Colts: Chris Ballard has no choice but to extend Braden Smith in the offseason

Colts RT Braden Smith (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Colts RT Braden Smith (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Colts have every reason to throw OL Braden Smith a contract extension in the offseason.

Though the Indianapolis Colts ultimately got the job done against the Houston Texans and moved into a tie for first place in the AFC South, there admittedly wasn’t a ton for fans to feel great about following the win on Sunday.

They did everything to keep Houston within striking distance and were a Deshaun Watson goal line fumble away from having a mountain of an obstacle to overcome in order to reach the playoffs across the remaining four games.

That mission is obviously far from accomplished, but this was still a huge win and the players who played a major role in that deserve credit. While studs like TY Hilton, Justin Houston and DeForest Buckner (to name a few) will receive most of the plaudits, how about showing some love for offensive lineman Braden Smith?

The 2018 second-round pick has quietly been one of the most dominant tackles in the NFL this season and he moved up Pro Football Focus’ esteemed pecking order after yet another flawless performance vs Houston.

The Colts flaunt one of the best offensive lines in the league and that has unfortunately resulted in somebody like Smith getting grossly overlooked. He missed one game due to injury this season, and has otherwise played 100% of the offensive snaps.

During that span (755 snaps), he’s committed just three penalties and has allowed zero sacks (!) and one QB hit, the latter two of which rank near the top among all tackles. Those otherworldly numbers have seen Smith receive an 81.0 grade from PFF and they prove that he deserves to be recognized as one of the essential members of Indianapolis’ enticing young core.

The Colts have all the tools in place — with a franchise quarterback being the lone exception — to become a legitimate championship contender for the foreseeable future and GM Chris Ballard would be out of his mind to not to ensure that Smith plays an integral role in that success.

We know the 51-year-old executive has to sort out the future of a slew of players on expiring contracts in the offseason. However, Smith’s continued excellence has hopefully made the decision to give him a lucrative contract extension a no-brainer, even though his rookie deal isn’t set to expire until after the 2021 campaign.