The Indianapolis Colts’ conservative approach to free agency has left them with gaping holes at the defensive end and left tackle positions, which have garnered the most attention among pundits and fans since the start of the offseason compared to other areas of the roster.
While the need to upgrade those respective positions is palpable, we can’t help but scratch our heads about why the current linebacker situation isn’t getting discussed as a pertinent void that can stand to be upgraded before the start of training camp.
After all, it’s been over three weeks since three-year starter Anthony Walker inked a one-year, $3 million contract with the Browns in free agency.
Since then, we haven’t heard a peep in terms of the Colts’ plan (if they even have one) to find his replacement.
This wouldn’t even be a conversation if Indy had a viable option waiting in the wings, but their options behind Bobby Okereke leave a lot to be desired.
It’s possible they take to the draft to address this conundrum, but there’s no guarantee they find a readymade starter, either.
Why is nobody talking about the Colts’ concerning linebacker situation?
Think about it like this: assuming the Colts draft an offensive tackle in the first round, they won’t pick again until No. 54 overall. By that point in the draft, they’d be lucky if one of Jabril Cox (LSU), Jamin Davis (Kentucky) or Zaven Collins (Tulsa) are available for the taking. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if two of them came off the board within the first 32 selections.
After that pick, Indianapolis won’t draft until No. 127 overall in Round 4 as a consequence of the Carson Wentz trade, in which they unloaded their lone 2021 third-rounder. In other words, they’d be extremely fortunate to come away with a starting-caliber talent within the first four rounds.
Looking at possible in-house replacements, Okereke figures to pick up right where he left off last season, in which he logged a career-high in snaps and tallied 72 tackles (four of which went for a loss), six passes defended, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
However, the 2019 third-rounder is only one person, and Walker recorded a whopping 92 tackles, which can actually be considered a down year for his standards. Fans might turn to Zaire Franklin as Walker’s replacement, but he’s been predominantly deployed as a special teamer in his career.
For context, Franklin was named a team captain last season for his importance to the special teams unit and has played just 8.3% of the defensive snaps over his first three seasons. In other words, he’s the current projected starter in place of Walker and has barely played the position.
Assuming the Colts aren’t planning on entirely revamping their defensive scheme, they better have a plan to find a new starter before the beginning of training camp. Given the lack of viable options remaining on the free agent market, this storyline needs a lot more attention than it’s getting.