In January, Bill Polian indicated that the Colts had developed strategies to address each of four possible outcomes pending the CBA negotiations: (1) a CBA is agreed before Friday; (2) a CBA is agreed after Friday, with a short work stoppage; (3) a CBA is agreed after Friday, but with a long work stoppage; and (4) a decision is made to operate under an undefined “set of rules.” By tomorrow night at midnight, we will know whether #1 is no longer a possible outcome. This series examines how the Colts strategies might have been laid out in each of the scenarios.

#1 – mostly business as usual. For the Colts, business as usual means a heavy emphasis on building from within, including drafting capable players and developing them to play in their scheme. It means re-signing their own free agents, looking for gems among the UDFA ranks, and maybe looking at those who were unceremoniously released from other teams. It usually means staying out of high-profile free agency – you won’t likely see the Colts chasing someone like Nnamdi Asomugha or DeAngelo Williams.

But this year is a bit different – Polian has already been quoted twice (December Polian Corner, and via ESPN) as indicating that free agency wasn’t out of the question, in particular for the offensive line. If Polian breaks out of his norm to dive into free agency then, getting a CBA inked by Friday is the best situation for the Colts. This would allow the team to target key free agents, unrestricted or otherwise, and get one signed before the draft. It would not only add an NFL-proven lineman at a position of need, it would relieve some pressure by not requiring a drafted player to step in immediately. Some possibilities include Jermon Bushrod (Saints, RFA with 2nd round tender) or Jared Gaither (Ravens, expected to be an UFA under a new CBA). If Polian decides to go “all in,” he could also consider Willie Colon (Steelers, RFA with 1st round tender) and Doug Free (Cowboys, RFA with 1st and 3rd round tender), but their respective prices will probably be too high even for his stated interest in being aggressive.

Next up… strategy if there is a short work stoppage.