Thomas plans to test market

Updated: February 26, 2009, 4:45 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts knew the salary cap would put them in a pinch.

They were hoping it wouldn't be this difficult.

The team, already prepared for Marvin Harrison, Jeff Saturday and Hunter Smith to become free agents Friday, must now add Josh Thomas to the list.

Thomas' agent, Craig Domann, told The Associated Press on Thursday the backup defensive end and sometimes starter also plans to test the market. Domann did not elaborate.

The news came a day after the Colts officially released the record-setting Harrison to free up $6 million under the salary cap. Saturday, a three-time Pro Bowl center, turned down a recent offer even though he wanted to stay in Indianapolis. Last week, Smith's agent, Thomas Mills, acknowledged the longtime punter also would not be re-signed before free agency begins.

Now Thomas, who replaced the injured Dwight Freeney in the starting lineup during the second half of the 2007 season, is following the same course. He had a career-high three sacks in 2005 and a career-high 55 tackles in 2007.

Team president Bill Polian had warned this could be a tough offseason.

"We are being impacted by the salary cap for the first time in 11 years because of the new cap rules, and that's not something we, quite frankly, planned for," Polian said Sunday during the NFL's annual scouting combine. "As a result, we've got some issues with veterans."

Thursday's negotiations could dictate how much things will change next season.

Harrison, Saturday and Smith were three of the longest-tenured Colts on the 2008 roster. All could be with new teams within days or weeks.

Tony Dungy retired as coach in January, turning the reins over to his hand-picked successor, Jim Caldwell. The new coach has already replaced the defensive coordinator and special teams coach, and now the Colts are scrambling to work out deals with other potential free agents.

Those who are unsigned include running back Dominic Rhodes, linebackers Tyjuan Hagler and Freddy Keiaho, cornerback Keiwan Ratliff, safety Matt Giordano and offensive lineman Dan Federkeil. All have started at least once over the past two seasons.

But the Colts did take care of two other players Thursday.

They offered one-year contracts to defensive tackle Daniel Muir and running back Lance Ball, who are both restricted free agents.

Agent Anthony Paige confirmed the tender offers Thursday in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Muir played in six games last season after the Colts released former starter Ed Johnson following his arrest on a drug possession charge. The Colts claimed Muir off waivers from the Green Bay Packers last September.

Ball was signed to the Colts' practice squad in mid-October after Mike Hart suffered a season-ending knee injury. Ball was promoted to the active roster for the regular-season finale against the Tennessee Titans and had 13 carries for 83 yards.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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