INDIANAPOLIS — With the 2020 season now at its halfway point, it's time to take a quick look into next offseason and the Indianapolis Colts' pending free agents. Let's go position-by-position to see which players are set to hit the open market (contract information via Spotrac.com):
Set to become free agents: Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers
• We'll start at an obvious point: quarterback, where both your starter (Philip Rivers) and backup (Jacoby Brissett) are set to become free agents after this season. The belief when Rivers signed his one-year free agent deal in March was that he could very well return in 2021, but that doesn't mean the Colts still can't address the future of the position next year, while also giving 2020 fourth-round pick Jacob Eason every opportunity to develop into a starter. With Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State's Justin Fields set to be top-five picks in next year's NFL Draft, Chris Ballard could make a huge move to try to snag one of those elite prospects, or perhaps there's another 2021 QB the team has its eye on? Or what about free agency? A guy like Dak Prescott is set to highlight the current crop of NFL quarterbacks set to hit the open market next March.
Set to become free agents: Marlon Mack
• At running back, Marlon Mack is set to become a free agent. While you selected Jonathan Taylor in the second round of this year's NFL Draft, and he's shown he can clearly handle the starting job if needed, perhaps there's a chance you explore the possibility of bringing Mack, who is out for the year with a torn Achilles, back for at least another year or two just because of his clear talent, leadership and production in this offense.
Set to become free agents: Ashton Dulin, T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal
• The wide receiver position could get interesting. T.Y. Hilton has been the Colts' top receiver going on eight seasons now, but he's set to become a free agent this offseason and enters his age-31 season next year. I think like at quarterback, the Colts will definitely try to ensure both the here and now and the future at the wide receiver position this offseason; Hilton can still be a major threat, but the team also might need to find its future No. 1, either through free agency or the draft. And don't overlook the fact that Zach Pascal is set to become a free agent, either; he's beloved by this coaching staff and has emerged the last couple years as a solid option both outside and in the slot, and is a terrific run-blocking receiver; and don't overlook Dulin, who is somewhat in the same mold as Pascal as a do-it-all receiver with speed who is also a key special teams contributor.
Set to become free agents: Mo Alie-Cox, Trey Burton
• Tight end could be very interesting, too, as both Mo Alie-Cox and Trey Burton, two of your top downfield receiving threats at the position, are set to become free agents. While the Colts have three young tight ends they're very high on in Noah Togiai (who is currently on the active roster) and Farrod Green and Hale Hentges (who are currently on the practice squad), it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibilities for the team to try to bring back Alie-Cox and/or Burton in 2021 to match up with veteran Jack Doyle once again.
Set to become free agents: Le'Raven Clark, Chaz Green
• The Colts, fortunately, are pretty set along the offensive line, as all five starters — left tackle Anthony Castonzo, left guard Quenton Nelson, center Ryan Kelly, right guard Mark Glowinski and right tackle Braden Smith — are signed through the 2021 season. The depth behind them is another question. 2020 fifth-round pick Danny Pinter, who is a top backup option at both center and guard, will be around awhile, but the Colts' top backup tackles, Le'Raven Clark and Chaz Green, are both set to become free agents this offseason. Perhaps this is when Indy tries to find its left tackle of the future to develop behind Castonzo?
Set to become free agents: Denico Autry, Sheldon Day, Justin Houston, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Taylor Stallworth, Grover Stewart
• The Colts sure have some work ahead of them this offseason when it comes to their defensive line, as three of their current starters up front — defensive ends Justin Houston and Denico Autry, and defensive tackle Grover Stewart — are currently set to become free agents in March; three other major parts of the rotation in defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad and defensive tackles Sheldon Day and Taylor Stallworth are also set to hit the open market. That's six of your eight or nine top defensive linemen right there. Houston has more than proven that he still has plenty left in the tank after signing a two-year deal with the Colts last year, but he will be entering his age-32 season in 2021, so, like Hilton at wide receiver, Houston very well could be brought back, but the team also needs to figure out its future at edge rusher. Stewart, meanwhile, seems like a prime candidate for a possible contract extension at some point; a fourth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Stewart has developed into a solid run stuffer up front and only seems to be getting better playing next to DeForest Buckner.
Set to become free agents: Anthony Walker
• Indy currently has a huge decision to make at linebacker, as Anthony Walker, its starter at the MIKE LB spot and a key team leader, is set to become a free agent this offseason. The Colts love their linebacker trio of Walker, Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke, and while Okereke has certainly seen an uptick in playing time this season, one has to imagine the Colts will very seriously explore the possibility of bringing Walker back.
Set to become free agents: T.J. Carrie, Xavier Rhodes, Tremon Smith
• Kudos to Xavier Rhodes, who to this point of the season has had a career rejuvenation of sorts in his first year with the Colts; after signing a one-year deal in Indy this past offseason, he, too, is set to become a free agent in March. After spending the first seven years of his career with the Minnesota Vikings, developing into a three-time Pro Bowl selection and even being named First-Team All-Pro in 2017, Rhodes was unceremoniously released by the Vikings earlier this year, and the Colts were more than happy to give him a second shot — and he's made the most of it so far. Could the team try to bring him back in 2021 and beyond? Remember: Kenny Moore II, Rock Ya-Sin and Isaiah Rodgers are locked in for the foreseeable future, too, and 2019 fifth-round pick Marvell Tell III is also set to return next year after deciding to opt out this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And let's not forget versatile veteran T.J. Carrie, who is also set to become a free agent next offseason. Interesting decisions looming at corner for Indy.
Set to become free agents: Malik Hooker, George Odum, Tavon Wilson
• The safety position presents its share of questions heading into the offseason, as well. While starters Khari Willis and Julian Blackmon, who has emerged into one of the top rookie defenders in the NFL the first half of the 2020 season, are certainly locked in for the foreseeable future, three key players at the position in Malik Hooker, George Odum and Tavon Wilson are set to become free agents this offseason. Hooker is sort of in the same camp as Mack at running back; a talented starter coming into the season, do you explore possibly bringing him back into the fold as he works his way back from a torn Achilles? Odum, meanwhile, is a key piece of depth at safety for sure, but he's one of Indy's best special teams contributors, too. Then there's Wilson, who has been a steady veteran presence since being picked up in training camp.
Set to become free agents: N/A
• The Colts are in good shape with their three core special teamers in kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (signed through 2023) and punter Rigoberto Sanchez and long snapper Luke Rhodes (signed through 2024). Both of the team's top returners, Nyheim Hines and Isaiah Rodgers, are also set to return through at least 2021.