With the offseason officially under way, Around the League will examine what's next for all 32 teams. Today, we look at the Indianapolis Colts.
The 2012 season was the big change for the Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, Gary Brackett and Joseph Addai each left while Andrew Luck, Vick Ballard, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, Samson Satele, Cory Redding and Vontae Davis were brought in. Owner Jim Irsay hired a new general manager and coach.
The major change in 2013 will feature the offensive coordinator. The Arizona Cardinals hired NFL Coach of the Year Bruce Arians to take the position vacated by the fired Ken Whisenhunt, so the Colts hired Pep Hamilton to oversee the offense.
It usually isn't a good thing to replace a rookie quarterback's coordinator at season's end, but Hamilton coached Luck at Stanford. The change comes with Hamilton's version of the West Coast offense. Arians was more fond of pushing the ball downfield.
Biggest free agents
» DE Dwight Freeney: The franchise's all-time leader in sacks is past his prime and doesn't fit into defensive coordinator Greg Manusky's 3-4 system. The Colts won't be bringing him back in 2013.
» OT Winston Justice: They have to protect Luck and the Colts allowed the ninth-most sacks in 2012. The question is: How did Justice grade out?
» P Pat McAfee: McAfee was one of the best punters in the NFL in 2012. Also a fan favorite, the Colts should work out an extension.
» Other key free agents: WR Austin Collie (will not return), DT Fili Moala, WR Donnie Avery, LB Moise Fokou, CB Cassius Vaughn (restricted).
What the Colts need
The Colts' offense is poised to shine for years with Luck under center. It has to protect him better, and help should come via the draft or free agency. The defense needs to catch up, and that starts with rushing the passer. The Colts ranked No. 23 on the season with 32 sacks. The 3-4 is designed to create havoc up front, but it needs a Clay Matthews/Terrell Suggs/James Harrison/DeMarcus Ware-type linebacker. At the same time, improved cornerback play will allow for more aggression from the front seven.
Offseason crystal ball
The Colts are $43.1 million under the salary cap in 2013, so they have plenty of loot to play with. Freeney probably is gone -- he just doesn't fit into the system. Pass rush and pass protection will get new bodies. They better be the right bodies if general manager Ryan Grigson takes a risk and hands out a lot of cash.
The franchise also needs to think about an eventual successor for wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe are the big-name unrestricted free agents at the position.