The Indianapolis Colts capped off what was a whirlwind of activity in free agency by signing former San Francisco defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois to a four-year, $22 million deal.
Francois originally visited Philadelphia, but left without a contract. But the Colts were able to reel him in.
“Ricky is a quick, aggressive and extremely powerful player,” Grigson said in a statement released by the team. “He has been a mainstay the last four years within a dominant NFL defense with a lot of special players. He not only has familiarity with our scheme, but he is versatile enough to play any of our defensive line positions. At 26 years old, we feel the arrow is pointing straight up and we’re looking forward to him making a big impact for us this coming season.”
After a 2012 draft that was heavy on offensive players, including Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen and receiver T.Y. Hilton, the Colts kicked off the 2013 free agency period by signing yet 2 more offensive players in Detroit right tackle Gosder Cherilus and New England guard, Donald Thomas.
But with a defense that ranked near the bottom of the league in 2012, it was only a matter of time before the focus shifted to defense. They had already added Pro Bowl safety LaRon Landry, up-and-coming cornerback Greg Toler, defensive end Lawrence Sidbury and outside linebacker Erik Walden just one day prior. The addition of Francois is another step toward transforming a traditionally undersized defense into one that is bigger and stronger.
In his first four seasons with the 49ers he totaled 22 tackles and two sacks. He posted a career-high 51 tackles and two sacks for the 49ers last season and added 5 defensive stops in the post-season.
Ryan Grigson has said all along that his focus was on avoiding older, big-name players with inflated salary demands, opting instead for younger, up-and-coming talent that is a better fit for the organization. Adding Francois was yet another example of a solid pickup that didn’t break the bank.
In His Own Words
In an interview with Colts.com’s Jeffery Gorman Francois said, “It’s crazy. It’s like a dream come true, now playing for the Indianapolis Colts. It’s a first-class organization, an organization that’s building itself back up, and I’m happy to be a part of it. And you know, we’re going to try to bring that Lombardi trophy back here again.
Regarding the meeting he had with head coach Chuck Pagano he said, “It was great. I didn’t know he was a coach down in Miami. It was great talking to him. And you know, it’s like when you talk to him, everything he says he says with a passion. And you don’t meet too many people like that. It was like I already knew who he was.”
On Greg Manusky, he says, “I’m real familiar with his playbook and everything…gotta get used to the verbiage again. But to see him again, it’s just a great thing. Now we can just put things together again like we did in San Francisco and just bring it back here.”
When asked about the kind of player fans are going to see on Sundays, he responds, “Now I get a chance to compete for a starting job. They’re going to see the same player they saw in San Francisco but 10 times better.”