Colts need redemption for 2013 offseason

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson had every right to strut around with his chest puffed out two years ago.

His first draft class included franchise quarterback Andrew Luck to go with the likes of T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener.

The wins and continued progression in the AFC have occurred for Grigson in his first two years. The same can't be said about his offseason moves.

Colts owner Jim Irsay opened up his checkbook and gave big contracts to players such as safety LaRon Landry, linebacker Erik Walden, cornerback Greg Toler and defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois last offseason only to have some of them not live up to expectations.

Some of it was because of injury and some of it was because of poor play. Then there's Grigson's 2013 draft. The seven picks did very little to nothing at all.

"We're really optimistic for guys from last year," Grigson said during the scouting combine Friday. "Those flashes are there. We need those guys to turn those flashes into consistency, and that's all we're looking for. We need consistency and for them to be out there for 16 games, find a way."

Oh yeah, what about the in-season trade for running back Trent Richardson?

It's been a one-sided deal in favor of the Cleveland Browns so far.

Now it's time for Grigson to redeem himself.

He knows it. That's why he isn't sitting back and giving excuses for the players who haven't lived up to expectations. He also knows those players have to do better, and he knows he must have a good offseason improving the roster.

Grigson quickly answered, "Yes," when asked if he would still acquire Richardson if given the option to trade for him again. Averaging only 2.9 yards a carry and losing the starting position late in the season doesn't equal a first-round pick.

"He knows this is the NFL and it's a bottom-line business," Grigson said. "We're all on the same page. We all have expectations for Trent, and he has expectations for himself."

Luck's ability to overcome the loss of key offensive weapons and cover up the shortcomings of an inconsistent defense to lead the Colts to victories makes for a good story, but that's not what Indianapolis needs.

The franchise doesn't want a repeat of the Peyton Manning era, in which the future Hall of Famer was forced to do the majority of the work for the Colts to have a chance to win.

There are holes to fill on the offensive line and a number of areas on a defense that were more bad than good last season that need to be fixed.

The Colts not only don't have a first-round pick, they have only four picks total in the May draft.

"Looking at our draft board in the meetings we had with the scouts, it's heavy with juniors up near the top, and that's going to push down some of those seniors and push down some of those players who would have been taken higher," Grigson said. "I'm excited, and I think a lot of other general managers and coaches are excited as well, because I think this is going to be a deep draft class."

The opportunity is there for the Colts to be big spenders on the market once free agency starts next month. They'll have the second-highest salary-cap space (about $37 million). Grigson has every intention to try to re-sign cornerback Vontae Davis, but don't expect the Colts to go on one of those high-priced spending sprees just because the money is sitting there.

Indianapolis wants to improve its roster for today while also thinking about the future. The Colts will have to pay Luck a hefty salary in the coming years, and Hilton is also in line to get paid.

"It's not hard to tighten your belt when you're looking at what we're looking at in '15 and '16," Grigson said. "So we have to be very prudent and fiscally sound in how we move forward. We still have a plan in place, and if there's a chance for us to get better at any position, we're going to try to get better, if it makes sense from a fiscal standpoint for the club."