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One Under-The-Radar Free Agent Fit at Colts' Positions of Need

With free agency looming for the Colts, who are some lesser known players that could be fits for the team?

The offseason is under way for the Indianapolis Colts, as the team has quite a few needs to address before the 2022 season. While the team typically likes to sit back in free agency, a few of these needs will have to be addressed by spending money (due to the lack of overall draft capital).

With that being said, I still don't see the Colts being major players in free agency. It is simply not the way that this team has operated in the past and I would be shocked if they started handing out big deals to top market players.

Where we could see an uptick in activity is with the mid-level free agents. General Manager Chris Ballard has struck gold in the past with these types of players, as he has signed Denico Autry, Justin Houston, Jabaal Sheard, and Xavier Rhodes to deals that have benefited the team.

With all of that in mind, here is my list for a few mid to low level targets that could make sense for the team in free agency at a few positions of need:

Wide Receiver

Tre'quan Smith (New Orleans Saints)

Smith is a former third round pick that has struggled to take that final step forward as a receiver. He has had a few productive seasons in New Orleans, but was never able to firmly breakout in his role with the team.

He has been a steady producer in his NFL career, breaking the 400 yard mark twice and totaling five touchdowns in two of his four seasons. On film, he is a compact player with great length that allows him to catch passes away from his frame.

What should intrigue the Colts the most about Smith is his versatility (split his snaps evenly between the slot and outside in 2021) and his upside as a blocker. He can be an every down player that has room to grow as a productive receiver in an offense.

If the Colts are looking for a young upgrade to Zach Pascal (and his role on the offense), Smith could be a decent bargain find.

Tight End

Zach Ertz (Arizona Cardinals)

If veteran tight end Jack Doyle opts to retire this offseason, the Colts would be stuck with a major hole at an important position in the offense. The most logical connection to the team is veteran Zach Ertz.

Ertz is a formal Pro Bowler that saw a resurgence in play with the Cardinals in 2021. He finished the year with 74 receptions for 763 yards and five touchdowns in the Cardinals' high powered offense.

While Ertz is far from a flashy player, he does have a great understanding of how to get open and how to be a reliable target for a quarterback. While that won't stretch the field or create an explosive offense, it is a necessary outlet to have for any quarterback.

With Ertz's ties to the Colts' staff (especially his close relationship with Frank Reich), I see this signing as being one of the more likely fits in free agency for the team.

(Spotrac Estimated Contract: 3 years, 21.2 million dollars)

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Left Tackle

Cornelius Lucas (Washington Football Team)

The options in free agency for left tackle are admittedly slim this year. The Colts would be wise to at least bring back Matt Pryor to have some stability at the spot if they miss out in the draft and FA.

Lucas is an interesting veteran that has come into his own in recent seasons. He received quite a bit of playing time early in his career with the Detroit Lions, but then hardly saw action from 2016-2018.

He finally received playing time again with the Bears in 2019, and he used that play to earn a significant role with Washington Football Team. In Washington, he has played 1,195 snaps and has only allowed six sacks in two seasons.

Lucas wouldn't be the long-term solution at the position, by any means, but he would be an instant upgrade as a pass blocker on the left side.

Defensive End

Jacob Martin (Houston Texans)

One of the more underrated pass rushers to hit the market this year is Texans' defensive end Jacob Martin. He doesn't fit the typical size of a Colts' defensive end, but that could change with Matt Eberflus heading to Chicago.

Martin was once the afterthought player thrown in the Jadeveon Clowney trade years ago. Now, he is a legit force as a pass rusher. He finished this past year with 32 hurries and four sacks for the Texans. His 32 hurries would have finished as the best among Colts' edge players in 2021.

Martin is an explosive and twitchy pass rusher that can thrive in a sub-package role. If the Colts are serious about upgrading the pass rush, Martin would be a phenomenal add on a relatively cheap contract.

Safety

Kareem Jackson (Denver Broncos)

The final position I'm going to talk about in this piece is safety. This may not seem like the biggest need on paper, but the Colts desperately need a veteran option in this rotation. Julian Blackmon is coming off of an achilles injury and Khari Willis has yet to play a full season in the NFL.

The perfect compliment to these two players is Kareem Jackson. Jackson, once a cornerback for the Houston Texans, made the transition to safety seamlessly late in his career. He finished this past year with 76 tackles, 15 stops, one pass breakup, and one interception.

Jackson has the ability to fill in at either safety spot and could even be an upgrade over Willis in certain match-ups. He is a hard-nosed, veteran player that would give the Colts a lot more confidence in this safety group than in years past.


Follow Zach on Twitter @ZachHicks2.

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