INDIANAPOLIS — It's no secret that the Indianapolis Colts are hoping (and have already began) to overhaul their defense this offseason.
New general manager Chris Ballard has a successful past helping build strong defenses, and while the Colts still have some areas to address on offense and on special teams, one can imagine the focus, at least this time around, will be on the defensive side of the ball.
How exactly this will take place is still yet to be seen. We're still early enough in the offseason where free agency has not started, and, of course, we're still more than two months away from the start of the NFL Draft.
So to help pass the time, many experts and pundits from across the league are offering their two cents as to which pending free agents could be heading elsewhere in 2017. Keep in mind: any pending free agent can re-sign with their current team before the official start of free agency on March 9.
MMQB's Andy Benoit this week released a list of "25 Players Who Could Get Even Richer in Free Agency," and most, if not all, of the names are players that pretty much any team across the league would love to have on their roster.
Benoit lists each player with a description his desirable traits and/or their situation, as well as three potential best matches for that particular player.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Colts appear as a match for six of these players — each of whom are on the defensive side of the ball.
You can read Benoit's entire piece by clicking here, but here's a look at the six players he believes could potentially be good matches for the Colts once free agency begins March 9:*
- BRANDON WILLIAMS, DT, RAVENS*
He's built to be a nose, but he's shown the athleticism and tenacity to thrive at 3-technique. If he's not one of the five highest-paid DTs this year, it's because some team got a steal.
Match: BAL, IND, DET
8. CALAIS CAMPBELL, DT, CARDINALS
He has the wingspan of a pterodactyl and the strength of a stegosaurus. Rare is the D-lineman who is as steadily destructive.
Match Game: ARI, CLE, IND
14. JASON PIERRE-PAUL, DE, GIANTS
JPP is a powerful pass rusher, capable of getting eight to 10 sacks, and he's even better against the run. His three mutilated fingers (from a '15 fireworks accident) are a concern, but he adjusted his game in '16 to compensate.
Match: NYG, WAS, IND
18. DONT'A HIGHTOWER, LB, PATRIOTS
He's as sturdy as they come against the run, both in space and up on the line of scrimmage. He's also one of the game's best blitzers.
Match Game: NE, IND, WAS
19. TONY JEFFERSON, SS, CARDINALS
A hidden gem, he's one of the best blitzing safeties in football, and he was terrific in man coverage against tight ends in '16, even when he was isolated on the perimeter.
Match Game: ARI, CLE, IND
25. MICAH HYDE, DB, PACKERS
Great at nothing but sound at everything (including punt returns)—that kind of versatility can change a D's makeup, especially when you consider he can bring it from the slot, too.
Match Game: GB, WAS, IND
The Colts, of course, have many decisions to make on their own pending free agents, many of whom have been key playmakers on both sides of the ball.
In all, Indianapolis has nine unrestricted free agents who can officially hit the open market come March 9:
• Safety Mike Adams
• Defensive back Darius Butler
• Outside linebacker Chris Carter
• Outside linebacker Trent Cole
• Tight end Jack Doyle
• Guard Hugh Thornton
• Running back Jordan Todman
• Running Back Robert Turbin
• Outside linebacker Erik Walden
Center/guard Jonotthan Harrison, defensive lineman Zach Kerr and inside linebacker Josh McNary, meanwhile, are the team's three restricted free agents, while wide receiver/kick returner Quan Bray and tight end Mo Alie-Cox are its exclusive rights free agents.
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.