The offensive line has been one of the worst units for the Indianapolis Colts so far but they are also one the most expensive units.
With the Indianapolis Colts off to a disastrous 0-1-1 start, there has been a lot of blame thrown around as to why Indy is struggling. Some of the blame has fallen on general manager, Chris Ballard, as fans highlight offseason mistakes he and the team made. Another group under scrutiny is the offensive line because they have failed to protect Matt Ryan in the first two matchups.
There’s a bit of overlap in the blame of Ballard and of the offensive line because Chris Ballard knew that left tackle was a concerning spot for the Colts but he opted not to acquire proven veterans. The team also let guards Mark Glowinski and Chris Reed walk in free agency this offseason.
However, all of the blame for the struggling offensive line can’t be placed on Ballard because this is a group that the team has made a conscious effort to invest in. With multiple linemen playing on high-salary contracts, the inability to protect Matt Ryan is especially bad since Indy is spending so much money on the offensive line.
Colts’ offensive line is an expensing mess
In 2020, Indianapolis signed center Ryan Kelly to a four-year, $50 million extension. The next offseason, 2021, Indy extended right tackle Braden Smith, signing him to a four-year, $72 million deal. This year, on the eve of Indy’s first game, the Colts signed Quenton Nelson to a record-breaking four-year extension worth $80 million.
These deals made those three some of the highest-paid players for their positions and it was deserved. Also, it was done exactly how Indianapolis likes to do things: draft players, develop them, and pay them a nice second contract. Add in Indy’s two other starters and all the depth linemen and the team is spending $42,670,344 on the offensive line. That’s 20.04% of Indy’s cap space and also the fourth-most expensive offensive line in football.
Unfortunately, they aren’t playing like the fourth-most expensive line in the NFL and that’s why the struggles are so disappointing. In contrast, the wide receivers are struggling and it’s like, of course, it’s a group of unproven guys and a spot where the team repeatedly refused to invest. However, the offensive line, with the exception of two spots, has had Indy’s attention and money and they’ve also played well before.
It’s time for the guys up front to get back to the elite level that earned them their big contracts. If they’re unable to get things together, Indy’s offense will continue to struggle.