For draft, Polian will presume FAs are gone

April, 6, 2011
4/06/11
11:07
AM ET
With the draft slated to take place ahead of free agency, how will teams determine their needs if they don't know whether they will be able to retain their own guys with expiring contracts?

Colts vice chairman Bill Polian said he’ll take a worst-case scenario approach.

I asked him, as an example, whether safety ranks as a Colts draft need considering Melvin Bullitt could be an unrestricted free agent if a new CBA is struck.

“I think you have to go into the draft and say, ‘Anybody who’s out there [as a possible unrestricted free agent] is not coming back,'” Polian said. “Now, that’s for draft purposes. Don’t misconstrue what I am saying. That’s for purposes of evaluating players in the draft.

“We hope like the devil to get Melvin Bullitt back. I don’t know if we will or we won’t.”

I feel certain that thinking doesn’t apply to Peyton Manning, who isn't under contract for 2011 but who got a franchise tag before the CBA expired.

Elsewhere, Polian's comment gives us some insight into what Indianapolis may be looking to address in the draft.

Among the Colts’ potential free agents to-be are running back Joseph Addai, left tackle Charlie Johnson, linebacker Clint Session, defensive tackles Antonio Johnson and Daniel Muir and kicker Adam Vinatieri.

The Colts probably have enough at running back and linebacker even without Addai and Session. Maybe there is a blue-chip guy too good to resist, but otherwise a late pick to help ensure depth could suffice. But offensive line is a primary need even if Johnson returns and a big defensive tackle could be an upgrade over Johnson or Muir.

Of that group, only Vinatieri will be unrestricted if the lockout is lifted by the courts and the NFL imposes the most recent set of rules. In that scenario, players need six years rather than four to reach unrestricted free agency.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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