INDIANAPOLIS – One thing we know for sure about the Indianapolis Colts and the start of Free Agency in Week 17 is that the Colts are a team that has a lot going for them. March is going to be that they won’t be looking for a starting quarterback.
The Colts will officially acquire Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles next week. Despite the hype of what he hopes to bring to the field, Indianapolis can’t yet be considered a Super Bowl contender.
The Colts should have about $72.9 million of the total. According to Roster’s management system, the Jacksonville Jaguars are the second highest ranked team with $8,000. They have the potential to make a run in the AFC, but only after addressing some obvious needs, like pass-rusher and receiver. The Colts are also expected to replace retired left tackle Anthony Castonzo. (Guard Quenton Nelson is a wild card, as the Colts haven’t ruled out moving him forward to replace Castonzo).
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The Colts are unlikely to fill all of these positions in free agency. You can do this through trades, draft picks, or by filling certain areas with players currently on the roster.
One thing to keep in mind about general manager Chris Ballard when it comes to free agency: He is more inclined to spend money. Ballard generally prefers that players who are out of their element sign their big contract first, before they start doing business.
During his end-of-season press conference in January, Ballard said he was more open to bringing in players who had had problems in the past because of the strong locker room culture the organization has built. He also prefers young players who still have plenty of room to grow, although he has also lured older veterans like Justin Houston and Philip Rivers in the past.
Here are the Colts’ top needs and the free agents they can fill.
Left hand grip
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Tuni became available after the Patriots decided not to tag him. He spent the first four years of his career at left guard before switching to tackle last season. That would give the Colts the option of moving Nelson to the backfield or keeping him there and leaving Thuney in the backfield. Tuney never missed a game and started all 80 games of his NFL career. But the price will probably be high.
Williams is the best tackle on the market. He started 14 games for the 49ers last season and missed the 2019 season due to issues with the Washington football team. Williams could easily slide to the left tackle position, leaving Nelson at guard. Two things that could keep Ballard from going to Williams are his age (33) and the fact that he hasn’t played all 16 games in a season since 2013.
Other: Alejandro Villanueva, Russell Okung, Kelvin Beachum
Through the pinch
Bud Dupree had eight sacks and two forced fumbles in 11 games before suffering an injury that ended the season. AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
As with Tooney, the Steelers decided not to put their franchise on the line for Dupree. Dupree is exactly what the Colts need: a young baseball player. He has 19.5 sacks since the start of the 2019 season, despite missing five games last season with a torn ACL. The Colts could lose Justin Houston (8 sacks) and Denico Autry (7.5 sacks) in free agency. Dupree’s price can’t be that high because he’s coming off an injury.
Barrett was unable to replicate his season of 19.5 sacks in 2019, but was still productive with eight sacks and 11 tackles for loss for the Super Bowl champions. It will be interesting to see how teams evaluate him as a free agent, as he suffered a drop in sacks last season.
Other: Yannick Ngakoue, Trey Hendrickson, Haason Reddick, Leonard Floyd, Carl Lawson.
Jiu Jiu Smith-Cobbler
Smith-Schuster is suitable for young and talented people. He was poised to become one of the league’s top receivers, as he had 111 receptions and 1,426 yards in his second season in 2018. But then his production dropped to 552 yards (in 12 games) and 831 yards in the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Golladay went from two consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons, including leading the NFL in touchdown receptions (11) in 2019, to a 338-yard reception in 2020 after the Lions’ decision not to use the franchise tag on him. At the beginning of last season, Golladay suffered a hamstring injury, then a hamstring injury that forced him to miss 11 games.
Other: Nelson Agholor, Corey Davis, A.J. Green, Curtis Samuel, Will Fuller V.
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