1. Malik Hooker
If the Colts trust Julian Blackmon, Malik Hooker can definitely be traded.
Malik Hooker is out to prove the Colts and all the doubters wrong. The former 2017 first-round pick had his name floated in trade rumors this offseason and then saw the team decline his fifth-year option for 2021. There’s no questioning his talent, but his health has been a concern.
That’s a lot of stuff to juggle. Entering a contract year with that kind of ongoing tension with your employer (though Hooker has stated there are no hard feelings and he’s ready to get to work) is never easy. The Colts honestly might be better off finding him a new home (the Cleveland Browns are a perfect fit!) before the season starts.
If the Colts trust 2020 third-round pick Julian Blackmon out of Utah to seamlessly transition to the NFL (and it seems like they do), then when he returns from knee surgery in the coming weeks, he can step in and start getting big reps right from the get-go. If the Colts want to wait and ease him in, they’d still have Khari Willis and Tavon Wilson ready to start.
Though Indy would get less value in a trade for Hooker after declining his fifth-year option (which was only $6.7 million), he could still perhaps fetch a fourth- or fifth-rounder given what he’s been able to prove since debuting three years ago. He’s got seven picks and two fumble recoveries in 34 games. Forcing turnovers is big for the safety position.
So if Ballard really wants, he can turn the “roster crunch” into a hoard of draft picks for 2021 and beyond. It could prove to be prudent given the talent and depth the Colts possess at the moment.