INDIANAPOLIS – The good news about this coming offseason?
The Colts don't need to finalize a blockbuster deal for their franchise quarterback or spend a bunch of resources to bolster their offensive line personnel.
The bad news?
The Colts to do need to upgrade the defensive personnel and find other necessary improvements to end a two-year postseason drought.
A look at the 2017 off-season storylines for the Colts:
**The defensive numbers were not pretty for the Colts this past year.
Ranking 30th in total defense (382.9 yards per game allowed), 22nd in points (24.5 points per game allowed), 26th in takeaways (17 forced turnovers) and 19th in sacks (33 sacks).
Ted Monachino's first season as the team's defensive coordinator saw him end the season with just a handful of expected opening day starters still together in Week 17.
More personnel changes, throughout the unit, are needed in the offseason.
Outside of Vontae Davis, the Colts really don't have a locked in returning starter with questions regarding possible position changes (i.e. Clayton Geathers) and injuries (i.e. Kendall Langford) impacting the 2017 outlook on defense.
The draft is the ideal route to upgrading the defense, but the Colts still have some money in free agency to re-sign their own, and potentially find a starting caliber player or two on the open market.**
Pass Rushing Torch Passed
**When talking about the defensive changes needed in 2017, it starts with the pass rush.
The Colts entered the 2016 offseason with a clear focus of improving the offensive line talent.
The focus in 2017 should be centered on the pass rush.
When the 2017 season gets underway, the Colts won't have a Freeney or a Mathis on the roster for the first time since 2001.
Early returns on the 2017 draft class indicate a stronger pass-rushing group (especially compared to last year), which should be music to the ears of the Colts.
The outside linebacker position next season could look vastly different for the Colts with Mathis now retired and Trent Cole/Erik Walden, both north of 30 years old, entering free agency.**
Returning Free Agents?
**The Colts have nine unrestricted free agents in 2017.
About a handful of those guys are coming off very solid contract years.
On offense, the big names are Robert Turbin and Jack Doyle. The Colts have stated Doyle is a definite priority to come back. Turbin was exceptional in his role as a backup running back in 2016, scoring eight touchdowns.
On defense, the names include outside linebacker Erik Walden, safety Mike Adams and cornerback/safety Darius Butler.
The free agency outlook for those on defense is probably a little murkier, for a variety of reasons.
March 9 is the start of the new league year, so don't expect any moves regarding these names until the days around the beginning of free agency.
**Five Blocking For Andrew Luck
**It took some time in 2016, as you would expect, but the Colts appear to have found a five-man offensive line unit to build around for next season.
Le'Raven Clark entered the starting lineup in mid-December and showed quite a few flashes of a long-term answer at right tackle.
When Jack Mewhort (knee) returns from injury in 2017, the Colts could run out a starting five of LT-Anthony Castonzo, LG-Jack Mewhort, C-Ryan Kelly, RG-Joe Haeg and RT-Le'Raven Clark next year.
That group would have versatile backups, too: Austin Blythe, Denzelle Good, Jonotthan Harrison and Joe Reitz.
While the overall pressure around Andrew Luck still must go down, the unit made strides in opening up running holes in 2016.**
Running Back Future
**No NFL running back in league history has ever started all 16 games at the age of 34.
Will Frank Gore change that next season?
Gore will turn 34 years old in May, preparing for the final season of a three-year deal he inked back in 2015.
Watch Gore in 2016 and he still showed he's a capable starter in this league.
However, the Colts cannot ignore the future of a group that is typically riddled with attrition.
Like pass rusher, the running back draft class for 2017 has depth.
Spending a middle-round pick to work behind/alongside Gore and a potentially re-signed Robert Turbin would make a lot of sense.
A look back at some of the top photos of the 2016 season!