Indianapolis Colts 2022 Offseason Previewby Mason Thompson February 10, 2022 0 comments
The Indianapolis Colts started their offseason a bit sooner than many expected. With win-and-in scenarios in the final two weeks of the season, the Colts didn’t take advantage of the situation and stumbled to a 9-8 record. The offseason has already gotten off to a rough start, with former defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus hired as the head coach of the Chicago Bears. Along with Eberflus, defensive backs coach Alan Williams, linebacker coach Dave Borgonzi, and cornerback coach James Rowe followed Eberflus to Chicago.
To replace Eberflus, Indianapolis hired Gus Bradley to man the defense. Bradley was the defensive coordinator of the Las Vegas Raiders during the 2021 season, has served as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and is known most for his work with the Seahawks during the early days of the Super Bowl runs. With another disappointing season by Frank Reich and Chris Ballard’s standards, the 2022 season for Indianapolis is a massive one.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Offseason Previews.
Pending Free Agents
According to Over the Cap, the Colts have a projected $37.6 million in cap space. The Colts have 28 players with expiring contracts, including many players that had a role during the 2021 season. Of the 28 players, seven played at least 50 percent of the snaps this last season, with plenty of others getting at least 20 percent as well. Indianapolis usually does sign their players to large deals instead of spending on the open market.
Muhammad started every game for the Colts this year and showed why he should remain on the roster. Defensive end has been an issue for Indianapolis for the last few years. That is why they selected Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo with their first two choices in the 2021 draft. However, Muhammad has played in at least 15 games in each of the last three years and had a career-high six sacks in 2021. The Colts could likely bring him back for cheap and play him as the third edge rusher.
With Jack Doyle thinking about retirement, the Colts could be stuck with only Kylen Granson at the tight end spot. Alie-Cox has consistently provided a spark in the offense and had 318 yards and four touchdowns this past season. The 28-year-old could be in for a solid payday in the coming weeks with Doyle rumored to be considering retirement and the fact Granson may not be ready.
The former number one pick came to Indianapolis this year following a torn Achilles. While he didn’t play as well as many expected him to, Indianapolis would be wise to bring Fisher back on another one-year deal to start the 2022 season while the front office and coaching staff figure out the future of the position.
Potential Cap Casualties
With the current cap situation, Indianapolis is in a good position heading into free agency. Only six players have a cap number above $10 million next season. While there likely won’t be many large cap chunks returned, there are a few small ones.
Jack Doyle ($5.5 Million Saved)
As stated already, Doyle is considering retirement. With Alie-Cox needing a contract and Granson potentially working his way into the offense more, Doyle could be on his way out either way. The money that would be saved could go to giving Alie-Cox a new contract or adding a priority free agent at one of their main needs.
Ben Banogu ($1.3 Million Saved)
With the additions of Paye and Odeyingbo, Banogu was already potentially out the door. Pair that with the success that Muhammad and Kemoko Turay playing well in depth roles, Banogu could be out the door after he was a second-round pick a few years back. Banogu hasn’t found the starting lineup and only has 17 tackles and 2.5 sacks in three years with Indianapolis.
Carson Wentz ($13.3 Million Saved)
While this is unlikely to happen, there is a chance it does. Wentz didn’t do as well as many expected him to do this year. Indianapolis would save $13.3 million but incur a penalty of $15 million as well. The likely scenario of cutting Wentz would be if Indianapolis were to land one of Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson. Some want Wentz gone, but a large majority know that won’t happen unless the Colts trade for one of the two quarterbacks already mentioned.
Open Market Free Agent Targets
The Colts have one of the best rosters in football. They have the best running back in the league, paired with two standouts on defense. They do have needs at receiver, tight end, left tackle, and cornerback ahead of free agency. Thankfully, the wide receiver market is full of players that would fill the number one role for Indianapolis. Without a first-round pick, the Colts could be aggressive on the open market to get their top players.
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Colts desperately need receiver help outside of Michael Pittman. The receiver core for the Colts lacks a number one option, and Godwin would be just that for Indianapolis. The duo of Godwin and Pittman, with Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell, is much better than it was this year. While the Colts would have to fork up some cash on the open market, which they don’t usually do, it would be well worth the investment to bring in Godwin.
Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
The tight end position for the Colts is a major question mark. Insert Gesicki, who would also cost a pretty penny to bring to Indianapolis. The Dolphins haven’t used Gesicki as much as they should have during his tenure, and a team like the Colts bringing him in would be beneficial for both sides. The tight end spot would go from a weakness to strength with the depth at the position behind Gesicki.
Ahkello Witherspoon, Pittsburgh Steelers
While Rock Ya-Sin finally came into his own during the 2021 season, the departures of many on the staff could hurt his progression. Another factor in signing Witherspoon is that Xavier Rhodes is an impending free agent. Isaiah Rodgers could potentially fill the role Rhodes was in this year. Either way, Indianapolis needs to bring in another option that not only would fit well into the scheme Bradley is implementing but provide valuable depth at the cornerback position.
Previewing the 2022 NFL Draft
Yet again, the Colts will be without a first-round pick, thanks to the Wentz trade. The Colts have the rest of their selections outside of a sixth-rounder, plus a seventh-round choice from Philadelphia. Indianapolis is expected to receive fifth and sixth-round compensatory picks as well. The Colts will be interesting to watch during the draft, as they always are.
Round 2, Pick 47: Offensive Tackle
While the receiver position could be the biggest need, this is the scenario where they spend big in free agency on one. Now, the top need becomes finding a successor at left tackle. Some players that might be available at this selection include Nicholas Petit-Frere, Bernhard Raimann, Max Mitchell, and Daniel Faalele. Most, if not all of those four, may need an extra year of development before starting into the starting lineup, which is why re-signing Fisher to a one-year deal should be one of their top priorities.
Round 3, Pick 83: Cornerback
As stated, the cornerback position will need some work this offseason, either in the form of free-agent signees or draft selections. They could also use both of those to improve the position. Some players they could look at in this range are Derion Kendrick, Tariq Woolen, Martin Emerson, Coby Bryant, and Akayleb Evans. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Indianapolis spend multiple selections in the cornerback room.
Early 2022 Expectations
The Colts should be competing for Super Bowls with the current roster and not losing in must-win games. With the core together for another offseason and some key additions in free agency and the draft, Indianapolis should once again be fighting for a playoff spot in 2022. If they aren’t, it may be time for Reich to enter the hot seat. Thankfully, the Colts play in the same division as the Jaguars and the Houston Texans, which works in their favor.