TJ Carrie’s effectiveness in slot should earn him an extension from Colts

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 12: T.J. Carrie #38 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 12: T.J. Carrie #38 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Colts cornerback TJ Carrie’s dominance in the slot this season might be enough to earn him a contract extension.

Given the Indianapolis Colts’ star power on defense, numerous members of the group have been overlooked this season despite exceeding expectations. Look no further than defensive tackle Grover Stewart and backup cornerback TJ Carrie, both of whom have proven to be every bit as important as players not named Darius Leonard or DeForest Buckner.

Since we’ve already acknowledged Stewart’s contributions, it’s only fair that we do the same for Carrie, who was nothing short of sensational against the Titans in Week 10 after Kenny Moore exited early with a rib injury.

We’ll dive into his performance a little later. For now, however, his dominance in the slot deserves to be commended because Indianapolis struggled mightily in that department last season when Moore missed time down the stretch with an ankle injury. From Weeks 13-17, opposing quarterbacks completed 43 passes for 395 yards, four touchdowns and 20 first downs when targeting the slot against the Colts.

In the simplest of terms, Carrie has been a revelation in that regard in 2020, surrendering just one reception for five yards and limiting gunslingers to a 42.3 QBR. Those numbers are ridiculous and should earn the seven-year pro a contract extension in the offseason.

Carrie signed a one-year, $1.04 million deal with Indianapolis back in March and has vastly outperformed his earnings. We know that GM Chris Ballard will have other offseason priorities — like signing/trading for a quarterback and addressing the futures of impending free agents Justin Houston, Xavier Rhodes and Stewart (among others) — but we see nothing wrong with offering him two-year deal worth a little more than his measly 2020 salary.

Given Moore’s proneness to injury — he’ll now have missed time in three straight seasons — and how inept the Colts were at defending the slot while he was sidelined in 2019, Carrie has quietly emerged as an invaluable piece of the defense.

The 31-year-old logged his highest snap share (49%) since Week 3 on Thursday night and to say he answered the call would be an understatement. For the game, he conceded one reception on four targets and broke up two passes for an opponent passer rating of 39.6. He even recovered  EJ Speed’s blocked punt and returned it for a touchdown.

Carrie has always been a solid player, but he’s taken his game to new heights in the Colts’ zone-oriented scheme, surrendering just four receptions on 11 targets (36.3%) through eight games, which has seen him earn an elite 77.2 grade from Pro Football Focus.

We’re honestly not sure what more Ballard and head coach Frank Reich need to see. When lined up in the slot, Carrie has opposing wide receivers on an island, and his production should no doubt be rewarded with a new contract.