The Colts should prioritize Xavier Rhodes in free agency — but he might have other plans.
Coming off a subpar end to his Vikings tenure, Xavier Rhodes joined the Colts this offseason hoping to change his personal trajectory heading into the back nine of his career (football goes by quickly!).
Luckily for the 30-year-old, he now heads into free agency on an extended high note.
Matt Eberflus’ defense was a perfect fit for Rhodes nine times out of ten this season, and the former first-rounder brought both veteran leadership and a very specific set of skills to the Colts’ backfield.
He especially beasted in the red zone, the underrated part of the field that often allowed Indy to stay in several squeakers (and helped him clean up Rock Ya-Sin’s mistakes — shh, we won’t tell anyone).
But, although the Colts have more cap space than any of their competitors, should we be worried about Rhodes jumping ship this offseason?
Thanks to a potential departure — no, not Eberflus — fans in Indy might have to cross their fingers.
Jonathan Gannon, a defensive coordinator of the future somewhere whether it happens this year or next, was among the loudest voices in the room in terms of both importing Rhodes and coaching him up in 2020.
Now, he might be headed to the Bears, interviewing for the promotion every defensive-minded position coach eyes. Will Rhodes follow?
The Colts had better hope not; even with a lot of cash to work with, there are very few effective cornerback replacements on the free agent market in the same tier.
And plus, who wants to take a strength and weaken it while spraying cash around in other areas of need? Patrick Peterson for ~$14 million or a regressing Jason McCourty don’t exactly seem like valuable alternative gambles.
Meanwhile, the Bears remain a team perpetually stuck in between, and could stand to improve essentially every unit on the field. With a franchise-changing hole at quarterback, they might not be keen on tossing money at the secondary, either.
But what if Rhodes chooses to play follow the leader with Gannon at a discount?
Indy will put on a front and applaud their DBs coach if he receives a promotion, but they’ll also be working hard behind the scenes to make sure Rhodes knows he’s being taken care of.