NFL Nation: Ryan Grigson

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Carlie Irsay-Gordon, the 33-year-old with a wide range of interests, from performing arts to majoring in religious studies in college, was working on her Ph.D in psychology when she had to put that on hold.

The likely plan, the one that's been in the making for years, to have Irsay-Gordon and her sisters, Casey Foyt and Kalen Irsay, eventually run the Indianapolis Colts was accelerated because of an unfortunate situation involving their father and owner of the team, Jim Irsay.

So here Irsay-Gordon sits at the top, giving the final "yes" or "no" on decisions made by Colts general manager Ryan Grigson on the football side and chief operating officer Pete Ward on the business side.

Irsay's decision to enter a rehabilitation facility for his addictions following his arrest last month has lifted Irsay-Gordon from the shadows and into the front of the organization until her father returns.

"She'll do well. She's a sharp businessperson," former Colts assistant and current Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "She's very much like her father; she has great personality, she's extremely bright, she has a good feeling for people. I've worked for a bunch of owners, and Jim Irsay -- he talks about faith, family and football. It's real. And she has that same mindset."

Irsay-Gordon joins principle owners Martha Ford, widow of the late Detroit Lions owner Bill Ford Sr., and Virginia McCaskey of the Chicago Bears as the only females running NFL franchises.

[+] EnlargeCarlie Irsay-Gordon
AJ Mast/AP PhotoColts vice chair/owner Carlie Irsay-Gordon (center) presents a jersey to Scott West and his wife, Julie West, on Oct. 6, 2013.
Irsay-Gordon started as an intern in the team's football and marketing department and worked her way up to her current title of vice chair/owner prior to the 2012 season. She graduated from Skidmore College in upstate New York, where she majored in religious studies, and she has represented the Colts at the NFL owners meetings every year since 2004. She and Grigson were bouncing ideas off each other throughout the meetings in Orlando, Fla., last week.

"She never ceases to amaze me with some of the questions she asks. She has it," Grigson said. "I've told this to Jim because I know these are the things that he would like to hear. And it's why [coach] Chuck [Pagano] and I have a great working relationship with her, because she gets it. It's not like we're sitting here trying to explain things to her. She already has a really good base of knowledge, and not just from an operations standpoint with dollars and [the salary] cap."

Irsay-Gordon, who is married to an attorney and has three children, has declined all interview requests because of her father's legal situation.

Like her father, football runs deep in Irsay-Gordon's blood. She's been around it her entire life.

"I grew up in a football family, so I know exactly what it's like to grow up in a football family and be around it your entire life," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "You can see that."

The Colts are in a delicate state because they're trying to continue to move up in the AFC and they don't want Irsay's legal and personal situation to become a distraction. There's no getting around it, the situation will remain, but Irsay-Gordon isn't expected to be a boss who will constantly be looking over Grigson and Ward.

"How much interaction do we have? They have their jobs to do and we have our jobs to do," Pagano said. "The great thing about the entire Irsay family is that they hired us to do a job and they let us to do our job. So, when we have to communicate, those lines of communication are always there. They're always open. It's a great working environment, and we have great working relationships with all those people."

The similarities are unmistakable between father and daughter. They're "wired" the same when it comes to football, according to Pagano. Irsay-Gordon hates losing more than she loves winning -- much like her father.

One of the biggest differences is that you won't find Irsay-Gordon on Twitter the same way her father uses it to voice his displeasure when the team isn't living up to his expectations. She's tweeted only nine times to her nearly 800 followers in four-plus years.

"She expects [excellence] just like her father does," Grigson said. " ... That's something that their father, I'm sure, has ingrained in them. But at the same time, there's a tremendous amount of respect given to everyone in the building, and they display that. There's no pretentiousness or condescension. You know who's in charge, but the delivery, I think, is something that's unique in this league."
INDIANAPOLIS -- The initial thought by the Indianapolis Colts and safety Antoine Bethea was that they would have a chance to work out a new deal during the offseason.

Those thoughts changed as the offseason progressed because the communication between the two sides got less and less.

Then, it happened. Bethea, who started every game he played in during his eight years with the Colts, signed a deal with the San Francisco 49ers on the same day free agency started on March 11.

“It’s tough to have to replace a guy that this organization had for eight years and played the way he played and what he did for the Colts and the city,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “It’s a harsh reality of today’s NFL -- you can’t keep everybody, and that’s what hurt. But you have to move on.”

Like general manager Ryan Grigson, Pagano talked about Delano Howell and Sergio Brown as potential in-house candidates to replace Bethea alongside LaRon Landry at safety.

The Colts' coach turned his attention to the draft and said they would like to select a safety.

“There are some great safeties in the draft,” Pagano said. “We have our board set, we’ll tweak it as we go through the month of April, go to pro days and gather information on the draft. We’ll see how the draft goes and how the board is once we get to our first pick. It’ll be nice to get a young one in the fold, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Here are the top 10 safeties in the May draft according to Scouts Inc. Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor are projected to be first-round picks.

 
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The issues with the interior part of the Indianapolis Colts' offensive line have been obvious since before the middle of last season.

The Colts, they think, have addressed their center problems by releasing Samson Satele earlier this month and signing Phil Costa to compete with Khaled Holmes to be the starter.

Hugh Thornton will have a chance to hold down one of the guard positions. The other position will likely be taken by Donald Thomas next season.

Thomas only gave you a brief tease of what he can do in a Colts uniform because he didn’t make it through the second week of the season. Thomas’ first season with the Colts ended when he tore a tendon in his quad in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said Tuesday that Thomas also tore his biceps in the same game.

"In that same series," Grigson said. "And he played through a torn biceps. But you're not going to play through a torn quad."

Grigson referred to Thomas as being “on the right track” with working his way back from both of those injuries.

“With a guy like Donald, in a strange way, this is almost good for him,” Grigson said. “He’s one of those guys I really identify with. He’s always had a chip on his shoulder. ... He was really playing well and he really helped our interior. Now he’s getting that quad strength.

“He’s squatting. I told him I really felt like this offseason his lower body strength and through his hips, he’s stronger than 9 acres of garlic up top. The guy is so strong with his upper body. He just has to really get that lower body with the quad injury as strong as possible so he’s a complete player in our interior.”

The key with the Colts’ line is consistency. It showed some flashes at times last season, but flashes don't get the job done. The Colts need to protect quarterback Andrew Luck and open up lanes for the running backs every play, not every few plays.

Thomas will bring some stability to the interior part of the offensive line. That’s what the Colts hope at least.

“A guy with experience, we only had a short glimpse [last season],” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “He’s busting his rear rehabbing trying to get well with the quad and bicep. He’s doing great, he’s on track to be back for training camp. It’ll be great to have him back.”
Andrew LuckElsa/Getty ImagesWith an improved running game, the Colts won't have to rely on Andrew Luck to save each game.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- It was one of those moments that could easily send chills up your spine or cause you to break out in goose bumps as the words came out of Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano's mouth early Tuesday morning, as the sun was still making its way up in Central Florida.

The Colts have a quarterback -- a pretty a darn good one, I must say -- who has consistently proven in just two short seasons that he has everything it takes to lead a team that has dealt with on- and off-the-field adversity.

Arm? Check.

Mobility? A hidden talent of his.

Mental toughness? There's no question he has that.

The results prove it. Twenty-two regular-season victories. An AFC South division title. A playoff victory.

Enter Pagano.

"From a mindset standpoint, it all starts with running the ball and stopping the run," the coach said in between sips of his coffee. "We do have a great quarterback, with a great arm and he has weapons to throw to. Certainly we understand that and we know that."

Pagano also added that they'll continue to emphasize running the ball, "until they run me out of there."

The Colts will run the ball, especially with three running backs -- Trent Richardson, Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw -- who have all been starters at some point in their careers. But don't be mistaken about what Pagano said, Luck will still drop back in the pocket and fling the ball downfield more than he hands it off. That's their best chance to win.

There are legitimate question marks about the Colts' top three running backs next season.

Ballard is coming off a torn ACL. Bradshaw needs to prove he can stay healthy. Richardson, well, simply put, he's still a work in progress after being traded to Indianapolis early last season.

The Colts tried to run the ball in 2013. But the thought of them having anything close to a ground game came to a halt in Week 3 when Bradshaw's season ended because of a neck injury. Richardson and Donald Brown simply didn't get the job done -- partially because of offensive line problems and partially because of a lack of production from the two running backs.

That left Luck using his arm to bail the Colts out of deficits. They threw the ball 582 times compared to 409 rush attempts last season.

The NFL is a copycat league. What the Colts and 27 other teams saw was the final four teams playing -- New England, Denver, Seattle and San Francisco -- all mixing in the run to go with their talented quarterbacks.

The Colts experienced it firsthand, as the Patriots ran for 234 yards against them in their AFC divisional playoff matchup -- a 43-22 loss.

A successful run game is what Indianapolis wants. Not Luck strapping on his cape to lead the Colts back from constant double-digit holes.

Also, Luck could have his best arsenal of weapons to throw to in his young career with the addition of receiver Hakeem Nicks to go with fellow receiver T.Y. Hilton, tight end Coby Fleener and the hopeful healthy return of receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Dwayne Allen. Throw in a consistent running game -- cross your fingers the offensive line can block better -- and it's the type of offense that will allow the Colts to be successful.

"We're not going to try to do things to make us lose," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "...All that matters at the end of the day is that you make the playoffs and if you can win in the playoffs. We don't want to make it all on Andrew. We want to give him help with our stable of running backs and [with] our offensive line creating those lanes to open up the play-action pass, so it takes the pressure off of him."
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Faith. Family. Football.

Those are the three things Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay constantly preaches to those in the organization. Those three things have strong ties to Irsay today and will tomorrow and in the future.

The faith has to be there that Irsay can overcome his unfortunate addiction. There's no better time than now for Irsay's immediate family and football family to stick by him as he works his way through rehabilitation. And at some point, many hope sooner rather than later, Irsay will be back running his football team on a day-to-day basis.

"We're going to support Jim no matter what and the biggest thing, No. 1, is his well-being, just getting healthier," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said in between sessions at the NFL owners meetings Monday. "We miss him, love him, wish he was here with us. But again, like I said, I'm not the only guy who would take a bullet for this man."

Irsay isn't at the owners meetings. His daughter Carlie Irsay-Gordon is in Orlando, Fla., representing the franchise while her father is at a health-care facility.

"My whole family's prayers are going for him," Arizona Cardinals coach and former Colts interim coach Bruce Arians said. "Let's hope he comes back strong."

Irsay faces four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance after being arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving in the northern Indianapolis suburb of Carmel late March 16.

"Anyone who knows Jim Irsay [knows he] is a good guy," New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "He's a kind man, he's well-intentioned, and he's in my prayers. What's happened to him has not changed my opinion of him."

The Colts say they'll be fine with the day-to-day operations while Irsay is in rehab. Truth be told, they'll miss him. Irsay isn't one of those hands-on owners who's always meddling in things, but general manager Ryan Grigson uses his owner as a sounding board. That's not surprising considering Irsay was the Colts' general manager from 1984 to 1993.

Arians recalls Irsay coming out to practice every Thursday when he was the team's interim coach while Pagano battled leukemia in 2012 and they'd walk off the field together talking about a wide range of subjects.

"I don't care which game it was, which year it was, which player it was, schematically, offense, defensive philosophy, he knows it inside and out," Pagano said. "He's been around it forever and ever. He's got a bright eye for not only talent, but everything else he has to do to run a successful program."
The talk of the NFL's free-agency period through the first two weeks in the AFC has centered on the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots.

The Broncos bulked up their defense by acquiring defensive end DeMarcus Ware, safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Aqib Talib to go with quarterback Peyton Manning and the rest of the offense. The Patriots signed cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner while re-signing receiver Julian Edelman.

The Indianapolis Colts?

They didn’t make any free-agent splashes outside of re-signing cornerback Vontae Davis. General manager Ryan Grigson easily could have panicked as the Patriots and Broncos, the two teams who played in the AFC Championship Game last season, made their moves.

Nope.

The Colts went into the free-agency period with a plan, a plan they weren’t going to deviate from. Grigson said they signed all the players they wanted to get.

"You're competitive, but you can't be competitive in that way where you're watching what they're doing and say, 'We’re going to one-up you.' That makes no sense to me," he said. "We're in our own little world over here with our own vision of the future with our own set of problems and circumstances and things we're trying to work through positionally and needs we're trying to address. And they have a completely different landscape on all of those different teams."

The Broncos loaded up their roster in an attempt to make at least one more run at a Super Bowl with Manning before his Hall of Fame career likely ends in the next couple of years.

The Colts, like the other 31 teams, want to win the Super Bowl, but don’t have a short window to win a title like Denver and New England. Their quarterback, Andrew Luck, is headed into only his third season. Grigson also has to be financially conscious because they’ll have to pay players such as Luck, offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo and receiver T.Y. Hilton sooner than later.

"It's a team effort when we bring guys into the building," Grigson said. "We really attack it like a team and at the end of the day, we stick to our plan and our vision. Again, it's forward thinking and always looking ahead and not necessarily living in the now even though we feel like Super Bowl XLIX is something that we can attain. With the quarterback that we have and the young players around him, you want to build for sustained success. It's something that you have to stay disciplined in day in and day out."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Khaled Holmes and Phil Costa.

Those two names might cause you to look at their Wikipedia page to find out their background.

Here’s the condensed version of who Holmes and Costa are: They are centers for the Indianapolis Colts and will be the two competing for the right to hike the ball to franchise quarterback Andrew Luck next season.

[+] EnlargePhil Costa
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesThe Colts signed center Phil Costa to a one-year, $1.2 million contract. He'll compete with Khaled Holmes for the starting job this fall.
That essentially was the message general manager Ryan Grigson passed along during a conference call with reporters late Friday morning.

“We feel pretty good where we’re at,” he said. “You always like to be able to plug in a Pro Bowler there or someone that’s a five-year starter, have that luxury, but I’ll say this to make this point: You guys had great success here with (Jeff) Saturday who was a (college free agent) that I think was stocking shelves when they brought him in.

“About center in general, I personally have been fortunate enough to be to three Super Bowls with two teams, and on all three of those teams the centers were (college free agents). That’s a position where you can find a quality guy and you don’t need always to have that high-profile player at that spot."

Samson Satele was the Colts’ starting center the past two seasons, but he was released this month after performing poorly last season.

The Colts had interest in Cleveland center Alex Mack, but being able to land him was a longshot from the start because the Browns used their transition tag on him, meaning they could match any offer made to Mack.

Indianapolis signed Costa, who spent his first four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, to a one-year, $1.2 million contract last week. He started every game in 2011 for the Cowboys. His 2012 season was cut short because of ankle and back problems. Costa, an undrafted free agent, dressed for 12 games in 2013 but only played in three of those games, losing his starting job to Travis Frederick, the team’s first-round pick last season.

Holmes, the Colts’ fourth-round pick in 2013, still remains a 6-3, 319-pound mystery. He played a total of 12 snaps last season. That number is alarming when you consider the problems the Colts had on the interior part of the offensive line last season.

“We signed Phil Costa, he’s a tough young center that has started games,” Grigson said. “We drafted Khaled Holmes to be that center of the future. He never got a chance in camp really because of the ankle, so he’s still a little bit of an unknown at the professional level. But it’s going to be a good competition.”

So for now, learn as much as you can about Holmes and Costa, because they are currently the two players with the best shot of being the Colts’ starting center next season.
INDIANAPOLIS – Owner Jim Irsay’s decision to voluntarily enter a health-care facility has a trickle down affect on the Indianapolis Colts.

But does it have a large impact?

Irsay has history of being a general manager. He was the NFL's youngest general manager when he served in that capacity as a 24 year old in 1984. Irsay has been an excellent sounding board for current general manager Ryan Grigson, who just completed his second season in that role.

Irsay won’t be around the team while he deals with his personal issues at the treatment facility, but his absence won’t have a significant impact on the day-to-day operations of the Colts because they have capable people to handle the business and football side of things.

Irsay’s daughter Carlie Irsay-Gordon will have the final say on team’s decisions if necessary.

Grigson will continue to run the football operation on a day-to-day basis. Chief operating officer Pete Ward, who has been with the Colts for 33 years, will be in charge of things on the business side.

Who is Carlie Irsay-Gordon?
  • Irsay-Gordon joined the Colts as vice president in 2008
  • She just completed her second season as vice-chair/owner
  • Interned in the football and marketing departments while in college
The Carolina Panthers made an offer to Hakeem Nicks thinking they had a legitimate shot to sign the former New York Giants receiver.

That was until the Indianapolis Colts stepped in and not only offered Nicks a one-year contract worth up to $5.5 million, but also an opportunity to be on the receiving end of passes from quarterback Andrew Luck and be a part of a team that could be one of the best in the AFC next season.

ESPN.com Panthers reporter David Newton and Colts reporter Mike Wells talk about Nicks' decision to sign with Indianapolis

[+] EnlargeHakeem Nicks
Al Bello/Getty ImagesHakeem Nicks chose the Indianapolis Colts over the Carolina Panthers.
Wells: David, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton proved last season that he's one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. But Luck has proven in just two years -- with 22 victories -- that he has the complete package: arm, foot speed and mental toughness. So it seems Nicks made the right decision to sign with the Colts. What are your thoughts?

Newton: Totally agree. When Nicks picked Indy over Carolina I mentioned one of the reasons may have been Luck was the more proven quarterback. It didn't sit well with Carolina fans. My argument was simple. Two trips to the playoffs to one. But the bigger reason is Nicks will be surrounded by proven receivers in Indy. Maybe that would have happened at Carolina, but at the time of the decision the Panthers didn't have a receiver on its roster with an NFL catch. When Brandon LaFell signed with New England on Saturday that guaranteed Newton won't have any of his top four wide receivers from last season. At Carolina, Nicks risked the possibility of being double-teamed because there wasn't anybody proven to take coverage away. He would have been the clear-cut No. 1, and I'm not sure he's a No. 1. Luck also has a more established offensive line. So when I said Luck was more proven there were other factors around that.

Having said that, if you were starting a team from scratch would you pick Luck or Newton?

Wells: I like how Newton played last season, but I've still got to give Luck the edge over him and players such as Seattle's Russell Wilson and San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick. Luck's résumé speaks for itself. He led the Colts to an 11-5 record during a rookie season when his coach, Chuck Pagano, missed 12 games while battling cancer. He repeated that record last season while losing five offensive starters by Week 7. Luck has led the Colts on 11 fourth quarter or overtime game-winning drives in his young NFL career. Should I continue? It also helps that Luck's Colts have already beaten the Seahawks and 49ers. Maybe you and I can corner Rob Chudzinski somewhere after the season and ask him his thoughts because he obviously coached Newton in Carolina and he's about to coach Luck with the Colts next season.

It seems like the Panthers don't seem to know which direction they're headed with players like receiver Steve Smith being released. Am I wrong to think that could sway a free agent's decision?

Newton: It would have to cast doubt. It certainly casts doubt in my mind. It'll all come down to how convincing general manager Dave Gettleman is on selling his plan. And yes, there's a plan. Jerricho Cotchery is coming in for a visit on Monday and James Jones says he'd like to play for Carolina. If the Panthers can get a couple of solid veterans -- even if they aren't bona fide No. 1s, and select a dynamic receiver with either their first- or second-round pick, the receiving corps potentially could be better than last season. Even Smith admitted he's not a No. 1 anymore. So for all the grief I've given Gettleman for making a mistake in dumping Smith, in the long run it could work out. I mean, the beef on LaFell last season was he wasn't a bona fide No. 2. Ted Ginn Jr. had a nice season, but he had only two catches the year before. Domenik Hixon had only one catch that impacted a game. So big picture, they didn't really lose a lot.

So how do you expect Nicks to fit in at Indianapolis? Can he help put Indy over the top?

Wells: Colts fans are a little leery because there was high hope last year when Darrius Heyward-Bey, the No. 7 pick in the 2009 draft, signed a one-year contract the same way Nicks did. Heyward-Bey, to put it as nice as possible, was brutal last season. So brutal that he ended up being demoted to special teams where he actually did a great job downing punts inside the 20-yard line. I think Nicks will fit in nicely because he doesn't have the pressure of being the No. 1 receiver. He simply has to just fit in alongside of fellow receivers Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. Tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener are also receiving options for Luck. The fact that Nicks had almost 900 yards receiving last season and that was considered a down year for him is a good thing for the Colts. Luck will find him as long as he can get open.

Newton needs somebody to throw the ball to. What are the Panthers going to do since Smith is gone and Nicks decided playing with the Colts was a better option?

Newton: As I mentioned above, Cotchery is coming in for a visit and I still believe they'll get Jones. The plan is to find a few bargains and blend them in with a draft pick. Smith would have made a nice No. 2 receiver in this package in my opinion. But from everything I gather Newton won't be heartbroken to see his top receiver gone. Smith has gotten in Newton's face more than a few times the past few years. As much as that may have been needed, there is a belief on the team that Smith might have been a distraction to Newton as the central leader of the offense. It will be interesting to hear how Newton spins it when we finally hear from him.

Now that the Colts have Nicks, what's the rest of their free-agency plans?

Wells: General manager Ryan Grigson has put an emphasis on defense so far. They still need to find a safety to replace Antoine Bethea, who signed with San Francisco last week. The interior part of the offensive line could use some help, too. They signed former Dallas center Phil Costa last week. The Colts haven't completely shut the door on Cleveland center Alex Mack even though it is a longshot that they'll be to get him because the Browns used the transition tag on him. Adding another guard wouldn't be a bad idea, either.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts knew something had to be done. This is nothing against Da'Rick Rodgers, Griff Whalen and LaVon Brazill. They all ended up progressing by the end of last season.

Nicks
But the Colts had to get an upgrade at receiver. They needed to give quarterback Andrew Luck another veteran player to throw to besides T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne.

Enter Hakeem Nicks.

Nicks, who spent his first five seasons with the New York Giants, let it be known earlier this week that he had interest in catching passes from Luck next season. He flew into Indianapolis on Thursday and met with the team officials Friday. A sign things were going well occurred when the team posted a picture of Nicks walking around the facility on Twitter late Friday afternoon. Colts general manager Ryan Grigson isn't one to fly in a bunch of players he's interested in just for kicks. He must have an incredible sales pitch because most players usually leave Indianapolis having agreed to a deal.

Depth at receiver was an issue all last season for the Colts. There were times when you didn't know who was going to help Hilton and tight end Coby Fleener with catching balls from Luck.

The Colts signed Nicks at the right time because the receiver free-agent market had started to dry up with players such as Steve Smith, Jacoby Jones and Eric Decker signing deals.

Just like Darrius Heyward-Bey last year, Nicks comes to the Colts with something to prove.

Nicks wants to get back to displaying the skills that allowed him to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2010-11. Unlike Heyward-Bey, though, Nicks won't turn out to be a disaster.

Nicks had somewhat of a down year last season when he had 896 yards receiving and didn't catch a touchdown for the first time in his career. So motivation alone by the 26-year-old Nicks will help him and the Colts.

The key question remains for the Colts now at receiver is what type of player Wayne will be once he hits the field for Week 1 of the regular season in the fall. He's 35 years old and working his way back from a torn ACL, suffered in Week 7 last season. There's no question Wayne is putting in the time to work his way back -- coach Chuck Pagano said there's been times he's been at facility seven days a week -- but age isn't on his side.

The pressure won't be on Wayne to carry the load with Nicks and Hilton, who emerged as Luck's go-to receiver after Wayne went down last season.

Just like the Colts want it.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts signed what possibly could be their starting center when the 2014 regular season opens in the fall.

The Colts signed former Dallas Cowboys center Phil Costa to a two-year contract reportedly worth $2.7 million.

Costa started 20 of 26 games he appeared in over the past four seasons with the Cowboys. His durability is a question, though. He has only started three games the past two seasons.

So I know you’re wondering: What does this mean in the Colts’ pursuit of Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack?

It’s not good.

The Colts, especially general manager Ryan Grigson, are always looking to improve the roster and their door is never completely shut, but signing Costa drastically reduces the odds of them pursuing Mack, according to an NFL source.

The Colts also have Khaled Holmes on the roster.

And while some would still like the Colts to make a run at Mack, you also have to remember that Indianapolis isn’t in control of that situation. The Browns placed the transition tag on Mack, meaning they can match an offer made to him.

Free agency is only in Day 3, there’s still a long way to go. The Colts can add another center to the roster at some point in the offseason, and I won't be surprised if they do.

It just likely won’t be Mack.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Ryan Grigson didn't have time to spare five minutes on the phone to do an interview. He was too busy talking and wearing his thumbs out texting agents as he prepared for the start of free agency.

The questions, just three of them I might add, were sent via email to the Indianapolis Colts general manager.

"In the middle of free agency, I felt like I had a homework assignment due," Grigson jokingly wrote after answering the questions.

[+] EnlargeRyan Grigson
AP Photo/Johnny VyRyan Grigson and the Colts have set the expectations high, and nothing short of the Super Bowl will suffice for the general manager.
If you know Grigson, you know he's always working, never settling for what happened in the past. He's that nonstop workaholic who is always believing another move should be made to improve the team.

That mindset was a necessity for Grigson when he took over for the fired Bill Polian in 2012. The Colts were coming off a 2-14 season after which they not only dismissed Polian, but also said their final goodbyes to quarterback Peyton Manning after 14 years, 11 playoff games and two Super Bowl appearances.

So the rebuilding process couldn't take long for Grigson, the first-time general manager. Not with holdovers like Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis and Antoine Bethea used to winning.

Grigson is headed into Year 3 of not rebuilding the Colts, but building off the success the franchise has had in the past two years.

They're 22-10 and made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, while dealing with the loss of coach Chuck Pagano for 12 games while battling leukemia in 2012 and the loss of five offensive starters last season.

"The element of surprise kind of goes away when you have such high expectations," Grigson said. "This is a winning organization and the bar is set high. I think that kind of environment is a healthy one for everyone involved. I'd hate to be somewhere that your expectation was anything less than being Super Bowl champs every year."

Grigson and Pagano walked into the perfect situation.

Andrew Luck, the best quarterback taken No. 1 overall since, well, Manning in 1998, led an impressive Colts 2012 draft class that also included receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.

Grigson's obsessive, always-needing-to-be-working mindset is in high gear because the Colts are in position to take another step in the AFC next season. Manning and New England's Tom Brady are a year older and moving another step toward the Hall of the Fame.

Now it's up to Grigson to add the proper pieces around Luck. This is the perfect time for the general manager to redeem himself after his 2013 offseason moves didn't live up to expectations.

"No matter the circumstances, the last two years we expected to be in the Super Bowl and believed in that goal until the last tick came off the clock," Grigson said. "Year 3 will be no different; we just have to find a way to see it all the way through."

Indianapolis went into free agency on Tuesday with the fifth-most salary cap space.

Just like in Green Bay, players want to play in Indianapolis despite the small-market mentality some have about the city.

Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who the Colts signed to a four-year deal on March 6, was attracted to the franchise's history of success. That's understandable after he spent his first eight years in Cleveland, where that organization appears to be just spinning in circles.

Pagano is more than a coach to the players. He's the person who will ask a player about his off-the-field life nearly as much as he talks about offensive and defensive schemes.

"Having a sitdown dinner with him, I knew right away he was a good guy," Jackson said. "We barely talked football. Any time you can do that, you know you're dealing with a good guy. He's been through a lot in his life, obviously. The guy is high on life and I want to be around people like that."

Luck's arm, legs, smarts and mental toughness are the main reasons why the transition from the Manning era hasn't been too turbulent. It's also why Indianapolis is an organization that will remain a destination for free agents as long as the kid from Stanford is taking the snaps from center.

Former New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks has already publicly talked about wanting to catch passes from Luck.

"First of all, winning makes you an attractive team," punter Pat McAfee said. "But I think the chance to hitch your wagon to an up-and-coming, hopefully Hall of Fame quarterback, which [Luck] should be, I think that's a big deal for a lot of the older guys that are looking for a ring, or maybe for the younger guys that are trying to jump-start their career. I think Indianapolis is becoming a very, very promising-looking destination for a lot people who want to win and hitch their wagon to a player who's going to be great for a very long time."

INDIANAPOLIS -- You can look at the Indianapolis Colts re-signing running back Ahmad Bradshaw to a one-year contract in a number of different ways.
  • The Colts are determined to have the power running game offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton wanted last season.
  • Bradshaw
    The Colts need assurance in case Trent Richardson struggles again next season.
  • The Colts need assurance just in case Vick Ballard doesn't regain his form after tearing his ACL early last season.
  • The Colts simply want to have a lot of competition for carries in the backfield next season.
  • Former first-round pick Donald Brown won't be back.

I'm going with all five.

You would like to think Richardson will look like the running back the Colts envisioned when they acquired him Cleveland last September. You would like to think that Ballard will get back to being the player that rushed for 814 yards during his rookie season in 2012. You would like to think Bradshaw can stay injury free.

If, and I mean a big if at this moment, all three players are effective, the Colts will have a nice trio in the backfield. Competition for playing time will also be intriguing. Only time will tell if those things will happen.

“It's the best players play,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said last month at the scouting combine. “Iron sharpens iron. We're still going to beat the drum on that. You guys will get tired of hearing that, but that's just how we roll and how our head coach rolls. We're going to try to have the most competition at each position group and whoever wins that spot is going to be the starter and it's who is going to get us to that next level, which is Super Bowl XLIX and that's the mindset. You're either all in or all out.”

Bradshaw seemed to be a longshot to return to the Colts at the end of last season. But the two sides started having conversations in recent weeks leading up to the start of free agency.

Bradshaw was limited to only three games last season because of a neck injury that caused him to have surgery. It only took those three games for him to be the Colts' most effective running back. His 95 yards against San Francisco in Week 3 were the most yards by a Colts' running back in a game last season.

I talked to Bradshaw in the locker room late in the season and he said he felt good enough to play. That obviously wasn't possible at the time because he was already on the injured reserve list.

Now he's back and ready to compete for carries in the backfield.
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Vontae Davis had to his due diligence and listen to other teams.

But deep down inside Davis knew he wanted to return to the Indianapolis Colts. Davis knew the Colts were more than just a football team that practiced together and took the field together on Sundays. There's a brotherhood inside the organization, the kind Davis didn't have in his three seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

That's why brotherhood -- and a whole lot of money -- brought Davis back to the Colts. He agreed to a four-year, $39 million contract that included $20 million guaranteed.

“I hate for it to be the business side,” Davis said. “If there wasn't a business side of football and it wasn't about business, I would still choose to be back with the Colts. So that just says a lot about how strong the organization is. My teammates are like brothers. It's a brotherhood. When you go to the Colts, it's something that you hold with you for the rest of your life.”

Davis was the primary target for the Colts when it came to re-signing their own players. He has the talent to be one of the top cornerbacks in the league. It's simply a matter of putting it all together and avoiding lapses in his play.

“He is a rare talent at 25 years of age who is still ascending as a player,” Colts GM Ryan Grigson said. “We are excited to see him reach new heights in his career and help us attain our ultimate goal.”

The Colts showed their faith in Davis by giving him such a lucrative deal. It's said with money comes pressure.

Not so, Davis said.

"You can't let it impact (your play)," he said. "If I was making a dollar, it wouldn't matter. You just have to go out there and play. The organization has trust in me enough to obviously bring me back. I just have to continue to work hard and I think everything will work out for itself.”

The Colts had a solid tandem at cornerback with Davis and Greg Toler -- when he was healthy -- last season. Davis fed off of Toler's aggressive approach. Davis' best game was against the Denver Broncos when he had five tackles and two passes defended. He was so worked up that he referred to Peyton Manning as New England's Tom Brady in a postgame interview on the field.

Davis joined linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, defensive lineman Arthur Jones and safety/special teams ace Sergio Brown as defensive players the Colts signed on the first day of free agency.

“Every team, coming into the season is a new year,” Davis said. “We have to come in and work hard to get back to where we were at last year. I think just moving forward, coach (Chuck) Pagano, Grigson, they're doing a great job of building this team up.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson is not playing around when it comes to trying to improve the front seven of their defense.

Jones
Jones
It started with the signing of former Cleveland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson last week, and it continued when the Colts announced the signing of defensive lineman Arthur Jones less than 45 minutes into the start of the free-agency period Tuesday.

“He is an outstanding producer down after down versus the run and pass,” Grigson said. “He's a guy who plays at a championship level week after week and lays it on the line every time he steps out on the field. He is a great fit for our team.”

The Colts had to do something with their defense. While they had their moments last season, they lacked the consistency needed to make a deep run in the AFC playoffs. They were 20th in the league on defense and even worse when it came to stopping the run (26th).

Here's what former Colts GM Bill Polian said about Jones.

“A power player with great size, he proved difficult to move in the run game. He's well-suited to play end in a 3-4 or tackle in the an even front, but Jones should be taken off the field in clear throwing downs.”

Colts coach Chuck Pagano is familiar with Jones. Pagano was the Baltimore Ravens' defensive coordinator during Jones' rookie season in 2011.

Jones can play defensive end and defensive tackle. The Colts need help at defensive tackle after Aubrayo Franklin and Josh Chapman combined for only 44 tackles and no sacks last season. Jones finished with 53 tackles and four sacks last season.

The Colts continue to improve in the front seven, but they're in need of a new starting safety, as Antoine Bethea, who started every game he played in during his eight-year career with Indianapolis, signed with the 49ers Tuesday.

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