Posted March 12, 2013

Greg Toler among Indianapolis Colts’ signings on busy day

Indianapolis Colts, NFL Free Agency
Greg Toler

Greg Toler had two interceptions in 2012, one of which he returned 102 yards for a touchdown — a Cardinals’ franchise record. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Gosder Cherilus, Donald Thomas, Greg Toler and Erik Walden all agreed to contracts with the Indianapolis Colts, capping a hectic first two hours of free agency for that franchise.

Let’s start at the beginning …

Cherilus started 70 games during his four-year career in Detroit, stepping up last season to become a very reliable right tackle. The Colts needed to upgrade their line, given how much they’re committed to Andrew Luck. Cherilus fits the bill, though he’s coming off knee surgery, so he’ll need to get back to 100 percent. If he does, he’ll slot right in as a starter.

Thomas may wind up one of the most underrated signings of the free-agent period — fitting, because he was one of the more underrated players on the market. The 27-year-old Thomas can play any position on the interior line, so the Colts will be able to make their pick. Left guard might be the best bet.

Toler has been unable to stay healthy — he missed four games last season and the entirety of the 2011 season. When he was on the field in 2012, though, he looked the part of a solid cornerback. The Colts finished 23rd in passing yards allowed last, so Toler’s presence will allow them to shore up that part of their defense. At a reported three years and $15 million, Toler’s contract is very reasonable.

Walden’s contract, a reported four years at $16 million total, was a head-scratcher. Walden rated as easily the worst Packers defender on Pro Football Focus last season, far behind Dezman Moses and Jerel Worthy. The Colts, though, paid him as if they plan to start him at outside linebacker, with Robert Mathis on the other side.

It was a huge day for the Colts. And one that could get even more impactful if Cliff Avril winds up with Indianapolis.

Grade for Cherilus signing: B-minus. Was 2012 just the result of a player in a contract year? Cherilus caused plenty of headaches for the Lions up front, so we’ll have to see if he can maintain his pace. I dropped this from a B to B-minus at the revelation of Cherilus’ contract — a reported five years, $34 million with a $10 million bonus.

Grade for Thomas signing: A. Love this one. Thomas provides depth and ability up front.

Grade for Toler signing: B-plus. Pending Toler’s health, the Colts might end up really loving this cap-friendly contract.

Grade for Walden signing: D. I’m sure the Colts believe in Walden’s abilities, but the financial commitment to a player who’s been subpar at best was staggering.

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