Rumors: Andre Johnson to Colts

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Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole has reported that Texans wide out Andre Johnson and the Indianapolis Colts have shown mutual interest.

Cole stated that Johnson prefers to be cut, and look to negotiate the best deal possible; but a trade is still possible. After all the Texans want to get something out of him before he goes.

Johnson is due $10 million next season, but want to seek more if he is cut.

The Colts would likely send some draft picks to Houston in exchange for Johnson’s services. This would be beneficial to both teams, although the Colts would then only have around $34 million in cap space. Which is still quite a bit, but if Grigson intends to target players like Pernell McPhee and Demarco Murray, he needs top save money for those more important possible signs.

The Colts main needs are in the rushing game and on the defensive line, so this move wouldn’t exactly be what the Colts need. But it does present an interesting precedent, and would help receivers Donte Moncrief and Duron Carter develop.

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Colts Release Ricky Jean-Francois

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The Colts have released defensive tackle, Ricky Jean Francois

Jean-Francois was due $5.5 million dollars next season, and was 2 seasons into a 4 year deal. The reason for his release was not conduct related at all. In fact he was an upstanding teammate, and was loved by many journalists, as one of the “most quotable” athletes they’ve seen. This was purely a business decision.

This will save the Colts $4.875 million in cap space, and clears room for free agents. His production was far below what his salary was. He recorded 5.5 sacks in 2 seasons with Indy, but got a large chunk of playing time at 60.6%. Mostly because Arthur Jones was battling injuries all season.

With the release of Jean-Francois, the defensive line grows thin. Especially if defensive end Cory Redding retires. But this is likely a sign of things to come. The Colts probably will look to free agency for some help, and it wont be hard to find at a discount price. This 2015, many defensive lineman are available.

In my last article ‘Colts Top  Offseason Moves”, I suggested they release Jean-Francois and the sign a better defensive tackle. Terrance Knighton, B.J. Raji, and Nick Fairley are possible suitors. The Colts now have around $50 million to spend in free agency; and with more players to possibly be released, cap space could grow larger.

With the release of players Ricky Jean-Francois and Laron Landry, Ryan Grigson is likely preparing for a big free agent sign. NFL free agency opens March 12th.

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Colts Top Offseason Priorities

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(Photo Via Zimbio)

The Colts have many priorities this offseason. They still have many positions to fill, on both offense and defense; and will look to do those through the draft and free agency. Here are some moves I hope they can get done.

1. Resign Darius Butler: On the depth chart, Darius Butler is in the number three corner spot, but on the field he is much more. As the Colts nickelback, he plays a key role in covering teams slot receivers. He goes unrecognized by many fans, but is vital to the Colts press-man defense. Butler is a very disruptive player at the nickel, and follows the other Colts corners in being a very physical player. His annual salary in 2014, was $2.5 million, (via Over the Cap), and a new contract wouldn’t be much more expensive. If the Colts aren’t able to resign him, there is a big drop off. The next man up is Josh Gordy, who played 277 snaps in 2014. He has a hard time covering slot receivers, and would be a downgrade at the third corner spot. The Colts haven’t mentioned wanting to resign him, but it seems likely to happen due to his performance last season.

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Pacers Trade Options

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With the trade deadline approaching in a week, and the Pacers ready to make a run at the playoffs; Larry Bird will be searching far and wide for mid-season acquisitions.

The Pacers stand in an odd position. They have a competitive roster, but really need some young blood for the future. So they could either trade vets for draft picks and think towards next season, or look to bolster the roster with bench players.

Either way I think Bird finds some sort of deal to put the Pacers in their best position moving forward. However, it is very unlikely he surrenders a 1st rounder for anyone, but most players are up for grabs for the right price. The right price for veterans like Roy Hibbert and David West would be first round picks, and then some. Some trade scenarios have been discussed and I’ll be going over some possible options for Indiana fans to look as the deadline fast approaches.

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Goran Dragic, Anthony Davis

Scenario 1: Recently, the Phoenix Suns have placed Goran Dragic on the trade block. They say they’re looking for draft picks, but probably would accept some veteran help if offered. Early last season, Larry Bird offered Roy Hibbert and a 1st round pick for Dragic but the Suns declined. This time around David West would be a more intriguing offer. In this case, the Suns would receive West and a second round pick in exchange for Dragic, and to make the money work throw in ex-Pacer Miles Plumlee. However, Phoenix might not be enticed by this and could demand a 1st rounder; which would complicate things. But if the Suns really want to make a run at the playoffs, they should at least consider working out a deal of this manner. If the Pacers threw in a first round pick, the Suns would be far more likely to pull the trigger. This trade makes sense, because Bird has always loved the talent of Dragic, and has tried to acquire him the past many times so now that he is available, there is no telling what he might offer.

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Scenario 2: Ever since Rajon Rondo has arrived in Dallas, things have not gone very well. He hasn’t jelled with other players and it has caused team production to slow down, particularly on the offensive end. His numbers are slightly down at 8.7 points per game, and team chemistry is taking longer than expected to form. Another Rondo trade has not been discussed, but if the Mavericks feel that the roster would be better without him; options are still out there. Since Brandon Wright was sent over to Boston in the Rondo trade, the Mavs have been weak in the front court. Indiana could help them fix this problem if the right deal is agreed upon. David West has a similar salary to Rondo, and could be beneficial for Dallas if they thought they needed more help off the bench, which they most likely will come playoff time. Although this trade is not likely, it still would benefit both teams. I say, why not?

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Scenario 3: The Oklahoma City Thunder have always had one missing piece. A center. Although
Steven Addams has emerged as the starter, he still has some developing to do. In an ideal trade for both teams would include the Pacers sending Hibbert to OKC for Kendrick Perkins and Reggie Jackson; with possible implications of a draft pick. The benefits for both teams would be very balanced. The Thunder can finally shred Perkins awful contract, and get the center they need. With a front court of Ibaka and Hibbert, entering the lane would be near impossible. The Pacers would recieve a much needed point guard who can create his own shot, and would free up cap space, with Perkins gone that next off season. Prior to the trade, salary caps for both teams stay about the same.

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Scenario 4: Recent talks indicate that the Raptors have some interest in trading for David West (reported story here). The problem is they are not willing to give up much for him. So, how can they expect to get something in return? Not sure. If they did however want to throw in a future first round pick, then West is theirs. To make the money work they would need to throw in Amir Johnson and Landry Fields, who both have one year left on their current deals. It’s not likely that this deal goes down, but nonetheless, it would be interesting. David West has averaged 13.1 points and 7.1 rebounds this season.

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2015 Daytona 500 Promo

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Colts Release Laron Landry, Among Others

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(Picture via Bleacher Report/USA Today)

The Colts have released three players including safety Laron Landry. This likely due to the four game suspension assessed earlier in the year, for PED use. The Colts will save about $2.2 million dollars with his release.

Landry never showed that he liked playing for Indy, and never jelled well with the other players. He was the odd ball of the team in a sense. Plus with the rise of former special teams player Sergio Brown, Landry just wasn’t an asset worth keeping. Landry become inefficient against the pass and lost his job to Brown after the suspension. This saves the Colts money and opens up a roster spot.

Indy also released linebacker Andrew Jackson. Which makes sense, considering the two arrests in the last nine months. Jackson didn’t play much on the defensive end, but was used in special run packages as a fullback. The Colts picked him last year in the 6th round out of Western Kentucky, with hopes he could develop; but he just couldn’t stay out of trouble.

The third player released, was offensive lineman Xavier Nixon; who just never played well. Ever. This is just to make room for this years draft picks, and other possible free agents.

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Article couresty of ABC 7 News in Chicago

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Colts Mock Draft 2015, Rounds 1-3

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The Colts have an important draft this year. Well of course every draft is important, but they have to go out and find pieces to help Luck to make a legit run at a superbowl.

1st Round: In the first round the Colts need to find another pass rusher who is going o help Jonathan Newsome get after the quarterback. They have many options positionally, but with Cory Redding likely to retire and Robert Mathis headed out the door in the next few years. I think the should go with defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa. He’s a big body at 6’4″ 266 pounds and possess the strength and power needed to develop into a great pass rusher. He has solid power moves, but doesn’t possess great finesse moves yet, but those things can be taught. With future hall of fame pass rusher Robert Mathis back for a year, I thin he could really help Odighizuwa grow. Although he has had 2 hip surgery’s and that will require some medical checks, but if everything looks good; he’ll make a solid edition to the defense.

2nd Round: Indy badly needs a consistent run game to help take some weight off of Andrew Luck’s shoulders. They have quite a few options at running back in the draft, but in the second round Tevin Coleman stands out. He has the perfect running back body, slim with a muscular build, and solid strength. He can beat with both his speed and his trucking ability. At Indiana he averaged 7.5 yards a carry and finished 2nd in the FBS with 2,036 rushing yards. He showed great talent in the open field, and beat defensive backs for long plays with ease. He’ll be an almost instant impact sort of player, and can help balance the Colts offense well. The Colts will be getting a bargain for him in the second round.

3rd Round: One of the Colts biggest question marks going into next season is safety. With Laron Landry likely to be cut, Mike Adams close to retirement and Sergio Brown being inconsistent. They need to draft a safety who can help corners Vontae Davis and Greg Toler next season. They’ll find exactly that in Derron Smith out of Fresno State. He has solid awareness of receivers and can play in man coverage well. Which is perfect for the Colts, considering they run man defense almost always. He is a little undersized at 5’11” and isn’t a great tackler; but still has potential to make plays on a consistent basis.

Overall those players seem like great options that help the Colts fill voids in the offense and defense. Although isn’t likely that GM Ryan Grigson drafts them all, he will likely find some better options. This is just speculation, and speculation is extremely fun when it comes to future players.

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Spurs End Pacers Streak

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The Pacers just fell short of spoiling Indiana native Greg Popovich of his 1,000th NBA win. The game was close most of the way through, then in the third, the Pacers went for a 34 point quarter and held a significant lead till later in the 4th. Even though the Pacers played very well, they were missing something. It was their superstar, Paul George.

Down the stretch the Pacers had a difficult time scoring in crunch time, and standing up defensively to San Antonio. In the end Kawhi Leonard made a game winning play, driving right past David West, dishing it to sharpshooter Bellinelli. Who stepped past a quick to challenge Rodney Stuckey, then drilled the jumper to give them the lead.

George Hill (the Pacers recent savior) got the last shot, and just missed on an open three.

The Pacers had a nice little 3 game streak and showed that they can compete still, with the help of hometown hero George Hill. But with the absence of Paul George, they really wont be able to keep consistent and reach for a decent playoff seed.

I see the Pacers making a run at the playoffs, with the possibility of reaching the 8th seed. But is it best for them? No.

Sure they’ve shown a spark we haven’t seen since the win over Miami on the road many weeks ago, but the problem is consistent play and health. The Pacers haven’t gone a game without someone being sidelined with injury. Right now its Pacers center Ian Mahinmi. Who has been dearly missed off the bench and it shows. For instance tonight Shayne Whittington had trouble guarding Boris Diaw and Aaron Baynes, who Ian easily could’ve handled tonight.

As a fan of course I want the Pacers to win; but the Pacers also need to think about the future, and surrounding Paul George with better players. This would entail aquiring a better draft pick, and considering the Pacers don’t exactly posses a lot of high value assets to trade; they need to lose.

As much as Larry Bird wants the Pacers to win, he also wants first round draft picks. He understands and knows they need to get younger, and he will do exactly that in these coming weeks.

The Pacers will be facing off against the New Orleans Pelicans this Wednesday at the Smoothie King Center. Its always nice to see how the Hibbert Vs. Davis block party pans out. Should be a solid game, from two teams in similar situations.

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George Hill the Key for Pacers

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NBA: Denver Nuggets at Indiana Pacers

Last night the Pacers pulled off a very impressive win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Although it was a fantastic team effort on both ends, George Hill was the reason they won. Late in the game with the Pacers down 92-94, Hill came off a Hibbert screen, was held by Kyrie Irving on one hand, the other he threw up a wild 3 to give Indiana the lead. Later on he had a steal in crunch time and made 2 free throws to ice the game.

Hill finished with 20 points and 7 assists. Some help the Pacers could use every night. Hill brings something the other Pacers point guards just don’t have; defense and length. Even though he’s not technically a true point guard and isn’t a traditional assist-man; he still moves the ball enough to keep the offense flowing and 3’s going.

Larry Bird has the expectations that this team will make the playoffs. Even though the Pacers sit at 19-32, with players returning from injury and the team jelling together; a possible run makes sense. If the Pacers don’t make the playoffs, they’ll get a solid lottery pick, which would be more ideal; but nonetheless Kevin Pritchard and Larry Bird want to win.

Although something tells me the Pacers will need some more help if they really want to make a push. They’ll need some sort of trade or a possible late return of Paul George to push them through to the other side.

Tonight the Pacers will face off against a Charlotte team that has finally hit its stride after a rough start. They’ll yet again need another strong game from George Hill to start a streak. This will be a true test on the road, to gauge if this Pacers team really has what it takes to make a playoff run.

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