Indianapolis Colts Offseason Preview


In 2019, the Indianapolis Colts learned that Andrew Luck would retire. They were hot at the beginning of the year but stumbled to end the season and missed the playoffs. During the 2020 offseason, the Colts brought in Philip Rivers to man the quarterback spot, traded their first-round selection for DeForest Buckner, added T.J. Carrie and Xavier Rhodes via free agency, and drafted Michael Pittman, Jonathan Taylor, and Julian Blackmon with their first three selections in the draft. Those moves in the offseason were enough to push the Colts to the playoffs. Unfortunately, Indianapolis lost to the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card Round. 

To start the 2021 offseason, both Rivers and Anthony Castonzo announced their retirements, leaving possibly the two most important positions left without a starter. Also, Nick Sirianni, the team’s offensive coordinator in 2020, was hired by the Eagles to become their new head coach. Indianapolis promoted quarterback coach Marcus Brady to offensive coordinator in a corresponding move. On Thursday, the Colts solved their quarterback issue. Indianapolis sent their third-round pick this year and a conditional second-round pick in 2022 to the Philadelphia Eagles for Carson Wentz. Wentz now teams up with Frank Reich in hopes of returning to his former form and bringing a Super Bowl back to Indianapolis. 

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Pending Free Agents 

By adding in Wentz’s 2021 cap hit of $25,400,000, Indianapolis is set to have a touch under 43 million this offseason for cap space. That would still rank 4th in the league. The Colts have 21 upcoming free agents and will need to make some decisions on some key players. Chris Ballard is one of the best general managers and the league and won’t overpay during the free agency period, even re-signing his players. Indianapolis also has to look ahead to the 2022 free agency period where they will likely pick up the fifth-year option on Quenton Nelson, as well as re-sign the likes of Darius Leonard, Braden Smith, Nyheim Hines, and others. 

T.Y. Hilton, Wide Receiver 

Hilton hasn’t posted a 1,000-yard campaign since 2018 and has missed seven games over the past two seasons. He still has some left in the tank if he can stay healthy, but the price could be too steep as his market value could be above $10 million per year. With Pittman now likely turning as the number one receiver before free agency, Hilton could break the bank elsewhere or try to win a Super Bowl with the team that drafted him in 2012. This is perhaps the toughest decision for the Colts this re-signing period. 

Denico Autry, Defensive Line 

Autry has seen his career surge in Indianapolis since 2018. In 2020, Autry had 33 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks, which was good enough for third on the team. At one point, he was the leader on the team with his sack total. He is a bit inconsistent, but he is a leader and versatile, and that should make him have a good case to stick with the team. 

Justin Houston, EDGE 

Houston finished second on the team with eight sacks last season. He was very inconsistent throughout the season but has shown that he still has some left in the tank. Houston’s price tag will likely be too high for the Colts to bring him back for the 2021 season. 

Anthony Walker Jr, Linebacker 

Walker has been one of the unsung heroes of the Colts defense. He is the MIKE linebacker and has posted over 100 tackles in 2018, 2019, and almost 2020. He is one of the favorite players in the locker room, but the Colts are likely to transition to Bobby Okereke as the MIKE linebacker next season, and Indianapolis has made plenty of late-round selections on linebackers throughout the last few seasons. Thankfully, there are plenty of teams that could use Walker, like the Packers. 

Xavier Rhodes, Cornerback 

After an awful 2019 season, Rhodes came to Indianapolis on a one-year prove-it deal. Well, he proved himself. Rhodes had his best season since 2016 and was one of the reasons why the secondary took a major leap. Unfortunately for the Colts, his price tag could be too rich for them. Rhodes will surely cash in elsewhere. 

T.J. Carrie, Cornerback 

Like Rhodes, Carrie came to Indianapolis on a prove-it deal, and similar to Rhodes, he did as well. With Rhodes likely heading elsewhere to cash in, Carrie will be back to help the young secondary that could add another veteran via free agency. 

Zach Pascal, Wide Receiver (RFA)

Another reason the Colts could opt to let Hilton walk is Pascal. The third-year pro had another solid season where he posted career highs in catches and yards. In each of the last two years, he has posted over 600 yards and five touchdowns in each campaign. Being a restricted free agent, it will be easier for Indianapolis to keep him for the 2021 season. 

Mo Alie-Cox, Tight End (ERFA) 

Alie-Cox doesn’t have a say in his situation as an exclusive-rights free agent. Either he plays on the allotted amount, or he sits out the 2021 season. The Colts are going to keep him around after he was arguably their best tight end last year, catching 31 passes for 394 yards and two touchdowns. He could burst onto the scene even more with Wentz under center. 

Potential Cap Casualties 

While Indianapolis ranks fourth in cap space, there are still some players that they could cut to get more space. These players would allow Indianapolis to add over $6 million to their disposal, which could be enough to secure one of their priority free agents. 

Jordan Wilkins, RB ($1 Million Saved)

The Colts’ decision to draft Taylor in the second round was more than a wise one. Taylor proved he is a workhorse in the league. Taylor, paired with Nyheim Hines, who had his best season as a pro, is more than enough to carry the load for the Colts next season. Wilkins and Marlon Mack, who wasn’t discussed earlier, but is an impending free agent, are likely heading elsewhere. 

Matthew Adams, LB ($920K Saved) 

Every penny counts. Adams couldn’t even find the field on special teams this year. With a stacked linebacker room full of other intriguing young options, Adams is likely gone. 

Jack Doyle, TE ($4.28 Million Saved)

This could be a tough one for fans to swallow. Doyle’s production has simply tailed off over the last three years, and it’s time to move forward with Alie-Cox as the starter at the tight end position. Over the last three years, Doyle has averaged only 31 catches for 314 and yards and three touchdowns, and the injuries are starting to pile up. Doyle could very well come back on a cheaper contract if need be as well. 

Open Market Free Agents 

With their current cap space, the Colts should be active in free agency. Their holes on offense are currently wide receiver, tight end, and left tackle. Defensively, the needs are edge rusher and cornerback. Whatever positions that aren’t filled should be addressed early in the draft. 

Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions 

Golladay would be a perfect fit in Indianapolis to pair with Pittman and Pascal. With the Lions about to endure a full rebuild, Golladay will want out in almost any situation. The Lions could franchise tag him, but that would likely result in a tag-and-trade situation. Indianapolis should be focused on putting everything together around Wentz. The Colts have the cap space to sign Golladay to a multi-year deal. 

Solomon Thomas, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers 

Thomas only played in two games this season due to an injury but would be a great fit in Indianapolis. He would be a starter in base formats and could provide a spark that his career needs. He would be much cheaper than some of the other pass-rushers on the open market. 

Gerald Everett, TE, Los Angeles Rams 

Tight end could still be a priority for the Colts. Everett could provide similar if not better production than Doyle has over the past three years at a smaller price. 

Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona Cardinals 

Peterson is set to hit the open market for the first time in his career. Indianapolis seems like the perfect landing spot for him as they have the cap space, he’d be a starter and would be a great teacher to the younger cornerbacks on the roster. 

Previewing the Draft 

The Colts could go in a wide variety of directions with their first pick, The biggest glaring needs on the roster are left tackle, cornerback, and edge rusher. Thankfully, the tackle and cornerback class is loaded. They could also add depth to the interior of their offensive line in the middle rounds while also adding a receiver. 

Round 1, Pick 21: Left Tackle 

With Castonzo’s retirement, the Colts now have a large hole in his spot. They could opt to bring in Trent Williams via free agency, but with the tackle class being as deep as it is, that seems like the better option. Any of Samuel Cosmi, Christian Darrisaw, Jalen Mayfield, or Dillon Radunz would be a great pick at this spot. 

Round 2, Pick 53: Cornerback 

The cornerback spot is young, yet they need reinforcements. Rock Ya-Sin is still developing and isn’t ready to be a number one cornerback yet, by the looks of it. At this spot, any of Aaron Robinson, Greg Newsome II, Ifeatu Melifonwu, or Tyson Campbell would be available. 

Early 2021 Expectations

The Colts were a darkhorse Super Bowl team by many last year, and they got close by making it to the playoffs and losing by only a few plays to the Bills in the Wild Card Round. If Wentz can show that he isn’t the quarterback he was last year, the Colts are right in the thick of things in the AFC. By adding a receiver, cornerback, and left tackle, the Colts could be primed for a run at the Super Bowl. 

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