Colts are positioning themselves to be big spenders in free agency

INDIANAPOLIS -- The bad news is the Indianapolis Colts released defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois on Monday, a player they signed as part of the 2013 free-agent class who hasn't lived up to expectations. The good news is the Colts are positioning themselves to make a splash once free agency opens on March 10.

The release of Francois and safety LaRon Landry was expected. Colts general manager Ryan Grigson may not be done releasing players, either. Guard Donald Thomas has played just two games the past two seasons because of injuries. The Colts could save $3.25 million against the cap by releasing him.

The Colts are adding an additional $4.875 million in salary-cap space by releasing Francois. They should have about $40 million in salary-cap space to use in free agency.

"I think you have to be aggressive no matter what avenue you are going down to acquire players," Grigson said last week at the combine. "But you can't just do it for the sake of being aggressive and just get a name, or whomever. It has to be a name that you collectively feel will better your team. You don't always bat a thousand obviously. It's a case-by-case basis with each position group, but again, at each spot we are going to try and get guys that play at championship level."

Indianapolis will need as much money as possible to work with. For a team that reached the AFC Championship Game last season, it has a number of holes to fill.

The Colts need two starting safeties, a pass-rusher, bodies on the defensive line, a starting running back and depth at receiver.

Indianapolis only has four defensive linemen under contract: Art Jones, Montori Hughes, Zach Kerr and Josh Chapman. Veteran Cory Redding is a free agent and hasn't decided if he'll continue playing.

The Colts were one victory away from reaching the Super Bowl and the last thing they want to do is waste away quarterback Andrew Luck's talent with mediocre players on the roster.

"We've taken a significant step every year," Grigson said last week at the combine. "Our bottom line is what our bottom line is. Can we get better? Sure we can. We've made a significant stride every year getting closer to our ultimate goal. That was our ultimate goal in 2012, believe it or not. Like I've said many times, I don't know why you get out of bed in the morning and work these jobs in this league if you don't have that belief that you can win it all. I'd hate to be in that situation. So that's our goal and that's what we're trying to do every day, and every move we make has that in mind."