Colts Offseason Needs: Pre-Free Agency

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts are a team on the rise, but like any other team, they have spots to fill on their roster.

Whether it is a position group that lacked depth last year or one that's facing a heavy free agent presence, the Colts have some needs to address this offseason.

Currently, we sit less than a week before the free agency frenzy begins at 4 p.m. ET March 13, when players can start crossing T's and dotting I's with new teams, so it will be the first major offseason event in which teams can address their roster. We'll continue to check in on this as the offseason progresses.

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. A need is primarily based off of who is under contract in 2019.

Here are 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, 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:

  • Chris Conley (Chiefs), Jamison Crowder (Redskins), Devin Funchess (Panthers), Adam Humphries (Buccaneers), T.J. Jones (Lions), Cody Latimer (Giants), ArDarius Stewart (Raiders), Golden Tate (Eagles), Tyrell Williams (Chargers)

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)

On the surface, the Colts absolutely need help here when you consider that three of their starting receivers (Ryan Grant, Dontrelle Inman and Chester Rogers) and another who began showing promise (Marcus Johnson) are all free agents. T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal are the only two under contract with any real playing experience. Two draft picks from 2018 were only able to see a handful of snaps, as Deon Cain tore an ACL during the preseason, and Daurice Fountain developed on the practice squad before being elevated to the active roster late in the season.

Luckily for the Colts, their large amount of available cap space means they can pursue whoever they please in free agency, and they have six draft picks within the first four rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Under contract in 2019:

  • Denico Autry, 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:

  • Shaq Barrett (Broncos), Malcom Brown (Patriots), Trey Flowers (Patriots), Dante Fowler (Rams), Timmy Jernigan (Eagles), Aaron Lynch (Bears), Darius Philon (Chargers), Sheldon Richardson (Vikings), Preston Smith (Redskins), Za’Darius Smith (Ravens)

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)

This would be a need even if the Colts had four Pro Bowlers on the line. The Colts constantly churn and rotate their defensive linemen, meaning anyone who is capable of getting snaps needs to play at the level of a starter. Luckily, the Colts only have two free agents from the defensive line set to test free agency.

The defensive line accounted for 28.5 sacks and 56.0 tackles for loss during the 2018 regular season, and free agency may only take one tackle for loss from that. Imagine what free agency and the draft could add to the group.

This is one of the deepest drafts for defensive linemen — both edge defenders and interior players — in recent memory, so it's not a bad time to grab a couple young players with potential. The free agent pool isn't bad either, with several starting-level players on the market.

SAFETY

Under contract in 2019:

  • Malik Hooker, Isaiah Johnson, Ronald Martin, Rolan Milligan, George Odum

2019 free agents:

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

Players that could fit the Colts in free agency:

  • Adrian Amos (Bears), Landon Collins (Giants), George Iloka (Vikings), Tyrann Mathieu (Texans), Adrian Phillips (Chargers), Kenny Vaccaro (Titans)

Players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

  • Johnathan Abram (Mississippi State), Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (Florida), Amani Hooker (Iowa), Taylor Rapp (Washington), Darnell Savage (Maryland)

This is a position that's getting hit hard by free agency, although, of course, the Colts have the funds to bring players back. If the Colts had a game tomorrow, their top three safeties would likely by Malik Hooker, George Odum and Rolan Milligan, so you can see the need for depth and experience throughout the group there.

Matthias Farley, Clayton Geathers and Mike Mitchell have been among the Colts biggest leaders and positive influences on their teammates recently, and Corey Moore last season played a big role on special teams as well.

The free agent class of safeties is oddly deep this year, but if last year was any indicator, the wheels of the free agent safety wagon can move crazy slow. Like the free agent class, the draft class has some quality to it as well, even into Day 3. Upcoming rookies like Johnathan Abram, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Taylor Rapp couldn't be any better of a fit for the Colts' defense.

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