AFC South: James Jones

Free-agency primer: Colts

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
11:00
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Key free agents: CB Vontae Davis, S Antoine Bethea, K Adam Vinatieri, RB Donald Brown

Where they stand: The Colts have the fourth-most salary-cap space ($41 million) in the league. They solved one of their issues when they signed inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson on Thursday to start alongside Jerrell Freeman, Erik Walden and Robert Mathis. Davis is the most important player to re-sign with having to acquire a new starting center next in line after Samson Satele was released on March 6. The Colts re-signed punter Pat McAfee to a five-year deal Friday. The 41-year-old Vinatieri believes he can kick for several more seasons. Expect the Colts to look to add depth at receiver to give quarterback Andrew Luck another target to go with receivers T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.

What to expect: The Colts should be able to work out a deal with Davis, who was inconsistent last season but has the talent to be one of the top cornerbacks in the league. Don't expect the Colts to go with a rookie or second-year player as their starting center. The position is too valuable for them to go that direction with their franchise player, Luck, taking the snaps. New Orleans' Brian De La Puente and Green Bay's Evan Dietrich-Smith are both free agents. Denver receiver Eric Decker is an ideal receiver to go with Hilton and Wayne. The Colts and Decker have mutual interest, but he may be out of their price range if he wants to be paid like a No. 1 receiver. Hakeem Nicks and James Jones are also free agents the Colts could pursue. Acquiring a veteran guard is a better option than drafting one, because Indianapolis has the talent to take another step in the AFC next season. Decker's teammate in Denver, guard Zane Beadles, is a free agent.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The start of the free agency is less than two weeks away. Receiver is one of the positions that the Indianapolis Colts need to address through free agency, trade or the draft.

It’s about the present and the future for them at that position.

Decker
Depth was an issue for the Colts at the start of last season. It was a bigger issue when Reggie Wayne crumbled to the ground with a torn ACL against Denver in Week 7 and it remained an issue when the season ended last month.

The Colts can't get away with not adding any players at receiver. All indications point to Wayne returning from his knee injury, but you have to be realistic, too. Nobody knows what type of player he’ll be when he returns because he’s 35 years old. That leaves T.Y. Hilton and young receivers like Da'Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill and Griff Whalen.

This takes us to the free-agent market. There was a report Wednesday that the Colts have interest in Denver receiver Eric Decker.

Decker is looking for a big payday like all free agents do. He told SiriusXM NFL Radio in an interview earlier this month that he needs to do what is the “best for my family.”

The Colts will have money to spend – the fourth-most salary cap space – but they’re going to be frugal spenders with all their money. That's bascially what general manager Ryan Grigson said last week at the combine.

Decker caught 87 passes for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

My issue with Decker is that you can't pay him like he’s a No. 1 receiver because he’s not a No. 1 receiver. He's more of a solid No. 2 receiver. He put up those nice numbers while not having to face the other team's best cornerback. Things could be different if Decker's asking price isn’t too much.

And if that’s the case, why leave Peyton Manning and Denver when you have a chance to make at least one more run at winning the Super Bowl?

Here's a look at some 2013 stats of some notable wideouts who are set to hit the free-agent market:

Mel Kiper has a new first round out. It’s not for the 2013 draft. It’s for 2007 Insider.

The top six picks in this redraft read like an eventual Hall of Fame class.

But the AFC South didn’t have its first pick until 10th.

Here’s how Kiper envisions it unfolding if it played out now, based on what guys have done and he expects will still do:

10th -- Houston Texans
Actual pick: Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville.

Redraft pick: LaMarr Woodley, DE, Texans (actually drafted 46th by Pittsburgh).

 

19th – Tennessee Titans
Actual pick: Michael Griffin, S, Texans. Denver takes Griffin 17th here. (A bad pick for both teams in both scenarios.)

Redraft pick: James Jones, WR, San Diego State (actually drafted 78th by Green Bay).

 

21st – Jacksonville Jaguars
Actual pick: Reggie Nelson, S, Florida. New England takes Nelson 24th here.

Redraft pick: Jon Beason, LB, Miami (actually drafted 25th by Carolina).

 

32nd – Indianapolis Colts
Actual pick: Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Ohio State

Redraft pick: Zach Miller, TE, Arizona State (actually drafted 38th by Oakland).

 

One other relevant redraft pick: Baltimore takes Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State 29th. He was actually drafted 34th by Buffalo. He’s now with Jacksonville.

Rapid Reaction: Packers 42, Texans 24

October, 14, 2012
10/14/12
11:40
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HOUSTON -- Thoughts on the Houston Texans' 42-24 blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers at Reliant Stadium on Sunday night:

What it means: The Texans can be susceptible to a talented and desperate team with a top-flight quarterback. Houston didn’t adjust well in its first game without inside linebacker Brian Cushing, lost for the season to a torn ACL suffered Monday night against the Jets. Star cornerback Johnathan Joseph didn’t look like himself for the second week in a row. The Texans are still three wins up on Indianapolis and Tennessee in the AFC South.

What I didn’t like: The defensive effort was atrocious. Yes, Rodgers was back to the form that won him MVP last season. But he threw for 338 yards and six touchdowns, three to Jordy Nelson, two to James Jones and one to Tom Crabtree. (Graham Harrell replaced Rodgers late in the fourth quarter.) Houston rushed OK in spurts, but generally did little to throw Rodgers off his game. Texans fans got out of Reliant Stadium in a hurry, leaving Packers fans to send a “Go Pack, Go” chant around the venue.

What I liked: The Texans managed to get Andre Johnson back in the flow with eight catches for 75 yards. He has been under-utilized lately, so it was nice to see him back. In the fourth quarter, Johnson topped 10,000 career receiving yards. He did it in his 128th game, the sixth-fastest player to the mark in NFL history.

Injury concerns: Right guard Antoine Caldwell, who yields time some to rookie Ben Jones as part of a rotation, was knocked out of the game with a concussion.

Special teams: Penalties were an issue for the Texans on special teams. They did get a late blocked punt by Bryan Braman, which DeVier Posey recovered for a touchdown.

What’s next: The Texans host another giant game as the Baltimore Ravens come to town. The Texans were knocked out of last season’s playoffs a game short of the AFC title game by the Ravens in Baltimore and the two figure to be prime candidates for home field advantage through the playoffs.

Free-agency outlook: Titans

July, 14, 2011
7/14/11
1:00
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The Titans have plenty of areas that could use an upgrade. And they look to have a fair amount of money to spend to improve their roster.

I list their top three needs as interior offensive line, middle linebacker and wide receiver when considering star-in-the-making Kenny Britt’s off-the-field issues. But Tennessee absolutely needs to find a veteran quarterback. And it could use more help at tight end behind Jared Cook, safety and defensive tackle. The Titans also have to get Chris Johnson’s contract situation squared away.

[+] EnlargeMarshal Yanda
Larry French/Getty ImagesMarshal Yanda would be a nice fit for new coach Mike Munchak.
Marshal Yanda: Yanda would be a favorite of head coach Mike Munchak and O-line coach Bruce Matthews. He is tough, smart, versatile and technically sound. And he might just be the best offensive lineman up for free agency. In fact, I bet Yanda would be a favorite of Jake Locker and Johnson, too. A fantastic consolation prize would be Harvey Dahl. Nasty to the core, Dahl would be a great addition at guard for Munchak’s squad.

Donovan McNabb: I can’t find many good fits for McNabb around the league at this point. But Tennessee does seem like a logical landing spot. Plagued with accuracy problems during his career, but also possessing very good strength and movement skills, McNabb and Locker have many similarities. McNabb might be the perfect bridge quarterback until the rookie is ready. Matt Hasselbeck would also be a suitable option as a mentor to Locker.

Mike Sims-Walker: Fully counting on Britt doesn’t seem too smart right now. But just think of the skill-player talent Tennessee would have with Britt, Sims-Walker, Cook and Johnson out of the backfield. That could make Locker’s transition to the pros much smoother. Of course, Sims-Walker isn’t the easiest guy to count on either, but his talent is obvious and his wide catching radius could be ideal for Locker. James Jones would also be a suitable option here.

Stephen Tulloch: Although he doesn’t make many big plays and is just average in coverage, Tulloch is a tackling machine who is in the prime of his career. Tennessee is going to be bigger on the defensive line and should be able to protect its linebackers better with this new scheme. A stabilizing force like Tulloch would help a very young group of second level defenders for Tennessee.

Vonta Leach: Despite his reputation, Ahmard Hall was not effective enough as a lead-blocking fullback for Tennessee last year. Leach is the best in the business at this skill. And stealing him away from Houston should greatly weaken the Texans’ ground attack. A bruiser like Leach would fit the new coaching staff’s persona to a T.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com. Follow Matt Williamson on Twitter @WilliamsonNFL.

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