Lilja or Scott?

OG Jake Scott (Brian Bahr/Getty)

Scout.com's Ed Thompson says that the Colts have a big choice to make during the offseason between unrestricted free agents Ryan Lilja and Jake Scott. Or will the Colts let both sign with other teams? Read on, and then tell us what you think the team will do.

The Colts' two starting guards, Ryan Lilja and Jake Scott, will both be unrestricted free agents this season. And you can rest assured that with the reputation of Indianapolis' offensive line, both will receive bids from other clubs.

Despite the fact that the pair has flanked center Jeff Saturday since the 2005 season, it wouldn't be surprising to see both of them playing elsewhere in 2008. And that's not a statement of disrespect for either players' talent, because they both have performed remarkably during their tenure with the Colts. And I'd like nothing more than to see both of them return to Indianapolis in 2008.

But that's not likely to be practical from a financial perspective for the team. And team president Bill Polian hasn't shown much commitment to re-signing guards when they hit the open market. Based on his past decisions, he definitely puts a higher premium on tackles and the center position. 

Back in 1998, Polian's first year in Indianapolis, Steve McKinney was drafted in the fourth round by the Colts and developed into a reliable starter at guard on a pretty good line as well. Indianapolis then watched as he signed on with the Texans when he hit unrestricted free agency in 2002. The same situation played out with 2001 seventh-round pick Rick DeMulling when he hit unrestricted status prior to the 2005 season. He ended up in Detroit.


Ryan Lilja ready to protect Peyton Manning.
AP Photo/Tom Strattman

The Colts intermittently plugged other players in at guard during the Polian era, such as Tupe Peko and Steve Sciullo opposite DeMulling. And current right tackle Ryan Diem was the usual starter opposite DeMulling during the 2002 season. McKinney played with a rotation of players as well during his seasons at left guard, including guys like Tony Mandarich, Larry Moore and Waverly Jackson.

But during Polian's ten seasons in Indianapolis, the guard position has been a largely transient one with no guard to date holding down the starter's role for more than four years. So it certainly begs the question of whether or not Polian will let both Lilja and Scott go to seek a bigger payday after this season or whether he'll try to keep at least one as an anchor and pair up Dylan Gandy, who'll be a restricted free agent at the end of the year, with one of the incumbent starters.

I looked at some important numbers on both players and uncovered a good reason to give Ryan Lilja the edge, while also noticing one caution flag that could be a concern to investing too heavily in him. I've also recently had a conversation with one of our network sources that brought to light some information that indicates that Lilja might be the tougher of the two to re-sign. 

But there's also two very good reasons to keep Jake Scott instead. And I can also tell you about something I personally observed while Bill Polian talked about one of those two players following the Colts' win over the Ravens during the playoffs last year. 

I'll share all that information with our ColtPower Insiders in this exclusive feature. And then we'll discuss who you'd pick in a thread in our ColtPower Insiders Forum after you've read that additional information on the pair. 

If you're not an Insider yet, try it out for free for seven days by clicking here. Or join the discussion on this topic in our free Indianapolis Colts Fan Forum.

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