INDIANAPOLIS —The Indianapolis Colts will have a new top cornerback in 2018.
Rashaan Melvin, the Colts' No. 1 corner in 2017, on Friday signed a free agent deal with the Oakland Raiders, the team announced.
Melvin joined the Colts in 2016 as a journeyman of sorts, having played for four teams over the first three years of his career, but looked to take advantage when Indy was hit hard with the injury bug at the cornerback position early in the season. Melvin didn't disappoint, playing in 15 games with nine starts and totaling 52 tackles with seven passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
Melvin returned for the 2017 offseason ready to take on a much larger role within the Colts' defense, however, and by Week 1, he had ascended into the top cornerback spot on the depth chart.
And he played like it, too.
Three-fourths of the way into the season, he was playing as well as any corner in the league, and despite suffering a season-ending hand injury Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans, Melvin had set himself up well for an impending offseason in which he was set to once again become an unrestricted free agent, finishing with 36 tackles, a career-best three interceptions and 13 passes defensed.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard, talking to the media at the NFL Scouting Combine in late-February, said the team certainly wanted to bring Melvin back in 2018, but that the Colts would likely let the cornerback test the market versus trying to work out an extension prior to the March 14 new league year and the start of free agency.
With Melvin now a member of the Raiders, Ballard hopes to keep building key young pieces at the cornerback position, though another veteran corner from last season, Pierre Desir, remains an unsigned free agent and is certainly an option should the two sides decide to work out a deal.
With Melvin and other key members of the secondary injured down the stretch last season, the Colts were forced to go young at the cornerback position. That experience could very well pay off moving forward for guys like Quincy Wilson, Kenny Moore II, Chris Milton and D.J. White, while Nate Hairston played solid as the team's primary nickel cornerback his entire rookie season.