What should the Colts’ plan be for Xavier Rhodes and TJ Carrie this offseason?
If the Indianapolis Colts have any hope of advancing beyond the first round of the playoffs in 2021, they’ll need to conduct business as usual in the offseason. For GM Chris Ballard, that means hitting on draft picks and finding steals in free agency and through trades, which he’s grown remarkably accustomed to over his first four seasons at the helm.
Unfortunately for him, however, most of his attention will be centered around addressing the impending key free agents on his current roster. As of this writing, the Colts have a whopping 16 unrestricted FAs, eight or nine of whom are starters and played a significant role this past year.
For the sake of time, let’s keep this particular conversation focused on cornerback tandem Xavier Rhodes and TJ Carrie, both of whom outperformed their respective contracts and would hit the open market if the new league year started today.
In a perfect world, the Colts would re-sign both of these players without batting an eyelash, but it’s simply not going to be that easy … at least not with Rhodes, who really gave them a dominant presence on the perimeter this season.
The 31-year-old started all 16 games and compiled 42 tackles (35 solo), 12 passes defended and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. In doing so, he earned an elite 77.5 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus and was their highest-graded player at the position in the red zone, which proves that he really put an emphasis on keeping receivers out of the end zone.
It remains to be seen how much the Colts are prepared to offer Rhodes, but we would expect him to pursue a reasonably lucrative contract in what will likely be his last chance to do so. The eight-year veteran clearly enjoyed his time in Indianapolis, so perhaps he’ll entertain the possibility of taking a small discount to remain on a contender.
As for Carrie, well, he was absolutely immense for the Colts this season in light of Rock Ya-Sin’s penalty-plagued campaign and Marvell Tell opting out prior to training camp. In 15 games, he racked up 32 tackles, eight passes defended and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a score.
On top of that, Carrie allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete just 57.3% of their passes when targeting him and conceded just a 78.0 passer rating. Both metrics stood as drastic improvements compared to last season. While we know the 30-year-old is a menace in the slot, he was just as dominant against the run, registering an impeccable 90.0 run defense grade from PFF.
Bottom line? We know the Colts have a lot of futures to address this offseason, but keeping Carrie and Rhodes should be at or near the top of their list of priorities. Any losses in the secondary would prove to be costly and they simply cannot let that happen in a quarterback-driven league.