As the draft came to a close this past weekend, many have discussed what the Colts will do at the wide receiver position now that they came away from the draft with only one more receiver in Alec Pierce. Undoubtedly, the Colts’ receiver situation is much better now that they have drafted Alec Pierce. I think Alec can easily be the second-best wide receiver on the team by the end of next season, and I really like what his addition meant for the Colts.
Some have speculated that the Colts need to add a slot receiver since they don’t have an apparent option specializing in that spot. However, I think the Colts could add a receiver who plays more on the outside and let Alec Pierce play as a big slot receiver at times. We know how much Colts Head Coach Frank Reich loves to move his players around the field and how he can creatively get the most out of his wide receiver groups.
Whoever the Colts decide to add will probably be relied upon early in the season, with Alec Pierce transitioning to the NFL. We also know that the Colts tend to slowly incorporate their young offensive players into their offense. We saw this with Michael Pittman Jr. in his rookie season when Frank Reich really increased his involvement in the offense halfway through the season.
In this article, I will examine some receivers who are more perimeter types and some slot receiver types who make sense for the Indianapolis Colts.
Option #1: Jarvis Landry
I think Jarvis Landry fits the Colts’ offense like a glove. He is a receiver who can play both from the slot and on the outside. I think Frank Reich would love to have him on the Colts because Frank Reich loves versatile receivers, and that is exactly what Jarvis Landry is. Jarvis Landry would be a great mentor for the young wide receivers in the Colts’ wide receiver room, and he would give the Colts a guy who gives you instant production on day 1. In addition, having Reggie Wayne and Jarvis Landry gives Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce, and the rest of the young receivers on the team insight into the nuances of the position. I think this would only aid their development.
Signing Jarvis Landry would take the pressure off of Alec Pierce to produce on day 1, and he would bring an alpha mentality to the receiver room. If Jarvis Landry does not want to return to Cleveland, the Colts should be blowing up his phone and his agent’s phone multiple times a day to get a deal done. He would make the Colts better in a variety of ways.
2021 key stats (via Pro Football Reference): 12 games played, 52 receptions, 570 receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns
Option #2: Emmanuel Sanders
At 35 years old, Emmanuel Sanders would be entering his 14th season if he decides to play another season. However, he is another option that provides the Colts with the versatility to play from the slot and outside. Last season, Sanders was a very productive receiver for the Buffalo Bills and showed no signs of slowing down. He would provide the Colts a cheaper option and would likely come on a short-term deal, which allows the Colts flexibility if they decide they would like to draft another receiver next season.
He also played with Peyton Manning in Denver, who we know still talks to Colts Owner Jim Irsay frequently and has kept a good relationship with him. Why is that important? Peyton Manning was the one who told Jim Irsay they should look at Matt Ryan and obviously has the ears of the Colts owner. If Emmanuel Sanders wanted to play in Indianapolis, I am sure Peyton Manning could make it happen.
I think the Colts should do everything to get this done if Jarvis Landry doesn’t want to be in Indianapolis.
2021 key stats (via Pro Football Reference): 14 games played, 42 receptions, 626 Yards, and 4 touchdowns
Option #3: Keelan Cole
On March 7th, a couple of weeks before the Matt Ryan Trade happened, I had written an article about the five best free agent WR fits for the Colts. I thought there was no way he would be available after the draft. I figured someone would sign him for cheap right before the draft to bolster the depth of their wide receiver group. As it turns out, I was wrong, and Keelan Cole is still available to sign if the Colts are interested.
While he is not of the same caliber as the two options I listed above, I really like what Keelan Cole can provide for a team. He is a decent route runner who gets after it as a run blocker. In addition, Cole is a reliable receiving option with deep-threat ability. For the Colts, he would come in and be a solid third or fourth receiving option for a team that could use a little more experience in its receiving room.
Keelan Cole strikes me as a player that wants to win. Cole has spent his career with the Jaguars and Jets and would likely be ok with sacrificing his role if he got the opportunity to win. After all, he hasn’t experienced the playoffs since 2017, during his rookie season.
2021 key stats (via Pro Football Reference): 15 games played, 28 receptions, 449 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown
Option #4: Julio Jones
At this point, I don’t think you can go without mentioning Julio Jones when it comes to available receiving options for the Indianapolis Colts. He played his first ten seasons in the NFL with new Colts Quarterback Matt Ryan, and the two remained close even when Julio Jones got traded to Tennessee. While he struggled last year in Tennessee, I think he did flash his ability at times last season. If you follow me on Twitter @ZschankISN, you have probably seen me clown the Titans for giving up what they did to acquire Julio Jones. However, I think he can be a productive veteran receiving option for Indianapolis.
The concern for bringing him in for me is that he hasn’t been very healthy lately, and he isn’t getting any younger. He has played a lot of high-level football in his 11 years in the NFL. As a result, he has a lot of tread on his body, especially considering his style of play over the years. However, if the Colts can keep him healthy, they could have an exciting receiving group because Julio Jones is 6’3, Alec Pierce is 6’3, and Michael Pittman Jr. is 6’4. Theoretically, Frank Reich could deploy all three receivers at the same time. Frank Reich could also deploy 6’7 tight end Jelani Woods on the field or 6’5 tight end Mo Alie Cox on the field with them. If the Colts wanted to create a nightmarish situation for defenses, that would be the way to go.
Not to mention, Julio Jones and Matt Ryan have a lot of built-up chemistry as they played ten years together, which shouldn’t be taken lightly when looking at Julio Jones as an option for the Colts. If this is the route the Colts decided to go, I would not mind at all.
2021 key stats (via Pro Football Reference): 10 games played, 31 receptions, 434 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown.
Option #5: Cole Beasley
Cole Beasley is the definition of consistency in the NFL. One of the few wide receiver options obtainable that the Colts can rely on to be available and to produce on day 1. Although he is getting up there in age, I think he can still be productive. Cole Beasley would not have the versatility that Head Coach Frank Reich usually wants in his receivers, but I think he is a decent slot receiver. I don’t think he would cost a lot, and I think he would ultimately make the Colts better.
The Colts would have to decide whether the off-the-field headlines would be worth it with this signing, but I think he makes a lot of sense to bring to Indy from a football perspective. It was only just two years ago when he was nearly a 1000-yard receiver in Buffalo. Players like that are rarely available after the draft. Cole Beasley still had a good season last year in Buffalo, and I think he could be worth adding.
2021 key stats (via Pro Football Reference): 16 games played, 82 receptions, 693 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown
Bonus! Option #6: Marquise Goodwin
A player that doesn’t get mentioned a lot when considering potential free-agent Wide Receiver options for the Colts, I think Marquise Goodwin could be a fun veteran signing in free agency for the Colts. Goodwin is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball, an Olympian athlete, and a really solid veteran player in the NFL. In addition, I think Goodwin has the versatility that Frank Reich craves in a wide receiver. He can play inside in the slot or on the outside.
At this stage in his career, I think Goodwin is probably more than fine with being a 3rd or 4th best wide receiver on a good team, and I don’t think he would cost much. For the value he provides, I think he adds an interesting element to the Colts’ offense. I think he is a player that is definitely worth looking into if you are Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts.
2021 key stats (via Pro Football Reference): 14 games played, 20 receptions, 313 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown
If you haven’t noticed, there is a giant elephant in the room I haven’t addressed. Actually, he’s not that big, but T.Y. Hilton is someone I didn’t list as a wide receiver option in this article. I think it is time for both sides to move on, and I think it may be time for Hilton to hang the cleats up and call it a career. He was a great player for the Colts, but all good things must end eventually. I think the Colts have plenty of solid veteran wide receiver options available to them who can come in and contribute on day 1.
Every player I have listed would help the Colts make it back to the playoffs and perhaps help them win a playoff game. Colts fans should feel really optimistic about where their team is right now and where it is headed. Next year will be fun, and I can’t wait for football season to arrive.