Grover Stewart needs to be a priority for Colts in the offseason

Colts DL Grover Stewart (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Colts DL Grover Stewart (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Colts need to prioritize an extension for DT Grover Stewart in the offseason.

Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard’s body of work can be spotted all over the field on weekends, with names like Darius Leonard, Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith taking the spotlight. While all of those picks have been home runs for the Colts, perhaps what’s more impressive is how well some of the other unheralded selections have panned out.

Look no further than fourth-round gems Nyheim Hines and Grover Stewart, both of whom have played exceptionally well through the first nine games. Given the lack of star power on Indy’s offense and all the high-profile names on the other side of the ball, Hines has garnered more praise than Stewart.

Though we aren’t pitting the two players against each other, Stewart deserves just as much recognition as any player on the team. The 2017 fourth-rounder has been nothing short of dominant against the run this season and the Colts should seriously look to prioritize an extension for him.

The work Stewart put in this offseason — he showed up to training camp in fantastic shape — is paying colossal dividends. He’s currently enjoying a breakout year, racking up 34 tackles (four for loss) and 18 run stops, which is the third-most among interior defenders, according to Pro Football Focus.

Speaking of which, Stewart has earned an elite 73.9 grade from PFF. It obviously doesn’t help the fourth-year pro that he plays on the same front seven that boasts studs like Leonard, Justin Houston and DeForest Buckner, but the numbers prove that he should be mentioned in the conversation as one of the most crucial members of the Colts’ defense.

As far as run-cloggers are concerned, very few in the NFL have been better than the 6-foot-4, 315-pound behemoth, who, as evidenced by this highlight reel stop against Baltimore in Week 9, is incredibly light on his feet for a man his size.

That kind of play deserves to be rewarded with a lucrative extension. Luckily for Stewart, he’s in the final year of his rookie contract, which is paying him $2.13 million this season.

While he shouldn’t necessarily be paid top-of-the-market money, we’d have no qualms with the Colts giving him something along the lines of $8-10 million in terms of annual salary. He’s simply been that essential when it comes to stopping the run.