While it’s understandable that fans are calling for major upgrades on offense, the defense isn’t getting nearly as much attention as it should.
After all, a handful of key contributors are slated to hit the open market, creating real concerns in the secondary and on the defensive line.
It might sound ridiculous that a DL with studs like DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart manning the interior could be in trouble, but the fact that both of the unit’s starting edge rushers (Justin Houston and Denico Autry) are set to hit the open market should sound the Colts’ alarm system.
And plus, when given the chance to get better and turn a unit from “great” to “dominant”…why not do so?
While Buckner understandably garnered most of the plaudits for his overall effectiveness pressuring opposing quarterbacks and clogging holes, Houston and Autry’s contributions in the pass-rushing department were grossly overlooked.
Recent buzz indicates the Colts are interested in re-signing Houston, but that could change in a heartbeat if another team steps up and offers him a lucrative deal.
With all of this in mind, let’s highlight three free agent edge rushers Indy should prioritize this offseason.
The Colts should prioritize these three pass rushing free agents.
3. Romeo Okwara
The Colts should pursue Romeo Okwara now that he’s become a free agent.
The defensive end market became even more loaded this week when the Detroit Lions opted against using the franchise tag on Romeo Okwara, who enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2020, recording 44 tackles (11 for loss), 10 sacks, 18 QB hits, 31 pressures and three forced fumbles despite starting just nine games and playing 67% of the defensive snaps.
Taking those numbers into consideration, plus the fact that there are numerous teams in need of pass rushing reinforcements, Okwara will likely ink a sizable contract this offseason. At the very least, the five-year pro will have several offers to consider, and the Colts should absolutely be in the mix to land his signature.
The fact that Okwara produced Pro Bowl-worthy statistics while working on one of the least efficient defensive lines in the league suggests he could take his game to a whole new level playing alongside the likes of Buckner and Stewart, who regularly command double teams.
We all know how much name appeal factors in to free agency, right? Well, the fact that Okwara isn’t a household name and probably falls in the second tier of free agent defensive ends really makes you wonder if Indy could land him at a discount compared to somebody like JJ Watt, who went for $31 million over two years, including $23 million guaranteed.
Whatever the case, the long-armed Okwara makes too much sense for the Colts and their defensive scheme for the front office to worry about signing him at the perfect price.