Which Colts free agents are most important to re-sign this off-season?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 01: Adam Vinatieri #4 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts to having his field goal attempt blocked during the first quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 1, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 01: Adam Vinatieri #4 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts to having his field goal attempt blocked during the first quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 1, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /
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Clayton Geathers, S ***

2019 Season Statistics:

  • 15 games played (10 starts)
  • 1 interception, 1 pass defended
  • 48 total tackles, 1 tackle for loss

Geathers had a consistent season in 2019, playing in the most games since his rookie season (15) and started the most amount of games in his career (10). Geathers slowed was worked out of the starting rotation in favor of rookie Khari Willis.

Both safeties played off-and-on through the 2019 season, however, with the favoring of Willis starting opposite of Hooker towards the end of the season, Geathers will most likely re-sign with the team next season for a backup role behind Willis. It’s an important signing for the team based on the struggles that the team had in the secondary last season; Geathers will definitely be able to compete for a job by the start of training camp.

Joe Haeg, T/G ***

2019 Season Statistics:

  • 16 games played (0 Starts)
  • 0 penalties committed

Joe Haeg served as a reserve in 2019 behind tackles Braden Smith and Mark Glowinski. He was active in all 16 games this past season, playing in all of them and starting none. Haeg has been with the team and was a starter in both 2016 and 2017, as well as 6 of the 8 games he played last season.

Haeg’s role decreased this season, however, it is a key reserve signing for Ballard and the Colts due to the trust they have in him and the consistency he showed as a starter previously. Expect Haeg to return to the team next season in a reserve role.

Chester Rogers, WR/KR ***

2019 Season Statistics:

  • 12 games played (6 Starts)
  • 16 receptions, 179 yards, 2 touchdowns
  • 14 wunt returns, 137 return yards, 0 touchdowns
  • Placed on IR after Week 13

Rogers was a key cog in both the offense and special teams before getting injured in Week 13 versus Tennessee. He was one of the top three receiving targets for Jacoby Brissett and was a dynamic returner on special teams. He, although not being overly productive in 2019, showed a major amount of promise the year before.

He totaled 53 receptions for 485 yards and 2 touchdowns in 16 games (10 starts). He also finished with 23 punt returns for 215 yards. That was good for 9th in average yards per punt return (9.3). Expect Rogers to return next season as he is healthy and ready to produce on offense and on special teams.

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Devin Funchess, WR ****

2019 Season Statistics:

  • 1 game played (1 start)
  • 3 receptions, 32 yards, 0 touchdowns
  • Placed on IR after week 1

Funchess was barely a factor in 2019; he broke his clavicle in Week 1 and was placed on IR for the entire season. Before this, Funchess was slated to be the answer to the Colts’ lack of a number two WR opposite of TY Hilton. For evidence, his only full season, in 2017, amounted to 840 yards and 8 touchdowns on 63 catches.

Ballard has trust in Funchess, as he and DE Justin Houston remain to be the GM’s only big free agent signings in three years. With Funchess’ track record and Houston’s success, it’s safe to say that Ballard trusts Funchess to produce the same number he did in Carolina. Because he hasn’t had much time to prove anything to anyone, it’s expected that Funchess will return to the team, possibly on a one-year deal.

Jabaal Sheard, DE ****

2019 Season Statistics:

  • 13 games played (12 starts, first game in week 4)
  • 25 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 9 QB hits

There has been some speculation that Sheard might not return to the team next year in favor of giving younger players some experience (i.e. Tyquan Lewis and Kemoko Turay). Sheard’s veteran presence for the defensive lineman group in Indianapolis has proven to be a bonus for the development of its young players.

He has totaled 15.5 sacks in his three seasons with the team and 127 total tackles. Although not extremely dominant, Sheard is still a key signing for the Colts going into next season, as his consistency and veteran presence will do nothing but give aid in developing the young lineman.

Anthony Castonzo, OT *****

2019 Season Statistics:

  • 16 games played (16 starts)
  • 2 total penalties

Castonzo is undoubtedly the most important signing for the Colts. He is the longest-tenured offensive lineman for the team and the most talented tackle on the team. He has started in every game he has played in during his 9-year career.

What sets him apart from most tackles in the league is his consistency throughout each season. Most tackles have plenty of ups-and-downs as their careers move along; Castonzo is one of the only players at his position to remain a productive starter in his entire playing career.

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The 31-year-old’s pending decision to either remain with the team or retire has been a major topic of conversation as this past season has been winding down. If he does decide to retire, the free-agent decisions on Le’Raven Clark and Joe Haeg will become much more important, as will the need to possibly draft a tackle in this year’s draft. Castonzo is loved by the organization; the team will do whatever they can to bring him back; however, that is purely up to the feelings of the Pro-Bowl Caliber offensive tackle.