Colts: Analyzing Chris Ballard’s two latest free agent signings
By Jerry Trotta
Indianapolis Colts training camp is officially underway and all eyes will be on newly-minted quarterback Carson Wentz to see how he performs with a fresh start.
We’ll have more on Wentz in the days to come. For now, however, let’s focus our attention on the defense, which will be practicing without leader Darius Leonard for the time being while he works his way back from a minor ankle procedure he underwent in June.
The Colts’ lack of proven pass rushers has sparked panic amongst fans, and rightfully so considering that Tyquan Lewis has the most experience of the bunch.
Fans have expressed similar concerns about the secondary, which has question marks behind veterans Xavier Rhodes and TJ Carrie, and slot star Kenny Moore.
It would appear general manager Chris Ballard is aware of these shortcomings, because he just addressed both situations in free agency, signing defensive lineman Damontre Moore and cornerback Holton Hill with camp just 24 hours old.
What to make of GM Chris Ballard’s latest free agent signings.
It’s tough to draw a conclusion about a player before he even takes the field, but Moore comes with off-the-field baggage that immediately makes us question the move.
A former third-round pick of the Giants, Moore is joining his seventh team in as many seasons, having previous pit stops with the Dolphins, 49ers, Cowboys, Raiders, and most recently, the Seahawks, with whom he logged nine tackles, one sack and seven QB hits last year.
The big indictment against Moore? The NFL suspended him six games after he violated the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy. Perhaps more damning, though, was his first suspension, as he was banned two games in 2017 as a result of a DUI arrest.
With that in mind — and considering that Moore hasn’t registered more than three sacks in a single season since 2015 and played a combined 11 games from 2016 to 2019 — we’re having trouble wrapping our minds around this signing.
Assuming the Texas A&M product was solely signed for depth purposes at camp, we shouldn’t hear much, if anything, about him moving forward.
With that settled, how about saving the best for last?
While Hill might not prove to be an impact player for the Colts, the secondary needs depth at cornerback, and he fits that bill. A former undrafted free agent out of Texas in 2018, Hill has appeared in 28 games (six starts) for the Vikings over the last three seasons.
Hill regressed a bit in 2020 after a promising first two years, so Ballard clearly sees him as someone who can battle with Rock Ya-Sin, Marvell Tell and Isaiah Rodgers for the No. 4 and 5 spots behind Rhodes, Moore and Carrie, the projected starters.
Matt Eberflus confirmed earlier in the offseason that there would be an open competition for those spots, and the Hill signing proves the Colts are evaluating their options.