the Colts likely won't want to put up with that uncertainty again. With him gone and Donald Brown unlikely to return, the Colts will need to find a third member for their running-back-by-committee deal.
No other news from the Colts' facility has surfaced since the team began negotiations with CB Vontae Davis a few weeks ago.
Eric Decker Is the Best WR Option for Indianapolis
There's a common perception that Eric Decker would be a great fit and fantastic pickup for Ryan Grigson and the Indianapolis Colts, as purported by Chris Simms in the video above.
While Decker would be a good scheme fit, it isn't going to be worth the cost for Indianapolis.
Decker isn't going to be cheap, as we discussed before. Decker wants to be paid like a No. 1 receiver, but he really isn't that kind of receiver. He had those kinds of numbers with Peyton Manning this year, but that was due to Manning and volume more than Decker. Teams worried about Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and even Julius Thomas as problems before they did Decker. Decker benefited from the attention that had to be warranted elsewhere.
While Decker fits the kind of versatility and size prototype (6'3", 215 pounds) the Colts would want, his price is simply going to be too much. I'd rather sign a guy like Golden Tate, for example, for $1-2 million less per year. Tate is better after the catch and more reliable hands than Decker, a huge factor considering the Colts' lack of consistency in the hands department.