Unlike the previous few seasons, the Indianapolis Colts have remained silent during free agency but they still have some big holes to fill on the roster.
After winning the 2015 offseason in March, the Colts have decided to take a different tact this season. They have done close to absolutely nothing in free agency, and even let a few key pieces walk away from the team.
Most of this offseason is being dictated to the team by the future contract of Andrew Luck, which at this point has probably grown to a mythical amount of money. But even with that money budgeted aside, the Colts still have enough left to make a signing or two in free agency.
The Colts have a number of positions that have to be addressed not only in the draft, but partially during free agency as well.
- Offensive line. The left side of the line is set, but the Colts need help from center on. Signing a right tackle would make their lives a lot easier along the line. That move would allow Joe Reitz to slide over to right guard and leave the Colts with just the center spot to figure out. (This is assuming the team has gotten better at assessing talent along the line, big if here.)
- Cornerback. Right now the Colts have Vontae Davis at starting CB. That’s it. Darius Butler is not an outside corner, he’s a slot guy. Last year he was a liability when asked to lineup outside. The Colts also have D’Joun Smith, who might as well be a rookie again after missing the vast majority of last season. So many mock drafts have the Colts taking a lineman in the first round, but a corner wouldn’t be surprising at all. They desperately need some depth at the position.
- Inside linebacker. With Jerrell Freeman gone in free agency, the Colts are left with an aging D’Qwell Jackson (who can’t cover) at the position. They have Josh McNary and Nate Irving (who both play a lot like Jackson), but the latter has had health issues the past couple years. Sio Moore struggled to find his way on the field, but certainly has the makings of a good all around linebacker. This isn’t a position the team will address in free agency, and is very high on the draft chart.
All three of those needs could easily be filled with the 18th pick in the first round of the draft. Finding players who might be a stop gap at each spot is certainly a possibility before the draft.
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Cornerback is slightly higher than linebacker for two reasons. One, the lack of depth; and two, because the Colts don’t have a consistent pass rush and need to do a better job covering opponents receivers. The Colts seem to find move value in run stopping thumpers at linebacker, which explains the love for Jackson, Irving, and McNary, and likely means they don’t feel there is as much pressure to find an immediate replacement.
We could also talk about pass rusher, but the free agent market for 3-4 EDGE guys is painfully overpriced and the draft is thin at the position. There is always a chance that an impact player will fall to the Colts at this spot, and they should jump on it should it happen, but it looks like they’ll be relying on another blitz heavy season in 2016.
The Colts aren’t in a bad position by any stretch of the imagination. We can talk about a rebuilding year, but as long as Luck stays upright and healthy the team will be in playoff contention. This past season is completely different if Luck was healthy the entire year.
Every day the market drops a little bit more for free agents and the price tag becomes more affordable for the Colts. In the coming weeks before the draft, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if the team made a number of signings in rapid succession.
For now, fans can sit and watch patiently as the Colts do absolutely nothing.