Since free agency opened March 11, front offices around the league have been busy retooling rosters and prepping for next season. Here at CSNWashington.com, we’ve been keeping a watching eye on the moves made by teams who appear on the Redskins’ 2014 schedule.
Some teams have gotten better. Others? Not so much. Let’s take a closer look:
Up today …
Opponent/location: Colts/Lucas Oil Stadium.
2013 record: 11-5 (first place in AFC South).
Arriving: WR Hakeem Nicks (Giants), C Phil Costa (Cowboys), LB D’Qwell Jackson (Browns) and DL Arthur Jones (Ravens).
Departing: S Antoine Bethea (49ers), C Samson Satele (unsigned), RB Donald Brown (Chargers), WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Steelers), G Mike McGlynn (Redskins), LB Pat Angerer (unsigned), DT Ricardo Mathews (unsigned), NT Aubrayo Franklin (unsigned) and CB Cassius Vaughn (unsigned).
Cap space remaining: $13.425 million, according to the NFLPA.
Best move thus far: Signing Nicks, 26, to a one-year $4 million contract laden with performance incentives. In 2010 and 2011, Nicks caught 76 or more passes and surpassed 1,050 yards. The Colts—and Nicks—are betting that he’ll return to form.
The bottom line: In the opening days of free agency, a pretty compelling arms race unfolded. Denver loaded up on defense, signing pass rusher DeMarcus Ware, safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Aqib Talib. New England signed cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner and brought back wide receiver Julian Edelman.
Indianapolis? The Colts also made some quality additions. Just not on the same level as Ware, Talib or Revis.
And so the question remains: can Andrew Luck and Co. challenge Peyton and the Broncos and Tom Brady and the Pats?
On offense, Hakeem Nicks gives Luck another capable pass catcher to go along with Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener. It should be noted that Wayne (ACL) and Allen (hip) are coming off serious injuries.
On defense, the Colts are hoping 30-year-old D’Qwell Jackson can revive his career after back-to-back subpar seasons with the Browns and that Arthur Jones can shore up the defensive line. Last season, Indy ranked ninth in points allowed per game (21.0).
And, of course, there’s the question no one outside of the organization can answer: How big of an impact will owner Jim Irsay’s arrest last month affect the decision-making process?
It’s hard to say exactly how much better the Colts got in free agency, if at all. But we can be virtually certain of this: the Redskins’ visit to Lucas Oil Stadium will be one of their biggest challenges in 2014, and the Luck-Robert Griffin III matchup will be one of the season’s most hyped storylines.