INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts will hold their mandatory three-day minicamp this week, starting Tuesday, ahead of the start of training camp next month. The minicamp signals the end of the least enthusiastic offseason of the general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano era.
Don’t be discouraged, though. This is the type of offseason the Colts envisioned. They said from the start that they weren’t going to be major players. That honor went to the other three teams in the AFC South. Houston, Tennessee and Jacksonville each made moves that should make them better. Houston signed quarterback Brock Osweiler. Tennessee traded for running back DeMarco Murray. Jacksonville had a strong free-agency period and draft. The Colts’ most significant free-agent signing was cornerback Patrick Robinson, who is expected to start with Pro Bowler Vontae Davis.
The lack of movement caused ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando to give the Colts just an average grade in his annual assessment of each team’s offseason.
But the focus of Grigson, Pagano and owner Jim Irsay shifted to developing the roster from the inside, which is why they used four of eight draft picks on offensive linemen instead of chasing one on the free-agent market.
This is a vastly different approach for Grigson. The 2013, 2014 and 2015 offseasons were full of aggressive free-agent signings. It’s well documented how many of those signings worked out for the Colts.
Still, here’s a quick refresher, in case you forgot:
Offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus, safety LaRon Landry, offensive lineman Donald Thomas, defensive lineman Arthur Jones, offensive lineman Todd Herremans and receiver Andre Johnson all are players who didn’t work out or haven’t worked out so far for Indianapolis.
The Colts will have a chance to win each week as long as Andrew Luck, who missed nine games last season, stays clean by not taking a lot of hits. That’s why the focus was shifted on using half of their eight picks on offensive linemen. The Colts also want to build their roster through the draft to try to avoid as many of the pitfalls of signing outside free agents as possible.
“Our division continues to improve immensely and it’s an obvious thing,” Irsay said. “You guys can track how high our division foes have been picking in drafts over the last five to eight years, and that is going to accumulate talent. But I do feel that (we can be in the mix) with a healthy Andrew Luck hitting his stride in his prime, with the coaching changes we’ve made, with some of the veteran leadership we still have on this football team really which is in all areas of our football team to go [along] with the youth.”