Colts: Zach Pascal’s huge raise could be sign of things to come
The Indianapolis Colts managed to retain wide receiver Zach Pascal this offseason, as the former Old Dominion product has apparently impressed Frank Reich and Chris Ballard.
Instead of playing top-end money for one of the better free agents on the market, Indy chose to retain Pascal on a tender and hope for continued growth.
Alongside TY Hilton, who also returned to Indianapolis this offseason, and Michael Pittman Jr., Pascal recorded 44 catches for 629 yards with five touchdowns.
His size made him a nice change of pace for Philip Rivers and that offense and a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses that were short on defensive backs.
Pascal was getting paid peanuts last season, though that was a byproduct of going undrafted and having claw his way onto the Indianapolis roster. Over the course of the season, though, proved that he was worth a much higher price tag — and his checks bear it out.
Pascal made the league minimum when he broke into the league, but he accumulated so much performance-based incentive pay that he made just under $2 million last season, accounting for a nearly 71% increase. After getting a second-round tender placed on him, Pascal will be able to finally start making money commensurate with his play on the field.
As the GM himself put it:
"“Show up and continue to produce. That’s all he does,” Ballard said. “Every quarterback that’s had him loved him. Andrew (Luck) loved him, Jacoby (Brissett) loved him, Philip (Rivers). Every quarterback he’s had.”"
Zach Pascal will play a huge role in the Colts’ plans for 2021.
Pascal doesn’t have Hilton’s speed or Pittman’s verticality, but he is a reliable presence over the middle that catches whatever is thrown to him. On a team that has not upgraded the tight end position, Pascal could easily see an increased role on the offensive end as a result of this philosophy change.
Pascal has already led the Colts in receiving yards, stepping up in 2019 after Hilton, Parris Campbell, and Devin Funchess all missed large chunks of the season due to injuries. The Colts are living and dying by Wentz’s arm next year, which means that Pascal will get plenty of opportunities to show that his uptick in production is sustainable.
With new OC Marcus Brady taking over, the chance for Pascal to have his best season is as strong as ever. For better or worse, Carson Wentz developed a habit of giving his receivers chances to make plays on 50-50 balls.
If Pascal is able to flex his ability to make catches in traffic, much like Alshon Jeffery did for Wentz in Philadelphia, the two could quickly establish chemistry and become one of the more underrated receiving connections in the league.