Colts GM ready to chase free agents who can help

Colts GM ready to chase free agents who can help

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Now that general manager Ryan Grigson has money to spend in free agency, he's devising a new game plan.

If he can find a big-named, high-priced free agent that could get Indianapolis to the Super Bowl, he's willing to pay top dollar. If he can find a lesser-known player for a bargain, he's willing to roll the dice, too.

Either way, Grigson finally has the flexibility to do whatever it takes to make the 2013 Colts better than they were last season.

``I don't have to rub two nickels together to find a key position. Now, if there's something that I really want that I feel is going to get us over the hump in a certain area, I could at least take a crack at him,'' Grigson told a small group of reporters Tuesday at the team complex. ``I feel almost in a sense like I don't want to go after a name just because that's easy. There's guys out there, that to me, that if you really scout this league and you really know this league, you can find guys that are under the radar that are right under people's noses, just because you dig a little harder and you have a better feel for some guys than the next team does.''

It's a far cry from the financial mess Grigson inherited when team owner Jim Irsay hired him last January.

Indy wound up releasing Peyton Manning, cutting a handful of other fan favorites and letting several other key contributors leave in free agency just to scrape enough money together to start rebuilding. Then Grigson had to go bargain-shopping to fill in the gaps, all the while looking ahead to Year 2 as the season Indy could make the big jump.

Somehow, though, Grigson cobbled together a unit that went 11-5 and wound up in the playoffs.

Now, he's going back to work with an opportunity to give Andrew Luck & Co. more talent. Indy heads into this offseason with 58 players already signed to contracts and more than $40 million available under a salary cap that is expected to come in at about $121 million

With that much available room, Grigson can go after almost any player he covets in free agency - even if he's not ready to say what he'll do.

Grigson declined to identify specific plans, players or areas he hopes to improve in free agency though it is widely believed the two areas Indy will try to upgrade are the offensive line, which allowed 41 sacks, and a secondary that continually gave up 100-yard games to receivers throughout the second half of the season.

``Andrew has to get hit less, we know that,'' said Grigson, a former offensive lineman. ``Andrew took a lot of shots this year but also keep this in mind, and I say this with a lot of conviction, there was only I believe four games this year where our starting offensive line played together. How can you have a cohesive unit?''

The list of offensive tackles that could be available in free agency includes Jermon Bushrod, Ryan Clady, Jake Long and Andre Smith. Cornerbacks such as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Cary Williams also could become free agents.

Grigson always has the draft, too, something that seems to be looking better by the week.

On Tuesday, Grigson acknowledged that the Colts will keep two conditional picks they originally traded to Philadelphia and Miami during the preseason, and that he's hoping to get some additional supplemental picks, after losing Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, Jeff Saturday and Jacob Tamme in free agency last year.

That's not all.

Grigson also confirmed that the Colts are in strong pursuit of 300-pound defensive tackle Armond Armstead, who has been playing in the Canadian Football League.

``He was here on a visit, he's a talented guy, I feel he fits this defense nice and had some versatility with this defense,'' Grigson said.

Irsay is content to let Grigson do pretty much whatever he deems necessary to make Indy a Super Bowl contender.

``It's going to be an exciting offseason,'' Irsay said. ``Ryan really understands how in putting a team together you don't just go to the board and pick a player. He has a naturally intuitive ability to see how all the components come together and complement each other.''

And for Grigson, who is still trying to figure out whether Bruce Arians will be back as offensive coordinator and who will coach special teams next season, he can't wait to get started on what could be Indy's biggest move into free agency in years.

``I feel confident that we are going to be able to sign some guys that may not be household names, but they are going to fit really well, they are going to play Colts football for 60 minutes and they are going to do their job at a high level, despite not being maybe that splash name,'' Grigson said.

Ravens CB Jimmy Smith having surgery to remove screws from foot

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Ravens CB Jimmy Smith having surgery to remove screws from foot

Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith is scheduled to have surgery this weekend to have screws removed from the right foot he injured in 2014, according to the Baltimore Sun, and confirmed by CSN. The Ravens hope Smith will be ready for the start of training camp in late July, and the expected timetable for recovery is four to six weeks.

Smith was never 100 percent last season, but played through pain and discomfort, after suffering his Lisfranc injury in November of 2014.

“It’s definitely a difficult injury, kind of more than I expected,” Smith said earlier this month at the start of the Ravens’ offseason training program. “It’s very…you can live with it, you can play with it. Obviously, I played with it last year – not at the level that I expected myself to – but I think I’ll be better this year.”

The Ravens were already in the market for cornerbacks, and that will not change when the draft resumes Friday night. Despite re-signing Shareece Wright and getting Kyle Arrington to restructure his contract, the starting cornerback spot opposite Smith is open, and the Ravens need more depth there, especially with Lardarius Webb moving from corner to safety.

 

 

Will Ravens use extra picks to make trades in NFL Draft rounds 2 and 3?

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Will Ravens use extra picks to make trades in NFL Draft rounds 2 and 3?

With eight picks remaining in the draft, including the fifth pick in the second round (No. 36 overall), the Ravens are just getting started making moves. Here are three reasons why the Ravens might make a trade Friday night during round 2 or round 3:

1. The Ravens need to strengthen their chances of getting a quality pass rusher or corner.

If the Ravens want a corner or pass rusher who can step in and contribute next season, it’s getting late. Before the draft, Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said he felt more pressure thinking about the second-round pick (No. 36) than he did the first round. The Ravens won’t sit around and wait if they sense all the players they covet slipping away. Don’t be surprised to see the Ravens trade up in either Round 2 or 3 to target a player they want. Corners still on the board include Mackensie Alexander of Clemson, Kendall Fuller of Virginia Tech, Xavien Howard of Baylor, and Cyrus Jones of Alabama. Pass rushers on the board include Kamalei Correa of Boise St. and Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky. The third round could be too late to get any of those players.

2. The chance to get UCLA inside linebacker Myles Jack makes the start of Round 2 even more fluid.

Jack is a first-round talent who is only available due to concerns about his knee. Many teams, including the Ravens, could be thinking about picking Jack, or trading up to get him.

3. If the Ravens keep all of their picks, all nine players are unlikely to make the team.

The Ravens already have a crowded roster at several positions, including running back and tight end. They will also bring in more free agents once the draft is over. It makes sense to trade a pick or two, in exchange for a player who helps them next season.

Five potential Ravens targets in the second round of the NFL Draft

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Five potential Ravens targets in the second round of the NFL Draft

The Ravens will be on the clock early again on Friday night, scheduled to pick fifth in the second round, at No.  36 overall. After taking Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley with their first pick at No. 6 overall, the Ravens could turn to the defense in the second round, and there is a lot of defensive talent still on the board.

Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said on Thursday night that the Ravens expect to get a first-round talent with their second pick.

"We love the top 36 players in this draft," DeCosta said. "So we're going to get an outstanding player. ... We're very, very confident that at 36 we're going to get a guy that we feel like is a first-round type talent."

So who might that be? Here, in alphabetical order, are a few candidates that could be in play when the Ravens are on the clock:

CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson

The Ravens couldn't trade up for Jalen Ramsey, so they remain in the market for cornerback help. Alexander has shutdown capabilities though there are concerns about his height (5-10) matching up with elite receivers on the outside. Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta predicted a run on cornerbacks between picks 25 and 40, and Alexander figures in that equation.

OLB Kamalei Correa, Boise State

An early entry to the draft, Correa had 12 sacks as a sophomore at Boise State and then seven this past season. Correa (6-3, 243) has played defensive end and linebacker but is considered best suited as an edge rusher in a 3-4 defense.

CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

Kendall is about to become the fourth Fuller brother to be drafted, and he could find his way back to his hometown Ravens. A knee injury early last season knocked Fuller out of the first round, but he's a first-round talent when healthy and would be a nice fit for the Ravens.  

LB Myles Jack, UCLA

Wait a minute, he's still around? Yes, Jack had been mentioned as a Ravens first-round pick in many mock drafts, but concerns about his knee -- which he exacerbated by mentioning the possibility of microfracture surgery -- sent him tumbling down draft boards. Still, he's a potential top-10 talent who is still available.

DE Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky

Spence is the type of edge rusher the Ravens have said they covet. He had eight sacks as a sophomore at Ohio State. But off-the-field issues remain his biggest question mark; he was booted from Ohio State because of failed drug tests and tried to boost his draft stock by transferring to Eastern Kentucky, where he recorded 11 1/2 sacks last year.