INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson is sliding all his chips to the middle of the table to make a run at Super Bowl next season.
Grigson has no choice but to go all in because that's the next step for the Colts after losing to New England in the AFC Championship Game last season. What that 38-point loss to Patriots showed was the Colts couldn't be satisfied with making minor moves to improve the roster.
It was going to take more than that.
"Our bottom line is what our bottom line is,” Grigson said last month at the NFL scouting combine. "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.”
Grigson has stuck to his word about being aggressive. He went out and signed running back Frank Gore and linebacker Trent Cole, both proven veterans, on Tuesday. You can expect Grigson and owner Jim Irsay to make every effort to sign veteran receiver Andre Johnson once they sit down with him.
Irsay didn't send his private jet to Florida to pick up Johnson and Gore so that they could come to Indianapolis for some of the famous shrimp cocktail sauce at St. Elmo's steakhouse. Irsay and Grigson have every intention of finalizing a deal with the former Houston Texans receiver.
Gore, Johnson and Cole are all at least 31 years old, but they're worth the risk when the Super Bowl is within reach.
All Irsay and Grigson have to do is mention three words when giving their pitch to Johnson or any other free agent: quarterback Andrew Luck.
Luck proved that he knows how to win with mediocre talent during his first three years in the NFL, taking a step further in the playoffs in each of his three seasons.
Now we're about to see how far Luck can take the Colts with a better supporting cast.
"I'm extremely hungry," newly signed defensive lineman Kendall Langford said. "I think that's one of the reasons that drove me here. Andrew Luck is one of the great ones, and I'm excited about it.”
The Colts went into the offseason with a long checklist. In a matter of hours on Tuesday, they addressed some of their glaring holes on the roster.
Pass-rusher? Check. Cole has 85.5 sacks in his career. The hope is that Cole will team with Robert Mathis, who is coming off a torn Achilles, and Jonathan Newsome, who led Colts with 6.5 sacks last season, to force opposing quarterbacks to have to pay attention to where the pass-rushers are lined up on every snap.
Safety? Indianapolis took care of one its two vacant spots by re-signing Pro Bowler Mike Adams.
Defensive line help? They got help there, too, signing Langford, a 6-foot-6, 313-pound lineman. Langford's ability to swallow up the run is necessary on a team that has given up an average of 219 yards rushing a game in its past three contests against the Patriots.
Running back? Gore has been productive -- eight 1,000-yard rushing seasons -- and he has played in all 16 games in each of the past four seasons during his 10-year career. And remember, Luck is still the focal point of the offense that finished third overall in the NFL last season. Gore -- and possibly Johnson -- is another piece to an offensive unit that features receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.
The Patriots will always be a threat as long as Bill Belichick is the coach there. They've won three consecutive games over Indianapolis by an average of 27 points. But the opportunity to close the gap is there for the Colts, especially with Darrelle Revis signing with the Jets, the uncertain future of cornerback Brandon Browner and the loss of mammoth defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.
Don't believe for a second that Grigson is done making moves. The Colts still need another starting safety, more depth at receiver and some more help on the defensive line.
The process has just started in Indianapolis, and it has been a successful start so far.