Colts 2020 Offseason Needs: Pre-Free Agency

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INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL's "legal tampering period" for free agency is now under way as of noon ET on Monday, paving the way for all teams to begin contract discussions with outside free agents.

With this important domino falling — as well as Monday's deadline to designate players with the franchise or transition tag — there's no better time than now to visit what teams' roster needs are.

The Indianapolis Colts sit in a great position as far as salary cap space goes, possessing among the most in the league. However, that space is about to begin getting distributed to some players whose contracts are set to expire, whether they were already with the Colts or not. What positions may be getting some of that money? Let's take a look.

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

PASSING GAME UPGRADES

Under contract in 2020:

  • QB — Jacoby Brissett, Brian Hoyer, Chad Kelly | WR — T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin, Steve Ishmael, Chad Williams, Artavis Scott, Malik Henry, Rodney Adams | TE — Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox, Xavier Grimble, Billy Brown, Ian Bunting, Matt Lengel

2020 free agents:

  • QB — None | WR — Devin Funchess (UFA), Dontrelle Inman (UFA), Chester Rogers (UFA), Marcus Johnson (RFA), Daurice Fountain (ERFA) | TE — Eric Ebron (UFA)

Players that could fit the Colts in free agency:

  • QB — Tom Brady (New England Patriots), Teddy Bridgewater (New Orleans Saints), Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers), Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) | WR — Nelson Agholor (Philadelphia Eagles), Amari Cooper (Dallas Cowboys; reported deal with Dallas Cowboys), Breshad Perriman (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Demarcus Robinson (Kansas City Chiefs), Tajae Sharpe (Tennessee Titans) | TE — Austin Hooper (Atlanta Falcons; reported deal with Cleveland Browns)

Players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

  • QB — Jacob Eason, Anthony Gordon, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, Jordan Love | WR — Brandon Aiyuk, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Denzel Mims, Henry Ruggs III | TE — Hunter Bryant, Brycen Hopkins, Cole Kmet, Albert Okwuegbunam, Adam Trautman

The Colts' passing offense finished third from the bottom in 2019 after averaging just 194.2 yards per game. There were plenty of injuries to very important players that contributed to their issues, but you have to be able to perform regardless of circumstance. The Colts are not only facing last year's struggles, but they also have several key players due to hit free agency in Devin Funchess, Eric Ebron and Chester Rogers. They have to replenish the cupboard as well as keep in mind that star receiver T.Y. Hilton is turning 31 years old during the season. They could be looking at reloading in the passing game, which is good timing considering this year's NFL Draft is potentially historically deep at the receiver position.

OFFENSIVE LINE DEPTH

Under contract in 2020:

  • OT — Anthony Castonzo, Braden Smith, Andrew Donnal, Cedrick Lang, Brandon Hitner, Travis Vornkahl | IOL — Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski, Jake Eldrenkamp, Javon Patterson, Chaz Green

2020 free agents:

  • OT — Le'Raven Clark (UFA) | IOL — Josh Andrews (UFA), Joe Haeg (UFA)

Players that could fit the Colts in free agency:

  • OT — TBD | IOL — Graham Glasgow (Detroit Lions; reported deal with Denver Broncos), Ted Karras (New England Patriots), Connor McGovern (Denver Broncos), Michael Schofield (Los Angeles Chargers)

Players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

  • OT — Hakeem Adeniji, Austin Jackson, Josh Jones, Lucas Niang, Prince Tego Wanogho | IOL — Tyler Biadasz, Ben Bredeson, Kevin Dotson, Jonah Jackson, Cesar Ruiz

The Colts were able to get a commitment from left tackle Anthony Castonzo that he'd not only continue playing football, but that he'd also re-sign with them. With that sigh of relief, the team still has its top two reserve tackles set to hit free agency in Le'Raven Clark and Joe Haeg. The pair also provide depth at guard, so their versatility is critical for the Colts' offensive line depth. This year's offensive tackle group in the draft is a good one, which is a big positive considering the free agent tackle class has a mix of quite a few older veterans and players who have primarily been starters throughout their careers (the latter of which the Colts don't really need). That doesn't quite fit, as the Colts may likely be more in the market for quality depth players, so we'll revisit potential candidates after the free agency frenzy is through.

DEFENSIVE LINE DEPTH

Under contract in 2020:

  • DE — Justin Houston, Kemoko Turay, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Ben Banogu, Gerri Green, Jegs Jegede | DT — Denico Autry, Grover Stewart, Tyquan Lewis

2020 free agents:

  • DE — Jabaal Sheard (UFA) | DT — Trevon Coley (RFA)

Players that could fit the Colts in free agency:

  • DE — Jadeveon Clowney (Seattle Seahawks), Dante Fowler Jr. (Los Angeles Rams), Yannick Ngakoue* (FT, Jacksonville Jaguars), Robert Quinn (Dallas Cowboys) | DT — Javon Hargrave (Pittsburgh Steelers; reported deal with Philadelphia Eagles), D.J. Reader (Houston Texans), Shelby Harris (Denver Broncos)

Players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

  • DE — K'Lavon Chaisson, A.J. Epenesa, Yetur Gross-Matos, Terrell Lewis, Julian Okwara | DT — Marlon Davidson, Ross Blacklock, Derrick Brown, Neville Gallimore, Javon Kinlaw

The Colts finished tied for 15th in sacks in 2019 with 41, which isn't bad, but is off the mark for where they'd like to rank in league standings. The team often stresses the importance of not only having a strong pass rush, but having depth there as well so that pressure may come in waves. With Jabaal Sheard set to hit free agency, the Colts would need to ensure they have a starting left defensive end who can not only provide pressure, but who can seal the edge against the run at a high level as Sheard does. Their top edge rusher, Justin Houston, is also turning 32 after the regular season. This offseason, there are some high-quality options potentially available in both free agency and the draft.

*Note, while Yannick Ngakoue received the franchise tag from the Jacksonville Jaguars, he has said that he does not have interest in signing a long-term deal with them.

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