When hiring a general manager, you do your evaluations, run your interviews, make a decision, and unless something jarringly bad happens in the first three years, you stick with him. That’s my general opinion of matters like this.
In 2012, the Indianapolis Colts chose Ryan Grigson as their GM, and that’s fine. They made a decision and in his first season he won Executive of the Year as the Colts went from 2-14 to 11-5 with Andrew Luck, TY Hilton, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, and Vick Ballard added through the draft, and Vontae Davis addd in trade. The division was horrible, Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider was probably more deserving (the 2012 Seahawks draft class continues to be one of the best of all-time, perhaps at least top 10), but that’s in the past and awards don’t matter.
Fast forward to a few seasons later, after Indianapolis had posted their third straight 11-5 season with a division win, and I was adamant that the Colts would be stupid to not fire Grigson and Chuck Pagano. Despite those playoff appearances, it wasn’t hard to see that Indy was weak at most positions, were winning because of the AFC South, and kept getting brutally humiliated in the playoffs. Owner Jim Irsay made no changes though until two 8-8 seasons later, and Grigson was fired while Pagano remains.
At least that’s progress.
New GM Chris Ballard, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs organization, has quite the defensive mess on his hands. Luckily, Luck is a very good quarterback and in the South, that’s enough to give them an opportunity to keep winning the division while rebuilding the defense through the draft and free agency, if Ballard proves to be better than his predecessor. That starts with letting go of most of their free agents (not many of which are interesting) and releasing old expensive players that did little to help Indy last season.
Impending Free Agents
Hugh Thornton, G
Thornton may be the only player of interest leaving the Colts this year, at least as far as the Seahawks are concerned. He’s got the size, length, and strength that could interest Seattle at guard, but he’s got an extensive injury history as well, going on IR towards the end of 2015 and missing all of 2016. Because of that, Thornton would only get a one-year, non-guaranteed deal, I imagine. He’d be low risk with high reward and we’ve seen the Seahawks try their hands at those players on the offensive line before. Indianapolis may also prioritize retaining Thornton for those reasons and he may favor them because they kept him around last year rather than outright waiving him.
Erik Walden, LB
Lorenzo Alexander got all the attention last season for having a breakout season at age 33 with the Buffalo Bills, but Walden wasn’t too far behind. The 31-year-old quietly had 11 sacks after he had recorded only 20 over his first eight seasons combined. I’m sure because of that Walden will get a nice two-year contract and that’s not something that Seattle should/will prioritize.
Robert Turbin, RB
Just because he’s a former Seahawk and one of Russell Wilson’s best friends, you’d expect some talk about Turbin’s next destination being a return to Seattle. But things were not that great for him when he was here (231 carries, zero touchdowns) and the Seahawks will probably focus their attention on running backs who are either younger or more talented. Turbin scored seven touchdowns with the Colts last season.
Others: S Mike Adams, DE/OLB Trent Cole, LB D’Qwell Jackson, CB Darius Butler, LB Chris Carter, RB Jordan Todman, TE Jack Doyle
Potential Cap Casualties
Arthur Jones, DE/DT
Patrick Robinson, CB
Kendall Langford, DE
Akeem Ayers, LB
One of Ballard’s most important jobs this offseason is to undue the horrid roster building that Grigson did on the defensive side of the ball. Not that all of these guys are bad players or were bad players to begin with, but they’re old, injured, and overpaid. Guys like D’Qwell Jackson, Trent Cole, Mike Adams also qualify there. The Colts need to replace almost every starting player on their defense. I don’t think Schneider is going to be bothered picking up Grigson’s remnants.
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