Colts Offseason Needs: Pre-Free Agency

The Indianapolis Colts scratched a big need off the list when they acquired quarterback Carson Wentz, but what else do they need to address this offseason?
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After a tame few weeks since Super Bowl LV, the NFL world is about to get flipped on its head once again.

The new league year and free agency begin for the Indianapolis Colts and their 31 counterparts on March 17 with the "legal tampering" period taking place throughout the two days prior.

The Colts are expected to be significant competitors for the services of some highly notable players, but they didn't wait for mid-March to begin making moves.

While the trade can't be made official until the new league year, the Colts recently acquired quarterback Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a pair of draft picks.

With that huge need being crossed off the list, what are the Colts' other biggest areas of opportunity to address this offseason?

DEFENSIVE END

Under contract in 2021:

Kemoko Turay, Ben Banogu, Tyquan Lewis (DT/DE)

2021 free agents:

Justin Houston, Denico Autry, Al-Quadin Muhammad

Players that could fit the Colts in free agency:

Shaquil Barrett, Yannick Ngakoue, Carl Lawson, Romeo Okwara, Trey Hendrickson, Matthew Judon, Bud Dupree

Players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

Kwity Paye, Gregory Rousseau, Jaelen Phillips, Patrick Jones, Jayson Oweh

The Colts' primary starting defensive end duo of Justin Houston and Denico Autry are both free agents, and it seems unlikely that both return given they are both north of 30 years old. For the sake of having a dependable veteran at the position, the Colts may still bring either back. Likewise, Muhammad is also a dependable left end whose pass rushing skills continue to develop.

The only ends under contract of note are Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu, which all but guarantees that moves will be made at the position.

Turay has shown flashes of being a great pass rusher, but injuries have robbed him of being able to show much consistency. Banogu, meanwhile, spent the majority of his 2020 season as a healthy scratch on gamedays. The hope is that he has a big Year 3 bounce-back in 2021 a la Tyquan Lewis last year.

The Colts finished 2020 with a respectable 40 sacks, but they had seven games with either one or zero sacks. Their pass rush has to get more consistent.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

Under contract in 2021:

Braden Smith, Will Holden, Carter O’Donnell, Elijah Nkansah, Casey Tucker, Jake Benzinger

2021 free agents:

Le’Raven Clark, Chaz Green

Players that could fit the Colts in free agency:

Russell Okung, James Hurst, Alejandro Villanueva, Kelvin Beachum, Cam Robinson, Roderick Johnson

Players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

Christian Darrisaw, Samuel Cosmi, Teven Jenkins, Dillon Radunz, Jalen Mayfield, Liam Eichenberg, Spencer Brown, D’Ante Smith

It's no news flash that left tackle is one of the most critical positions in football, and the Colts find themselves on the search for the first time since 2011 after the retirement of Anthony Castonzo.

Trent Williams may be the pipedream that many fans want at left tackle, but considering they have the highest-paid center in the league in Ryan Kelly and are going to need to extend Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith over the next two years, how much money can one team realistically have tied up in one position group?

My thought has been that the Colts will go for a cheaper veteran free agent at left tackle who they feel comfortable enough to start. They could then attempt to find their long-term answer in the draft.

They traded for a quarterback in Wentz who has his issues facing pressure. Now, they need to make sure they do their part to ensure he sees a little of it as possible.

PASSING GAME UPGRADES

Under contract in 2021:

WR — Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell, De’Michael Harris, Dezmon Patmon, J.J. Nelson, Gary Jennings, Quartney Davis | TE — Jack Doyle, Noah Togiai, Farrod Green, Jordan Thomas, Andrew Vollert

2021 free agents:

WR — T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal (RFA), Ashton Dulin (ERFA) | TE — Mo Alie-Cox (RFA), Trey Burton

Players that could fit the Colts in free agency:

WR — Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, Corey Davis, Will Fuller V, Curtis Samuel, Marvin Jones Jr., Nelson Agholor, Breshad Perriman, Chris Conley, Keelan Cole, Isaiah McKenzie, David Moore | TE — Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Gerald Everett, Jared Cook 

Players that could fit the Colts early in the draft:

WR — Rashod Bateman, Kadarius Toney, Terrace Marshall Jr., Rondale Moore, Elijah Moore, Amon-Ra St. Brown | TE — Pat Freiermuth, Brevin Jordan, Tommy Tremble

“I think we need another one or two big playmakers on offense at tight end or wide receiver. I think we have a real interesting mix there. It’s amazing when you see 87 (Travis Kelce) and 10 (Tyreek Hill) in Kansas City, the things they do and that sort of thing. It’s remarkable. I think we’re again, looking offensively for a couple more playmakers."

That was Colts owner Jim Irsay at the end of the season, so you can imagine what comes from him becomes a bit of a priority.

Irsay has a point, though, as the Colts are missing a spark in the passing game. Wentz should have a great run game featuring Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines, but plays made through the air are a bit of a question mark.

At receiver, T.Y. Hilton is far and away the team's most accomplished receiver, but his future in Indianapolis is truly up for debate. Michael Pittman Jr. is coming off of a solid rookie season and looks like he'll be a good player. Parris Campbell has not been able to avoid injuries, so much that you can't quite make plans featuring him. His presence is simply a bonus at this point.

The Colts now need a receiver that can stretch the field and create yards after the catch. They need the same thing at tight end.

Jack Doyle is a chain-moving, possession tight end, Mo Alie-Cox is a 50-50 ball winner, but they could still use a tight end that offers something after the catch and can test the third level of the defense.

Note: As much as this last spot could say "cornerback," the Colts made an investment this offseason in Wentz that requires bolstering what's around him.


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