The 2021 season has come to an abrupt end. The Colts faltered in their final two games against the Las Vegas Raiders, while also continuing the seven year long losing streak on the road in Jacksonville and finishing the season with a surprising record of 9-8. It is surprising because of the quality of teams the Colts defeated throughout the season, from the San Fransisco 49ers, who are currently in the NFC Championship Game, the Buffalo Bills, who were just involved in a slugfest with a high powered offense in Kansas City. Being almost three weeks removed from the bitter end of our season, it’s time to leave this season in the past and look forward to majorly improving this team moving forward.
General Manager Chris Ballard seems fully intent on making moves that will improve the team moving forward after giving his end of season press conference. A press conference in which he was very critical of virtually every aspect of this current Colts team, holding everyone accountable from the guys on offense to the guys trying to make a name for themselves on special teams. Combine with that constant tweets and videos from Owner Jim Irsay describing his “All Chips In” ultimatum for players currently on the roster and those that may be brought in through free agency starting March 16th, 2022. Those players that are either going to be brought back or brought in from outside to improve the team will be looked at in this article. I will only be focusing on realistic players I see the Colts going after and possibly signing, so I will apologize to all of the Davante Adams lovers; he will not be a part of this list. Although I love the guy as a player, I don’t think the Colts are a realistic spot for him, though I will be more than happy to be proven wrong.
The Colts will enter Free Agency with the 6th most cap space with a total of $40,461,927 (via overthecap.com), giving them plenty of room to potentially sign a healthy mix of short, team friendly deals, as well as two, maybe three somewhat larger contracts. The way it sits right now has 24 players headed towards free agency, most notably including T.Y. Hilton, Eric Fischer, Mark Glowinski, Xavier Rhodes, and Zach Pascal. The most significant needs the Colts should explore in free agency are LT, WR, TE, Pass Rush, and Secondary. Among the guys I would like to see brought back would be; Glowinski, Ashton Dulin, Zaire Franklin, Matt Pryor, and Taylor Stallworth. However, I believe that most of these would only take team friendly deals in the $5-6 million per year range with Glowinski possibly garnering a larger contract even with a lackluster 2022.
The remainder of free agency needs the Colts will fill throughout the vast list of players searching for an opportunity, hungry to prove themselves. Starting with the receivers, there are two names the Colts seem to be linked to, Allen Robinson and Chris Godwin, both of whom the Colts at least were looking at in the previous offseason. Tampa Bay is looking to prioritize the return of Godwin, which makes Allen Robinson the more realistic signing the Colts could make with guys like Ashton Dulin, and Michael Strachan possibly getting more reps in training camp and the regular season. The speedy Braxton Berrios, who could be brought in on a cheap deal, would be my darkhorse or underrated signing the Colts could make.
At the Tight End position, there lies a lot of uncertainty. Mo Alie-Cox is a free agent currently, and Jack Doyle has been mulling over the thought of retirement, leaving Kylen Granson heading into his 2nd as the only Tight End on the active roster. This position is a no-brainer; with the addition of Carson Wentz into the QB position, the Colts looked seriously at bringing in his “security blanket” in Philadelphia, Zach Ertz. At the time, the Eagles were not interested in letting go of the Pro Bowl Tight End until he was granted a trade where he played out the rest of the season in Arizona with the Cardinals. I see Ertz rejoining Wentz in Indianapolis on a reasonable 1 or 2 year deal.
As far as defense goes, multiple guys would fit the pass rush need for the Colts. The most notable that come to mind that would be a steal on the pass rush front would be Emmanuel Ogbah from Miami and former Colt Jerry Hughes currently on Buffalo. The veteran additions of either Hughes or Ogbah would bolster a pass rush front that includes rookies Dayo Odeyingbo, Kwity Paye, and big veteran DeForest Buckner up the middle. In the secondary, however, the list is smaller regarding realistic free agent signings, the most realistic being the re-signing of Xavier Rhodes at corner. Like Left Tackle, Corner and Safety are positions I see the Colts filling throughout the draft.
Overall I think this will be a much different looking free agency for the Colts, with the GM and Owner seemingly signaling a more aggressive approach. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise if we see the Colts being more active than ever in free agency, and let us not rule out the possibility for any trades that could come from this more aggressive approach. The fun begins March 16th, 2022!