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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Isaiah McKenzie (WR)

Indianapolis desperately needed to improve their wide receiver room in 2023 especially after Parris Campbell left for New York. Despite a troubling injury record, Campbell had a career-best season in 2022 and was the Colts’ second-most productive receiver. With a gaping hole at the slot position, Ballard signed Isaiah McKenzie to give the team a veteran option.

Ultimately, McKenzie’s impact on the offensive end was minimal. He recorded just 11 catches for 82 yards. The Colts drafted Josh Downs in the third round and the rookie quickly won the starting job in the slot. Admittedly, there were still plenty of targets available for McKenzie, but Steichen opted to give those to a trio of tight ends and his running back duo instead. McKenzie simply didn’t show the Colts enough to earn more work. This isn’t all too surprising as McKenzie flashed potential in five seasons with Buffalo, but was never actually that productive or consistent.

The former Bills wideout was trusted to be Indianapolis’ top returner in 2023 but even his special teams work had some issues. McKenzie fumbled the ball three times and Downs averaged more yards per punt return. To make matters worse, McKenzie’s year came to an abrupt end when the team announced after Week 15 that he had been suspended for the remainder of the season due to “conduct detrimental to the team.”

Grade: D

The Rest

Ballard's 2023 free agent class also included a number of players who saw very little in-game action or none at all because they were either injured or waived. Players like Darrynton Evans, Breshad Perriman, and Genard Avery fall in this category.

Additionally, the Colts also re-signed some key contributors including E.J. Speed and Tyquan Lewis. While they are not technically new additions, those moves were still important wins in free agency.

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