Getting better on defense appears to be the primary goal of Indianapolis Colts general manager Chuck Pagano and head coach Chuck Pagano this offseason.
Indianapolis went into the free agency period with nearly $43 million of salary cap space available.
But Grigson made it clear in the days prior to the start of free agency that the Colts were going to try and be selective in who they brought in from the outside and who was kept from last year's roster.
While Grigson and Pagano weren't looking to completely re-tool the defense, there were certainly areas where they wanted to improve.
Getting more athletic at inside linebacker and safety were two areas of concern. The Colts were also looking to possibly add a few complementary pieces to the offense as well.
They moved quickly in free agency to sign Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones after they had added linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who had been released by the Browns.
Grigson admitted that his job during this offseason, when it came to the salary cap, was to keep a keen eye out for what's coming up down the road with several of the team's talented younger players.
Quarterback Andrew Luck, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, and running back Vick Ballard will all have expiring contracts coming up.
He wants to hang on to as many of those players as he can. Luck will get his payday when the time comes, but Grigson also wants to keep Hilton, Fleener, Allen and Ballard around for as long as possible too.
And then there's offensive left tackle Anthony Castanzo, who's contract expires after the 2014 season.
Yes, Indianapolis has some salary cap money to spend. But Grigson wants to be a bit more judicious in how he spreads the wealth this offseason.
--General manager Grigson, looking at free agency, says that trying to keep everybody from the previous season's roster isn't easy.
"While you want to lock everybody up and have everybody here, it's still the NFL and you can't have everything," he said. "We're going to try like heck to get that process worked through and see it through how we like."
--The Colts general manager believes that he has a plan in place that will take care of the Colts' needs heading into the 2014 season but further down the road as well.
"It's not hard to tighten your belt when you're looking at what we're looking at in '15 and '16. In future years, we have some key, key young talent that we're going to have to re-sign," Grigson explained.
"So we have to be very prudent and fiscally sound in how we move forward. We still have a plan in place and if there's a chance for us to get better at any position group, we're going to try to get better, if it makes sense from a fiscal standpoint for the club."
--Colts head coach Chuck Pagano saw what Seattle did defensively during its Super Bowl run. He would like to get to that point with the Indianapolis defense if at all possible.
"We certainly had times during the season where we played very, very good defense. Played smothering defense, much like Seattle played. Especially down the stretch. I know the playoffs didn't turn out, obviously we didn't play like we are capable of," Pagano said.
"We've just got to be more consistent. As we add pieces to the puzzle and guys get better at their craft, I think we'll certainly one day say we play defense like that on a consistent basis."
--Both Grigson and Pagano continue to have faith in RB Trent Richardson despite the lack of production after joining the Colts last September. Richardson underwent shoulder surgery to clear up some scar tissue last month.
"The sky's the limit for Trent, having a full offseason with us. This will be a very important offseason for him and for everybody on our roster and every facet of our football program," the Indianapolis coach said.
"I look for great things from Trent. Trent looks for great things from himself. Moving forward, there's high expectations there, not only from us but that he has for himself."
--After season ticket sales were sluggish prior to the start of the 2013 season, that's certainly not the case as the Colts prepare for next fall.
Indianapolis officials acknowledge that the team is back to being nearly sold-out for every game in 2014.
--Indianapolis named Brad White assistant linebackers coach. White had been a defensive quality control coach with the Colts for the past two seasons.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Colts added two veteran free agents from other teams in an attempt to bolster the defense.
Former Cleveland inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was signed last week. Jackson had been released on Feb. 26. He signed a four-year, $22 million deal with Indianapolis. Only the first two years of the contract are guaranteed.
Ex-Baltimore Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones, meanwhile, made the move to pair up with former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano on March 11.
Jones is a former teammate of Colts defensive end Corey Redding in Baltimore. He inked a reported five-year, $30 million deal with a $5.5 million signing bonus.
--SAFETY: With the loss of unrestricted free agent S Antoine Bethea to San Francisco, the Colts are in dire need of a starting safety to team with returning veteran LaRon Landry. Indianapolis needs a young, athletic playmaker who has good range in pass coverage.
--CENTER: After the release of two-year starter Samson Satele, the Colts are now looking for his replacement. Satele proved to be inconsistent as a run blocker, which is an area that Indianapolis desperately needs to improve.
--WIDE RECEIVER: While Indianapolis is expected to have veteran Reggie Wayne back from season-ending knee surgery, the team could use some additional veteran depth at the position. Outside of Wayne, it's a young group of receivers so the possibility of adding more experience is an attractive option.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--ILB Scott Lutrus has battled injuries over the last two seasons. Lutrus has impressed the coaching staff in practice situations but hasn't been able to stay healthy enough to show what he can do in games. May not return in 2014.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--ILB Pat Angerer has battled injuries throughout most of his Indianapolis career. A second-round pick in 2010, Angerer missed the early portion of the 2012 season after suffering a foot injury. He had several surgical procedures on the foot last offseason. Angerer ended up missing the last half of the 2013 season after knee issues continued to crop up. He is not expected back.
--WR Deion Branch.
--ILB Kavell Conner was in and out of the Colts defensive lineup last season. He started six of the 10 games in which he participated. Conner can play both inside linebacking positions. Has also been used as an outside pass rusher on occasion. May not return next season.
--NT Aubrayo Franklin split time with second-year NT Josh Chapman last season. He started 15 of the Colts' 16 games in 2013. A veteran performer, Franklin has experience playing in the Indianapolis defensive system. May not return next season.
--WR Darrius Heyward-Bey has proven to be an enigma of sorts for the Colts. Outstanding speed and a great team player, Heyward-Bey brought his issues as a dependable pass receiver with him from Oakland. Was eased out of the starting lineup but didn't complain. Was used on special teams and was the team's best blocking receiver. May not return in 2014.
--G/T Jeff Linkenbach has proven to be a valuable offensive lineman who fill in at a variety of positions. Linkenbach can play both tackle and both guard roles. He has seen most of his work at tackle, however, over the last two seasons. He is expected to return.
--DL Ricardo Mathews can play both defensive end and defensive tackle. An undersized lineman, Mathews has a high motor and has played well when called upon. Most of his work has been as a backup. Mathews may not return for the 2014 season.
--G Mike McGlynn has started both at guard and center. Guard is McGlynn's more natural position. But injuries to Samson Satele the last two seasons forced McGlynn to move over to the center role. He played well at center both seasons. McGlynn is not expected to return in 2014.
--LB Lawrence Sidbury missed all of the 2013 season with a knee injury. Sidbury was added to the Colts roster as a free agent two years ago. He can play both defensive end and outside linebacker. Sidbury spent last year on injured reserve. He might return for 2014.
--CB Cassius Vaughn has been a good backup and part-time starter for the Colts. Vaughn can play outside or in the team's nickel and dime packages. He was second on the team with three interceptions in 2013. Vaughn might return for 2014.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--CB Josh Gordy (tendered at $1.431M with no compensation) appeared in 12 games in 2013 and registered nine tackles (eight solo), three passes broken up, one interception and four special teams stops. He has played well as a backup cornerback and on special teams. Could return in 2014.
--G/T Joe Reitz (tendered at $1.431M with no compensation) can play both guard spots and has also started at offensive tackle. A former tight end, Reitz has proven to be a versatile player for the Colts. Could return in 2014.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--DT Jeris Pendleton (tendered at $495,000) did a nice job in a backup role last season. He played in the final regular-season game and then in both playoff contests. Pendleton showed good quickness for a big man. Might return in 2014.
--RB Ahmad Bradshaw: UFA; terms unknown.
--S Sergio Brown: UFA; terms unknown.
--CB Vontae Davis: UFA; $39M/4 yrs, $20M guaranteed.
--P Pat McAfee: Potential UFA; $14.5M/5 yrs, $1M SB.
--LB Cam Johnson: Potential ERFA; $495,000/1 yr.
--K Adam Vinatieri: Potential UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB D'Qwell Jackson: FA Browns; $22/4 yrs, $11M guaranteed.
--DE Arthur Jones: UFA Ravens; $33M/5 yrs, $5.5M SB/$16M guaranteed.
--G Lance Louis: FA; $1.475M/2 yrs, $25,000 SB.
--LB Aaron Morgan: FA; $1.23M/2 yrs.
--G Justin Anderson (released).
--S Antoine Bethea: UFA 49ers; $26M/4 yrs.
--RB Tashard Choice (released).
--C Samson Satele (released).
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