INDIANAPOLIS — For those Indianapolis Colts fans hoping to get a peek at the team's complete 2017 free agency plan, look no further.
And while we haven't yet been invited to sit in on new Colts general manager's personnel meetings this offseason — but still remain hopeful — Pro Football Focus has got you covered.
The website is releasing Free Agency Outlooks for all 32 teams, and recently uncovered what it believes would be some solid moves by the Colts, beginning at the start of free agency at 4 p.m. a week from today (March 9).
This is, of course, a critical offseason for the Colts organization, which parted ways with former general manager Ryan Grigson and hired Ballard, who has been largely responsible for the rebirth of the Kansas City Chiefs in recent seasons.
Not only is Ballard faced with trying to fill several roster holes — many of which are on the defensive side of the ball — but the team has several key veteran players set to become unrestricted free agents next week, including safety Mike Adams, tight end Jack Doyle, defensive back Darius Butler and running back Robert Turbin, among others.
Among those pending free agents, PFF's Eric Eager believes Doyle is one the Colts "must re-sign:"*
Jack Doyle, TE/FB, 76.0 overall grade in 2016*
"Most of the Colts' pending free agents are relatively replaceable, but Doyle has been something of a Swiss Army knife for the Colts' offense, serving as their move tight end for 750 of the teams' 1,096 possible snaps last season (68.4 percent). While he struggled as a pass protector (allowing eight total hurries in 76 pass-blocking snaps), he caught 81.9 percent of his targets for 584 yards and five touchdowns, grading out as the 16th-highest-graded receiving tight end in 2016. While the Colts will understandably push a lot of assets toward the defense this offseason, retaining Doyle should be a priority for Indianapolis."
PFF also offered the team's "Dream Splash" of free agency, or the player that, if the team was able to sign, would be the most ideal.
Pass rusher Melvin Ingram, PFF wrote, would be that guy for the Colts, although it was announced recently that Ingram was given the franchise tag by the Los Angeles Chargers, so he'll be off the market for at least another season.
But it's still important to note why PFF believes Ingram — or any effective pass rusher — would be an ideal signing for the Colts' defense:*
"Even if the Colts didn't have such a big pending hole stemming from the pending free agency of Mathis, Cole and Walden, Ingram represents a clear upgrade over what the Colts have gotten from the position recently. Indianapolis' pass rush — 32nd, 23rd and 30th in our pass-rushing grades over the last three years — would benefit greatly from last season's 10th-most-productive pass-rusher among 3-4 outside linebackers, whose 69 total pressures was fourth at the position. Many of the Colts' weaknesses on the back end can be mollified with the pass-rushing potential Ingram provides, and even a modest improvement in their defense should translate to a couple more wins in the weak AFC South."*
A couple weeks back, we brought your attention to a few key free agents that would be ideal fits for the Colts, according to MMQB’s Andy Benoit.
Well, PFF also has listed three pending free agents that it believes Ballard should target more than any others:Calais Campbell, DI, Arizona Cardinals, 90.4:
"Acquiring the fifth-most-productive rusher and the 11th-most-productive run defender at his position in 2016 would go a long way toward moving arguably the worst front-seven in the league up to the middle of the pack quickly."
A.J. Bouye, CB, Houston Texans, 90.9:
"Bouye was given more snaps last season than all of his previous seasons combined, and repaid the Texans with a season of consistent play that culminated in 14 pass breakups, three interceptions and a 59.5 passer rating allowed (fifth-best in the league). The Colts were the third-lowest-graded team in pass coverage a year ago, and the addition of Bouye to team with a hopefully resurgent Vontae Davis would make a corner duo worthy of a possible division champion."
Nick Perry, Edge, Green Bay Packers, 82.2:
"While the last time the Colts signed a former Packers' edge player (Erik Walden) didn't materialize the way they probably hoped, Perry differs in that he is actually coming off of a good season as he enters free agency. He was the most-productive 3-4 outside linebacker in turns of stopping the run, and his 10.0 pass-rushing productivity (distributed relatively equally to both the right and left) would be a nice piece to a rebuilt front-seven in Indianapolis."
The good news, according to Eager, is that while the Colts seemingly have a lot of moves they need to make, they appear to have cap space to work with, at a reported figure of $54.2 million — the eighth most in the NFL.*
"There's plenty of cap room for the team to acquire talent, especially in the front-seven," Eager writes. "While Andrew Luck (92.4 grade in 2016 – fourth among quarterbacks) can do quite a bit to carry an offense single-handedly, don't rule out the Colts tapping into a good group of free agent guards, or even going after a player like Martellus Bennett, as well, in free agency."*
The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.