State of the Franchise: Indianapolis Colts

State of the Franchise: Indianapolis Colts
Reading Time: 4 minutes.

The 2018 season was a roller coaster ride for the Indianapolis Colts. After starting 1-5 they finished 9-1 to qualify for the playoffs as the #6 seed. After looking dead and buried in the race for the division, they ended up just one win behind pipping the Houston Texans for the division. However, they made up for that narrow miss by going into Houston and winning in the Wildcard Round. Unfortunately, they could not overcome the Kansas City Chiefs the following week, but 2018 will ultimately have been a successful season for the Colts.

In fact last season was never supposed to be like this. The Colts were essentially in the middle of a rebuild and did not know what they were going to get from their franchise quarterback. As the season wore on players emerged and they ended up showing they are much closer to being a true contender than we realised at the start of the season. So what does this offseason look like for the Colts? Can they make the moves to put them in a position to possibly go all the way in 2019?

Cap Space: $117,739,115

No one in the NFL entered this offseason with more cap space than the Colts. That is an incredible statistic for a team who made the playoffs last season. Usually here I would look at who the team could release to open up more space. However, the Colts do not need to open up more space. In fact they probably have more space than they know what to do with in free agency. The one option they might consider is letting Jabaal Sheard walk and gaining another $8 million in space. I doubt it but crazier things have happened.

This much cap space can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand the Colts can essentially just go out and bully the market to ensure they get their top targets. However, players will also be aware of their cap space and may try and push the Colts for that little bit extra. It should not be an issue but the Colts need to be willing to walk away from deals in free agency if the price gets too high.

Expiring Contracts

Usually when a team has that much cap space it can be created by having a lot of key player son expiring contracts from the previous season. Well remarkably that is not the case for the Colts. In fact the main pieces they will probably want to bring back are relatively small fish in the grand scheme of what other teams might be thinking about.

Margus Hunt, Pierre Desir, Clayton Geathers and Matthias Farley were all contributing pieces last season. However, none of them are so good that the Colts will not be willing to let them walk away. The only issue might be the effect on the defence of losing four pieces, of which three are in the secondary. If I had to bet I would say that Desir and at least one of Geathers or Farley are back. I would also not be shocked if Hunt signs a multi-year deal in Indy.

Offensively the only real piece I can see being a priority of sorts is Dontrelle Inman. Luck and Inman developed a really good connection last season, and the Colts may want to bring back one of the more reliable pair of hands they had in 2018.

Locking Up Old Father Time

The Colts did not hesitate to put pen to paper on their biggest name free agent. Adam Vinatieri did not have the best end to the season, but his reputation and veteran leadership meant the Colts were happy to sign him, even though he is 46 years of age. As it stand Vinatieri will be the seventh highest kicker against the cap in 2019. However, at just $3.875 million that is hardly a major issue for the Colts.

Draft and Free Agency

With all eyes now turning to the draft and free agency it is time to consider what the Colts really need to add to their roster. Entering this important time of the year the Colts do not have any real need at quarterback, offensive line or linebacker. In fact if they resign the four defenders who are currently set to leave in free agency, you could argue they have no major need anywhere on their defence.

Draft Picks: 26, 34 (from NYJ), 59, 90,
4th, compensatory 4th, 5th, 6th & 7th

Major Needs: Wide Receiver

It is no surprise to anyone who watched the Colts last season that this is the biggest need. Outside of T.Y. Hilton there was a real gulf in class at the receiver position. Inman did a good job, but he was a mid-season acquisition and is currently a free agent. Whether the Colts address the position in free agency, the draft or via trade is unsure. However, my belief is that if the Colts do not sign multiple receivers in free agency, then we will see them use one of those top three draft picks on a complementary target to play opposite Hilton.

Minor Needs: Running back, Defensive Line, Safety & Corner

The defensive positions could be a major need if they do not re-sign any of their current in house free agents. However, I expect at least a couple of those to come back in order to retain their experience in that defensive system. Even if they bring those guys back, then they could still go out and sign some big names to provide some extra quality to a defence that was good but not spectacular last season.

Running back wise they have a lot of talent but no clear #1 back. Marlon Mack did a fine job but is probably better utilised as a change of pace back. An interesting name to watch here will be Le’Veon Bell. However, I also think we see the Colts stab at a couple of guys in the middle rounds of the drafts, hoping they can strike gold with one of them.

Image credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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