1. LB EJ Speed is likely to re-sign with Colts
With Shaquille Leonard in and out of the lineup this past season due to injuries, other linebackers got the opportunity to show up and prove why they deserve a spot on the roster. Zaire Franklin capitalized the most with his starting position setting a career-high in tackles with 167 which ranked fourth in the NFL amongst defenders. However, another under-the-radar linebacker proved they could step up and fill big shoes. That was E.J. Speed the fourth-year linebacker out of Tarleton State.
Speed appeared in 17 games, starting five of them this past season. He more than doubled his tackles from last season going from 31 in 2021 to 63 in 2022. In that number, he had 37 solo tackles (career-high) and seven tackles for loss (career-high). Speed also registered the first sack of his career along with two pass deflections. He capitalized on the injuries to other linebackers and seemed to fit well into Bradley’s defensive scheme.
This could be an under-the-radar player the Indianapolis Colts could re-sign to retain a familiar face on their defense and provide consistency if anything would happen to Leonard or if Bobby Okereke is not brought back. Speed is coming off a four-year, $2.8 million deal to which the Colts could give more money and still be under what other linebackers on the market would cost.
This move would be largely predicated on what the team decides to do with their two starting linebackers in Okereke and Leonard. At the very least, Speed would be depth and a younger asset for a defense that is still relatively young.