INDIANAPOLIS — The primary player-adding portions of the NFL offseason have now come and past, as the high-surf waves of free agency, and now the 2020 NFL Draft, are finished.
Now we've reached the point in the offseason in which front offices keep tabs on the rest of the league, trimming their 90-man rosters and adding players at a modest rate in order to improve their lineups.
For most teams, they've done their part to try and address their team's biggest needs, whether it was through spending in free agency, or in the draft.
The Indianapolis Colts didn't have any dire needs when the offseason began, but they did have some areas to address. They've done a good job tending to those needs, whether it was by re-signing their own talent or bringing in competition for certain position groups.
As we sit here at the beginning of May, right before rookie minicamps could get started leaguewide (even if in a virtual format), the Colts do not have any pressing needs. There are certain things that need to be addressed at all times, like making sure you've got depth on the offensive and defensive lines, as well as solid backup plans at critical positions like quarterback. However, the front office has put the team in position to not immediately need anything at a starting level.
Anything the Colts do need is current depth or for future purposes, as they've got quite a haul of potential 2021 free agents. Here's a comprehensive look at what "needs" the Indy roster could address from this point forward.
*Positions of need are listed in depth chart order. Contract information gathered from OverTheCap.com.
OFFENSIVE LINE DEPTH
Under contract in 2020:
- OT — Anthony Castonzo, Braden Smith, Le'Raven Clark, Cedrick Lang, Andrew Donnal, Travis Vornkahl, Brandon Hitner | IOL — Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski, Jake Eldrenkamp, Danny Pinter, Javon Patterson, Chaz Green, Carter O'Donnell
- Additions — Danny Pinter, Carter O'Donnell | Departures — Joe Haeg (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Josh Andrews (New York Jets)
The Colts' starting five offensive linemen return once again this year, so that's settled. They did lose their sixth offensive lineman in Joe Haeg to free agency, but Le'Raven Clark and rookie fifth-round pick Danny Pinter appear to be the ones who could fill that role moving forward. Likewise, losing the interior depth from Josh Andrews can be filled by Jake Eldrenkamp and second-year player Javon Patterson, who missed his rookie season in 2019 with an ACL injury.
"I mean, Eldrenkamp who we like, who's back. We've signed some other guys. As you know, Le'Raven Clark is back – he's played a lot of football," Colts general manager Chris Ballard told reporters about the team's offensive line depth after Day 2 of the draft. "So that's something we'll continue to look at. We'll see if we address it tomorrow, and if we don't, there's still a lot of time between now and the season."
The Colts did "address it tomorrow" when they drafted Pinter and then signed highly-rated Canadian prospect Carter O'Donnell as an undrafted free agent. Still, it wouldn't hurt to get one more backup offensive lineman with NFL experience before the season begins, as Clark, Eldrenkamp, Ryan Kelly, Cedrick Lang, Andrew Donnal, Chaz Green, Travis Vornkahl and Brandon Hitner are all set to become free agents next March.
DEFENSIVE END DEPTH
Under contract in 2020:
- Justin Houston, Kemoko Turay, Ben Banogu, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Gerri Green, Jegs Jegede, Kendall Coleman
- Additions — Kendall Coleman | Departures — Jabaal Sheard
Like the offensive line, you can never have too many defensive linemen in a four-man attacking scheme like the Colts'.
Jabaal Sheard started on the edge for the Colts for the last few years, but remains an unsigned free agent. His ability to provide pressure as well as maintain the edge in the run game will be missed. However, the Colts do have options. Justin Houston could feasibly move over to that spot, with Al-Quadin Muhammad as the next man up. Meanwhile, Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu can take over at right end. Both Denico Autry and Tyquan Lewis can play both end and tackle and provide depth and a spark outside in certain packages.
"Look, Denico, Muhammad – I mean I love Denico and I love Muhammad. We've still got Turay. We've still got Banogu. It's a good group. We've still got Tyquan. I like our front," Ballard said about the Colts defensive end group. "We've got young players and they've got to come on. We drafted them for a reason. Let's see them play and come on. All of them have played pretty good football in spurts. Now we've got to get them to do it a little more consistently. We like their talent and we like our defensive line. We think we've got a good group."
The Colts are built excellently in the middle with Autry, Lewis, DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart and Sheldon Day, but defensive end could possibly use one more guy as well to help make up for the loss of Sheard. The Colts signed Kendall Coleman as an undrafted free agent, and he was very draftable. He is also a protege of Colts pass-rush consultant Robert Mathis, so he could become a possible depth piece as well.
Houston, Muhammad and Gerri Green are all set to become free agents next offseason.
Under contract in 2020:
- WR — T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Parris Campbell, Michael Pittman Jr., Marcus Johnson, Daurice Fountain, Ashton Dulin, Chad Williams, Dezmon Patmon, Artavis Scott, Malik Henry, Rodney Adams, DeMichael Harris | TE — Jack Doyle, Trey Burton, Mo Alie-Cox, Xavier Grimble, Ian Bunting, Matt Lengel, Farrod Green
- Additions — Michael Pittman Jr., Trey Burton, Dezmon Patmon, Rodney Adams, DeMichael Harris, Farrod Green | Departures — Eric Ebron (Pittsburgh Steelers), Devin Funchess (Green Bay Packers), Dontrelle Inman, Chester Rogers, Steve Ishmael, Billy Brown
The Colts are actually pretty well set at receiver and tight end on paper right now after acquiring Michael Pittman Jr, Dezmon Patmon and Trey Burton over the last couple of weeks, but that could be a much different story next March when 2021 free agency begins.
Burton, T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal and Mo Alie-Cox are all in the final years of their contracts, as are depth pieces Marcus Johnson, Daurice Fountain, Ashton Dulin, Chad Williams, Xavier Grimble, Artavis Scott, Malik Henry, Ian Bunting and Matt Lengel.
That would leave the Colts in 2021 with only Pittman Jr., Patmon, Jack Doyle and Parris Campbell among those who are under contract now. Two of the four are brand new rookies, and injuries limited Campbell to just half of his rookie season last year.