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Updated March 13, 2010 @ 9:30 a.m. ET
Moves that nobody saw coming have suddenly become a hot trend in Indianapolis. With team insiders still scratching their heads over the hiring of former Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner to a position on the Colts' coaching staff that has yet to be specifically spelled out, the team continued to raise plenty of eyebrows with the March 8 release of Ryan Lilja, who started every game at left guard last season after missing the previous season with knee issues.
While Lilja would have earned a base salary of a little more than $3 million in 2010, it would appear money was no object in the decision to let him go, as the team paid him the $1.7 million roster bonus he was due before terminating his contract. Team president Bill Polian publicly singled out shortcomings on the offensive line as a key reason for the Colts' loss to the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV and has led insiders to believe a movement is afoot to go with bigger, more physical O-linemen. "But we all thought it wouldn't start until the draft," said one team insider caught off guard by the move.
While it's quite possible a high-round draft pick will end up replacing Lilja, possible replacements currently on the roster include 2008 draft picks Jamey Richard and Mike Pollak and newly acquired Andy Alleman, a free agent who was not offered a contract after playing for the Chiefs last season. Each of the three is taller and weighs more than the 6-2, 290-pound Lilja, who is expected to land on his feet on another team's roster. "They also could draft a new left tackle and consider moving Charlie Johnson to left guard," the insider added. The Colts added a new tackle with size to the mix when they signed ex-Raven Adam Terry to a one-year deal. The 6-8, 335-pound Terry, a 2005 second-round pick of the Ravens, was a restricted free agent who was not tendered by Baltimore.
For the most authoritative NFL draft news and free-agency analysis, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.