First Step is hiring new Coach. I would target Jeff Fisher, he is a good defensive mind has high character and is humble enough to not try to over control the organization. Thus he would leave the offense alone and would not try to take over some or all of the GM responsibilities.
Step 2 is positioning for the draft. I would certainly look to trade down for the #1 pick. I would target a trade with the Browns. Multiple NFL insiders are projecting this pick could land 2 1st round picks and a 2nd round pick this year and a 1st round and 2nd round next year. Cleveland has the #4 pick plus Atlanta's 1st round pick this year (will be anywhere from 20th to 28th pick)
Now we would have 2 1st rd and 2 2nd rd picks this year and next, with 2 of the first rounds certinaly being top 10 and maybe both top 5.
FYI.. RG3 will be available at #4 Rams and Vikes both took "future QBs" recently in draft.
Step 3: Evaluate health of Peyton Manning. IF Peytong is healthy I cut him to avoid the $28M signing bonus negotiate with him to sign in the $12M / yr range under the agreement I will use the cap space to try and win now.
If he agrees:
I would resign Peyton
I would cut: Vinatieri, Collins, Bracket
This would allow me to resign within the Salary Cap:
Mathis ($8 to $10 M /yr -- 3yrs)
Wayne ($8 M / yr -- 3yrs)
Jamal Anderson ($1.5M / yr -- 2yrs)
Tyler Brayton ($1M / yr -- 2yrs)
Diem ($2M / yr -- 2yrs)
Garcon ($3.5M / yr --- 4yrs)
Lacey ($0.8M / yr -- 1yr)
Sims ($1M / yr -- 3yrs)
Tamme ($0.8M / yr -- 3yrs)
Pollack ($1M / yr -- 1yr)
Wheeler ($0.8M / yr -- 3yr)
#4 Pick ($5M/ yr -- 4yr)
~#24 Pick ($2M / yr -- 4yr)
Leaves ~ $8M for later Round picks and FAs
I would use the #4 pick on LSU CB Claiborne
I would use the #24 pick on Bama Safety Barron
I would use the #33 pick on either MSU DT Worthy or Dontari Poe DT from memphis.
I would use later picks to target OG, Kirk Cousins QB, LBs
The Defensive front 7 was better this last year than they have been in years. Yards per carry were down. total rushing yards did not show the full benefit because the Def was play ~ 15 more plays per game because Offense couldn't get 1st downs. The secondary was where our defense was really weak. This draft would firm up the SS spot weak since Bob starting getting hurt, immediately take CB as our biggest weakness and puts in a potential All Pro, and adds a 350lb 1st rd caliber DT.
On offense resigning Reggie and Pierre with Manning back immediately puts us back in the top 6 in the NFL in offense, plus run game was better last year the years past first time over 4yds/ carry in last 4 yrs.
With the currently weak AFC, onyl real contenders are Baltimore and Pittsburgh this would position us well for Superbowl runs in each of the next 3 yrs and still have the cap pretty clean in 2015 for rebuilding, not to mention you have 2 1st rd picks in 2013 to target a top 10 QB or long term replacement for freeney, and a later 1st rd pick to look for long term solution for Saturday or Wayne, and beyond Freeny and MAthis the Defense is very young now. And the O-line is much younger. I would build the 2015 and beyond Colts around the Def and O-line.
If Peyton does not accept the $12M / yr deal,
I would go into rebuild mode now:
I would look for a sign and trade if not available I would let him leave.
I would then look to trade Freeney
I would cut Vinatieri
I would cut Dallas
I would also cut Bracket. bullit, collins,
I would not resign Wayne
I would draft RG3 with the #4 pick
I would try to trade back into the top 12 with my #24 and #36 picks to take Kirkpatrick CB from Alabama
I would use my #33 pick on Barron S Bama or Worthy DT MSU, or Poe DT memphis.
I would focus the rest of my draft on OL and LB
I would then go after a top FA OT and/or WR, as cap is clean from the cuts above.
Then in 2013 I would focus
top 10 pick on DE or WR (unless Honey Badger is available then I take him)
other 1st rd pick on DE or WR
Focus 2nd Rd on OL
This solidifies the Defense with a lot of youth set for 3 to 5 yrs, with alot of rookie contracts (cap friendly)
This solidifies the OL with youth movement improves run game and protects RG3
Cleans up Cap immediately to play in Free Agency while making a significant youth movement in the core of the team