A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts had the first overall pick in the 2012 National Football League draft.
It was a foregone conclusion that the Colts would select former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the selection. While Indianapolis front office and player personnel officials certainly had to do their due diligence in preparing for the draft, the Colts find themselves this year in a bit different situation.
The team will have the 24th overall pick in the first round, which is a double-edged sword. Indianapolis picks lower in the round due to a successful season. But the pool of available can’t-miss talent isn’t quite as plentiful as drafting earlier in the round.
That’s the situation second-year general manager Ryan Grigson finds himself in as the 2013 National Football Scouting Combine got underway Thursday at Lucas Oil stadium.
Instead of having the pick of the litter, Grigson now is looking for the best player available regardless of position or perceived team needs. Also, last year Indianapolis was in the middle of a massive roster shakeup. This time around, not so much.
“It’s a bit different. You could say that,” Grigson admitted during a press concerned with the league’s media. “The focus is still the same. Just improve every day. It’s still the same mindset. Just trying to get better and stay within the vision of going to the Super Bowl.”
The Colts informed outside linebacker Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Austin Collie last Friday that the team would not try to re-sign them when their contracts expire on March 12.
Potential free agents — such as punter Pat McAfee, defensive end Fili Moala and cornerback Jerraud Powers — might be back next season. That remains to be seen.
“We’ve reached out to the guys on our team that we would like to re-sign. I’ve sat down with the players and tried to explain the situations to them. I try to put as many cards on the table as I can, try to give them a glimpse of what direction we’re headed,” Grigson said.
“But we’re still going through the process. That’s why we’re here [at the combine]. There’s college and pro players that we’re delving into daily.”
The Colts were cash-strapped, salary cap wise, last year. This year, though, Indianapolis’ cap number is reportedly $43.427 million, giving the team deeper pockets to go shopping.
“The cap gives us good flexibility. It’s a good spot to be in,” Grigson explained. “It’s nice to go shopping a little bit.”
As for the decision to part ways with Freeney and Collie, the Colts GM said that the time was right to make the moves.
“Felt with our vision moving forward, [Freeney and Collie] weren’t part of it,” Grigson said.
• Arians returns to Indy — Former Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians made a triumphant return to Lucas Oil Stadium Thursday morning.
Arians, who was named as the NFL’s 2012 Coach of the Year in recognition of the job he did as Indianapolis’ interim coach last season, was hired as the new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals on Jan. 17.
“Probably every time I came [to the combine as an NFL assistant coach], I wondered what it would be like [to attend an head coach]. It’s fun to be here with your peers and to finally have that title,” he said prior to his official meeting with the media. “It’s very gratifying.”
Arians spent only one season with the Colts as offensive coordinator under head coach Chuck Pagano. But when Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia in early October, he was handed the additional duties as the team’s interim coach.
Indianapolis went 9-3 with Arians in charge and the Colts wound up with an 11-5 regular-season record, earning a wild card playoff berth in the process. The job that he did in a difficult situation attracted the interest of several NFL teams that had head coaching vacancies.
“I’ve always really enjoyed [coming to the combine]. I used to love recruiting when I was [coaching] in college. Evaluating the guys. It’s always been a big part of what I like to do as a coach,” Arians said.
He’s assembled a pretty good coaching staff, including bringing former Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore out of a brief retirement. The two previously worked together in Kansas City and Indianapolis.
“Tom Moore is one of the greatest teachers that I have ever been around. I was excited that he decided to join our coaching staff,” Arians voiced.
As for returning to Indianapolis, albeit in a new role, he said that he’s trying to get accustomed to not being with the Colts anymore.
“My head’s still spinning. Another week, another challenge. I’m living out of a suitcase right now,” Arians. “But nothing will ever change or take away the memories from last year because it was so special. Just everything that went on. The relationships. Great group of players. That rookie class was special.
“The whole thing that happened with Chuck [Pagano]. I am just grateful for the opportunity [to fill in as the interim coach]. This time last year I was retired. But it was meant to be. Everything happens for a reason. I truly believe that.”
• Telesco also back — Ex-Colts vice-president of player personnel Tom Telesco also spoke to the media Thursday. Telesco was hired as San Diego’s general manager on Jan. 9.
“I know I can refer back to watching Ryan [Grigson] as a first-time general manager work with a first-time head coach in Chuck [Pagano],” he said, referring to new Chargers head coach Mike McCoy. Pagano and McCoy were both veteran NFL assistant coaches before earning head coaching positions.
“I’ve relied on that a lot already actually. Ryan makes great football decisions. He listens to people around him. He has a great eye for talent.”
Telesco is a protege’ of former Colts vice-president Bill Polian and worked with Grigson, the reigning NFL Executive of the Year, last season.
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts had the first overall pick in the 2012 National Football League draft.
Colts sign former Giants receiver Nicks
Ryan Grigson loves to make a deal. The Indianapolis Colts third-year general manager has earned a reputation around the National Football League as a guy who will act decisively and quickly if there’s somebody that he really wants. That trait proved true again Friday as the Colts added former New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks to the team’s roster.
Colts keep Vinatieri, Davis, Bradshaw in fold
With the NFL’s free-agency signing period getting underway at 4 p.m. Tuesday, it was fairly certain that the Indianapolis Colts would be active participants.
The Colts went into free agency with around $40 million of salary cap space in their back pocket. Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson, however, had indicated at the National Football Scouting Combine that he wanted to be judicious in how the team spent its money.
Colts re-sign punter McAfee for five years
Shortly before 10 a.m. Friday, Pat McAfee — the Indianapolis Colts’ punter and kickoff specialist — tweeted that he had a special announcement to make at the top of the hour.
Colts excited to add talent, experience of D'Qwell Jackson
With the National Football League's veteran free agency period set to start on March 11, the Indianapolis Colts front office has started to make the decisions needed to retool for the 2014 season.
Former Cleveland Browns inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who had been released by Cleveland on Feb. 26, signed a reported four-year, $22 million deal with Indianapolis on Thursday. Only the first two years of the contract are guaranteed.
Jackson (6-foot, 240) started 96-of-97 games over the past eight seasons with the Browns since being selected by the team in the second round of the 2006 draft. He played collegiately at Maryland.
EIU’s Garoppolo hopes to impress scouts
Let the Eastern Illinois University quarterback tradition continue.
Mike Shanahan, Jeff Christensen, Sean Payton, Tony Romo and, now, Jimmy Garoppolo. All were record-setting quarterbacks on the Division II and FCS levels.
Grigson says Colts likely not to make big splash in free agency
Don’t expect the Indianapolis Colts to go wild in the upcoming free-agent market.
While the Colts will have anywhere from $33 to $37 million to spend this offseason, Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson says the franchise will be a bit more selective when it comes to signing any prospective veteran free agents.
SEASON IN REVIEW: Colts make progress in 2013 season
The Indianapolis Colts made plenty of progress over the course of the 2013 season.
And the Colts fought through some adversity as injuries hit the team hard at several positions, most notably at wide receiver (Reggie Wayne), tight end (Dwayne Allen), running back (Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw), offensive line (Donald Thomas) and cornerback (Greg Toler).
Moving on: Coach likes what he sees, gets ready for phase three of Colts’ development
Time to move on. In the wake of the Indianapolis Colts’ 43-22 AFC divisional playoff loss at New England last Saturday night, head coach Chuck Pagano is ready to take time off and then start getting after it again late this spring.
Blunt force trauma: Patriots running game too much for Colts
LeGarrette Blount ran the New England Patriots into their third straight AFC championship game.
The 250-pound back had four touchdown runs and New England kept Andrew Luck from a second straight comeback win to beat the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 Sunday night.
‘Still the same Tom’
How do you attempt to stop, or even slow down, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady?
Belichick impressed with Luck's skills, poise under pressure
Bill Belichick doesn’t have to be reminded about the talents of Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck.
Although Belichick’s New England Patriots handed the Colts a 59-24 loss in Foxboro last year, he came away from the game with plenty of respect for the young signal caller.
Colts, Patriots, both with many new faces, to meet in playoffs for fourth time
Here we go again. Yet another Indianapolis Colts-New England Patriots playoff game.
Up next for Colts: Brady, Patriots
Hello Tom Brady.
Thanks to the San Diego Chargers’ 27-10 AFC wild-card playoff win over Cincinnati on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, the Indianapolis Colts will be traveling to Foxboro, Massachusetts to face Brady’s New England Patriots Saturday (8:15 p.m.).
Luck leads huge rally as Colts grab first playoff win for Pagano
What a game.
Just when it looked like the Indianapolis Colts were going to be blown out at home in an AFC wild-card playoff game by the Kansas City Chiefs, the impossible happened.
Colts sell out today's Kansas City game
There will be no local television blackouts in the NFL this weekend.
The Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers said Friday that their weekend wild-card playoff games are sellouts. Normally, teams must sell out 72 hours before kickoff to have a game broadcast in their local market. The NFL gave the Colts, Bengals and Packers an extra day to do it.
The Colts host Kansas City today. On Sunday, the Packers host San Francisco and the Bengals host San Diego.
NFL honors Colts' Mathis with Deacon Jones Award
Robert Mathis never got to see Deacon Jones take down opposing quarterbacks in person.
He learned to appreciate Jones’ creativity over time.
The Colts Pro Bowl linebacker and newly crowned sacks champion was honored Thursday as the inaugural winner of the NFL’s Deacon Jones Award, which goes to the league’s sacks leader. Mathis will be recognized at the NFL award banquet Feb. 1.
Victory over Chiefs means nil, Mathis says
Robert Mathis doesn’t care that the Indianapolis Colts registered a 23-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium two weeks ago.
Record-setting Indy win
Finish the National Football League regular season strong. That’s what the Indianapolis Colts wanted to accomplish Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
In major gain, Colts lead NFL in fewest turnovers
Play clean. That’s been a credo that the Indianapolis Colts have tried to live by this season.
Has Luck's growth been accelerated by Colts' adversity? Probably
Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck is quickly becoming known as a guy who can quickly adjust to any situation.
Toeing the line: Colts’ offensive line getting healthy, finding niche as playoffs near
The Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line has certainly taken its share of hits this season, both on and off the field.
Colts’ chief strength: No panic
The Indianapolis Colts had watched the Kansas City Chiefs march downfield for an easy score on the first series of the game, yet nobody on their sideline seemed to be worried.
In fact, it seemed as if their confidence soared.
Luck has knack for knowing when to run
To run or not to run. When it comes to Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck, his competitive nature usually comes into play.
Loss at Chiefs could cost Colts bye in playoffs
Chuck Pagano doesn’t have to make his Indianapolis Colts players aware of the playoff implications surrounding the team’s road game at Kansas City on Sunday.
Back in the mix: Colts are hoping to improve their playoff seeding in final two weeks of NFL’s regular season
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano stresses that he is not a scoreboard watcher when it comes to other National Football League games.
Back in stride: Colts finally put points on board early, roll to ninth victory of season
It had been a long time in coming, a National Football League game in which the Indianapolis Colts had a comfortable lead well into the second half.
Whalen, Richardson make waves on offense
It’s not too hard to figure out who the offensive and defensive players of the game were in the Indianapolis Colts’ 25-3 win over Houston Sunday.
Mathis, Colts hoping to gain defensive momentum against Texans
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis, one of the Indianapolis Colts two most vested veterans, has taken it upon himself to make sure his team is ready for Sunday’s AFC South matchup with Houston (1 p.m., CBS Sports).
Mathis and injured wide receiver Reggie Wayne have been with the Colts the longest. They, along with defensive end Cory Redding and safety Antoine Bethea, have become important voices in the Indianapolis locker room.
Colts not apologizing for way they won division title
Backing into the AFC South title? The Indianapolis Colts are not apologizing to anyone for claiming the franchise’s eighth division crown since the start of the 2002 season.
Bungles — including refs’ — benefit Bengals
Give the Cincinnati Bengals plenty of credit. In a game that pitted two of the AFC’s better teams and two of the National Football League’s best young quarterbacks, the home-standing Bengals took care of business.
- More Colts Headlines
- Colts sign former Giants receiver Nicks