Grading Colts 2023 free agent signings: Which moves did Chris Ballard get right?

From Gardner Minshew to Isaiah McKenzie, the Indianapolis Colts signed a number of free agents during the 2023 offseason. Let's see how those signings look now.

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Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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Matt Gay (K)

Ironically, the Colts’ most splashy free agent pickup of the 2023 offseason may have been veteran kicker Matt Gay. The team’s kicking situation was in flux after last season since Chase McLaughlin was set to enter free agency. Clearly committed to solidifying the Colts’ future at the position, Ballard made a big investment by handing Gay the largest contract ever given to a free agent kicker. Gay was viewed as one of the most reliable kickers in the NFL which is seemingly why Indianapolis felt comfortable offering him $22.5 million over four years.

Unfortunately, Gay’s 2023 performance wasn’t as stellar as most would have hoped. He made 80.5% of his field goal tries — his worst mark since his rookie season — and his misses came at some very inopportune times. That being said, Gay’s accuracy issues were partly driven by how many long kicks he took. Five of his eight missed FG attempts were from 50 yards or longer.

For comparison, McLaughlin converted 93.5% of his field goals in 2023 (made 7-of-8 from 50+ yards) for Tampa Bay, after the Buccanneers signed him to a bargain one-year deal worth $1.1 million. Gay, on the other hand, will be the third-highest paid kicker in the league in 2024 and is under contract for three more seasons. While it's not totally fair to penalize Ballard for his inability to predict Gay's struggles or McLaughlin's excellence, giving a kicker an expensive long-term deal was always going to be a risky move.

Grade: C