Colts Offseason Needs: Post-Free Agency Frenzy

2019_0105_HOU_3501

INDIANAPOLIS — It was a relatively tame first couple weeks of the free agent "frenzy" for the Indianapolis Colts up until Thursday afternoon, but they did bring back eight of their own free agents so far this offseason as well as two big outside names.

The team's needs haven't changed drastically since the last time we checked — the Colts have focused on bringing back their own players rather than spending exorbitantly elsewhere — but there is still plenty of offseason left and plenty of ammo in the form of salary cap space and draft capital to make moves.

Don’t forget, saying something is an area of need doesn’t mean that it can’t be partially addressed with the team’s own free agents, like we've already seen this offseason. A need is primarily based off of who is under contract in 2019.

Here's what could be considered the Colts’ top three areas to be addressed, listed in depth chart order.

WIDE RECEIVER

Under contract in 2019:

  • Deon Cain, Daurice Fountain, Devin Funchess, T.Y. Hilton, Krishawn Hogan, Steve Ishmael, Zach Pascal, Jordan Veasy, James Wright

2019 free agents:

  • Ryan Grant (UFA), Dontrelle Inman (UFA), Marcus Johnson (ERFA), Chester Rogers (RFA)

Players that could fit the Colts in free agency:

  • Justin Hunter (Steelers), T.J. Jones (Lions), Russell Shepard (Giants), ArDarius Stewart (Raiders), Terrance Williams (Cowboys)

Players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

  • A.J. Brown (Ole Miss), Marquise Brown (Oklahoma), Hakeem Butler (Iowa State), Parris Campbell (Ohio State), Kelvin Harmon (NC State), N’Keal Harry (Arizona State), Terry McLaurin (Ohio State), Riley Ridley (Georgia), Deebo Samuel (South Carolina)

The Colts were able to sign former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess at the start of free agency, but not much else has changed with the position group. Chester Rogers and Marcus Johnson were both tendered offers by the team but have yet to sign. Ryan Grant and Dontrelle Inman are also both out on the market as unrestricted free agents. T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal are the only two Colts receivers under contract in 2019 who played extensively last year. Deon Cain and Daurice Fountain were rookies last year, but we didn't see enough from them yet — Cain tore an ACL in the preseason and Fountain spent most of the season on the practice squad — to not continue addressing the position group.

The cupboard is a little bare in free agency at this point — it's mostly bridge players available — but there will still be tons of talent to be had in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. The depth of talent leading into Day 3 will give the Colts plenty of opportunity to address the position where they see fit.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Under contract in 2019:

  • Denico Autry, Justin Houston, Margus Hunt, Tyquan Lewis, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Carroll Phillips, Hassan Ridgeway, Jabaal Sheard, Grover Stewart, Kemoko Turay, Jihad Ward, DeShawn Williams, Anthony Winbush

2019 free agents:

  • Geneo Grissom (UFA), Al Woods (UFA)

Players that could fit the Colts in free agency:

  • Ezekiel Ansah (Lions), Dominique Easley (Rams), Rodney Gunter (Cardinals), Timmy Jernigan (Eagles), Dion Jordan (Seahawks), Aaron Lynch (Bears), Cassius Marsh (49ers), Benson Mayowa (Cardinals), Shane Ray (Broncos)

Players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

  • Brian Burns (Florida State), L.J. Collier (TCU), Clelin Ferrell (Clemson), Dre’Mont Jones (Ohio State), Dexter Lawrence (Clemson), Charles Omenihu (Texas), Jeffery Simmons (Mississippi State), Montez Sweat (Mississippi State), Jerry Tillery (Notre Dame), Christian Wilkins (Clemson)

We can't start without mentioning Thursday's news of the Colts signing former Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro edge rusher, Justin Houston. Regardless of a signing that big, the defensive line will always be an area to be addressed for every team. The Colts could still use reinforcements, especially since they rely so heavily on rotating through waves of players and specialized groupings.

The Colts didn't have many issues facing them free-agent wise beginning the new year — only Geneo Grissom, Margus Hunt and Al Woods were free agents, and they already brought Hunt back — so they are in the position to focus on upgrading and adding depth rather than playing from behind. The Colts were outstanding at wrecking the backfield in 2018, leading the league with four players with at least 12 tackles for loss, but they ranked tied for 19th in sacks (38.0).

This was a great crop of defensive linemen at the top of free agency, but franchise tags and long-term deals took care of that pretty quickly. With Houston being let go by the Chiefs, it gave the Colts the chance to acquire a high-level pass rusher without having spend major capital to draft one, although that is still a possibility. The rest of the free agent pool is now mostly mid-level starters and rotational players, which is fine considering the depth of this draft class of edge defenders and interior defensive linemen. The trenches and building a roster from the inside, out will always be part of Chris Ballard and Frank Reich's beliefs, so the betting odds say the defensive line will look even deeper coming into training camp in July.

DEFENSIVE BACK

Under contract in 2019:

  • Jalen Collins, Pierre Desir, Clayton Geathers, Nate Hairston, Malik Hooker, Isaiah Johnson, D.J. Killings, Ronald Martin, Rolan Milligan, Chris Milton, Kenny Moore II, George Odum, Quincy Wilson

2019 free agents:

  • Matthias Farley (RFA), Mike Mitchell (UFA), Corey Moore (RFA), J.J. Wilcox (UFA)

Players that could fit the Colts in free agency:

  • Jahleel Addae (Chargers), Eric Berry (Chiefs), Tre Boston (Cardinals), Jordan Richards (Falcons), Darian Stewart (Broncos)

Players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

  • Johnathan Abram (Mississippi State), Deandre Baker (Georgia), Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (Florida), Julian Love (Notre Dame), Byron Murphy (Washington), Amani Oruwariye (Penn State), Taylor Rapp (Washington), Greedy Williams (LSU), Rock Ya-Sin (Temple)

Two big dominoes fell for the Colts when they re-signed a couple defensive back starters cornerback Pierre Desir and strong safety Clayton Geathers. The Colts also placed a restricted free agent tender on safety Matthias Farley, but he has yet to sign. If he does indeed return then the Colts will have a strong safety grouping, but injuries have been a consistent threat to them. The same can be said about the Colts' strength at corner, as Desir, Kenny Moore II and Quincy Wilson were outstanding down the stretch in 2018, and Jalen Collins is entering his first full offseason with the team.

However, like pass rushers and defensive linemen, you can never have too many defensive backs. That is especially true in today's NFL when there are often at least five defensive backs on the field at once, and the Colts often use a third safety in dime packages. Like the other two needs, the free agent pool is rather shallow right now. However, there are a handful of quality players still around, especially at safety. The first two days of the draft are stocked full of quality defensive backs.

Related Content

Advertising