The Indianapolis Colts had a bounty of impact players from 2020 slated to become free agents entering the offseason.
Given their need to extend certain homegrown stars, they were never going to be able to retain everyone.
That’s really unfortunate for GM Chris Ballard, who’s been outspoken about wanting to maintain consistency and stability on the roster.
Though a handful of former Colts (including Anthony Walker and Jacoby Brissett) have signed elsewhere in free agency, no departure has stung more thus far than Denico Autry, who inked a three-year, $21.5 million deal with the division-rival Tennessee Titans.
Despite their shortcomings at defensive end, Indianapolis never seemed incentivized to re-sign Autry this offseason.
As it turns out, the seven-year pro is taking that personally, because he sounded off on the Colts and what they brought (or didn’t bring) to the table with their offer.
These quotes prove Denico Autry is taking his Colts departure personally.
"“That makes it real personal. They knew what they had. It is what it is,” Autry told reporters about why he left Indy. “I just like what (the Titans) have going on here. And I wanted to be a part of that. Actually, to tell you the truth, someone saw my worth, and that’s really why I chose the Titans.”"
The shots, indeed, have been fired by Autry, who was clearly insulted by the the Colts’ reported efforts to convince him to stay. It remains to be seen what Ballard and Co. offered the former undrafted talent, and we’ll likely never know the full details, but this quote confirms it was well below the baseline he and his representatives set before free agency.
We doubt Indianapolis’ alleged lowball offer to Autry was personal, but it admittedly isn’t a great look for the front office that he felt compelled to berate them publicly. After all, he was incredibly productive for the Colts over his three-year stint, appearing in 40 of a possible 48 games, while recording 102 tackles (26 for loss), 20.5 sacks, 32 QB hits, 57 pressures and three forced fumbles.
Lost in those numbers is the fact that Autry enjoyed his best season as a pro in 2020, setting career-highs in quarterback hurries (12) and pressures (22), while only trailing the likes of DeForest Buckner and Justin Houston for the team lead in sacks.
Perhaps the 30-year-old’s most underrated trait is his consistency, as he generated at least 10 quarterback hits and 17 or more pressures in each of his three seasons in Indy. If you asked us, we’d say those statistics earned Autry a reasonably lucrative extension with the Colts.
We like to believe Ballard made him the highest-possible offer — while keeping in mind that he needs to preserve money for extensions, of course — but the veteran edge rusher’s comments really have us itching to know the full details of the proposal.
Whatever the case, the Colts’ offensive line better be prepared to handle Autry in their two meetings with Tennessee next season, because he clearly has a colossal chip on his shoulder.