It’s that time of year again. When NFL rosters become fantasy teams for fans with a penchant for daydreams. Could you imagine if the Colts signed (insert every available free agent)? Indy would be a lock for the Super Bowl if they just (traded for supposedly available Pro Bowler de jour).
NFL free agency season is here, folks. Let the speculative madness begin.
Opinions run rampant, as fans become experts on the best way for their general manager to spend those tens of millions of dollars burning a hole in his pocket. A sampling of headlines in the past few days: “Colts need DeMarco Murray in their backfield.” “Colts should target wide receiver Andre Johnson.” “Colts absolutely should pursue safety Devin McCourty.” “Colts want to sign Ndamukong Suh.”
You have to love the certainty amid unbridled chaos. Thirty-two teams, hundreds of players, billions of dollars, and everyone knows exactly what their team should do, yet no one has the same take. It’s high-stakes hysteria, and it might just be the most entertaining couple of months in the now year-long NFL season.
Sure, the games are OK, too. But the offseason is where the action is. It makes me wonder why we even it call it the offseason. An offseason? What was that like, grandpa? Now from the moment the Super Bowl confetti is swept off the turf, we can turn our attention to college showcase games, combines, private workouts, public workouts, the draft, free agency, mini-camps, training camps and the preseason. There is no more offseason.
Football has become a parasite. Deprived of its natural environment on the gridiron, it is now forced to sustain on rumors mills, mock drafts, the speculation machine and hours of talking head conjecture. And guess what? It’s thriving.
People love it. No time of year better affords fans and media an opportunity to get in on the game they love. Monday-morning-quarterbacking is a time-honored tradition, but not every Tom, Dick and Harry can break down game tape and tell you the Colts got steamrolled because their linemen couldn’t maintain gap integrity, and the linebackers runs fits’ were off.
But anyone can go on shopping spree. We can all imagine strapping into the general manager’s chair and spending Monopoly money on superstars. It’s why fantasy sports have taken off. Making the right decision and being the smartest guy in the room is intoxicating. We feeling of control over it gives us over our favorite players and teams.
Here’s the sobering truth, though. Most people — myself included — have no idea what it takes to build a championship caliber NFL roster. Heck, plenty of former general managers have no idea. We’ve witnessed the evidence (We’re looking at you, Cleveland). But seriously, the men making these decisions are in those positions for a reason. They are experts, and as the old saying goes, they have forgotten more about football then most of us could ever hope to know.
That being said, who cares!? What fun is leaving it to the professionals? I say put on your GM hats and let the madness ensue. Dream big. Why not? Maybe your plan really could net the Colts their next Super Bowl. I know mine could.
What is my plan, you say? Well, maybe you don’t, but I’m going to tell you anyway.
For the past few seasons, the Colts have struggled to run the ball or stop the run when it mattered (aka against the Patriots). When you can’t do either of those things (against the Patriots), beating good teams (the Patriots!) becomes about 10 million times more difficult.
If I were Colts GM Ryan Grigson, my free agency motto would be, “Size matters” or, “Beef. It’s what’s for winners,” or, “Skip the clowns and bring on the pounds,” or, well, you get the idea.
Solidify the interior. Spend big bucks on big players and raid the bargain bin for skill positions. DeMarco Murray only became DeMarco Murray after the Cowboys drafted offensive linemen in the first round three of the past four years. The Lions’ defense went from bottom of the barrel to top-notch when they invested three of their past five first-round picks on the front four. Big men. Big results.
If only Grigson would email me back.