Colts GM Chris Ballard would be smart to explore Bud Dupree’s market in the offseason.
The Indianapolis Colts’ playoff campaign ended a lot sooner than fans would’ve liked after their gutting first-round exit, but there’s still plenty of reason for them to be intrigued as the offseason, specifically their laundry list of free agents, will present a bounty of obstacles for the front office.
If the new league year started today, Indy would have about eight or nine key players from this past season scheduled to hit the open market. Two of those players are edge rushing tandem Justin Houston and Denico Autry, both of whom ranked second and third on the team in sacks and QB hits.
It remains to be seen if GM Chris Ballard is keen on re-signing either of them, but an executive of his prestige will certainly have a contingency plan or two in place. If we had a say in the matter, we would urge him to look to capitalize on defensive end Bud Dupree’s market following his season-ending injury.
Playing for a new contract after being franchise-tagged last offseason, Dupree was on pace to set career-highs across the board before suffering a torn ACL in Week 11. Prior to that, he was making a strong case to become one of the highest-paid pass rushers in the league, racking up 31 tackles, eight sacks, 15 QB hits, 27 pressures two forced fumbles and two passes defended.
Taking the injury into consideration, however, you have to think that potential free agency suitors will be hesitant with giving Dupree a lucrative contract. ACL injuries aren’t what they once were in terms of recovery and career outlook, but for a player who relies so much on his speed and explosiveness off the edge, it’s definitely something to be concerned about.
With that in mind, it would behoove Ballard to explore Dupree’s market and see what other teams are offering him. If they’re still willing to give him a monster deal, then he would obviously pull himself out of negotiations and pursue alternative options.
If not, however, he could fall right into the Colts’ rice range. Indianapolis is currently projected to have over $60 million in cap space and should have more than enough left over to throw around after you account for potential extensions and re-signings.