Is Wide Receiver Now Colts' No. 1 Priority?
INDIANAPOLIS — Analyzing what positions the Indianapolis Colts need to address seems rather obvious after specific spots were bolstered in the past two weeks.
General manager Chris Ballard looked to address the position by adding three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes on Thursday, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapaport. The deal is reportedly for one year at $5 million, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Rhodes has played seven seasons for Minnesota and earned his third Pro Bowl nod in 2019.
The Colts were thin at cornerback after last week’s release of their best cover guy, Pierre Desir, who played hurt in 2019 and wasn’t nearly as effective as the year before, when he earned a three-year extension.
Question is, will Ballard continue to address the position or has wide receiver become the No. 1 priority?
Because the Colts traded their first-round pick, No. 13 overall, to acquire defensive tackle DeForest Buckner from San Francisco, they aren’t on the draft clock until the second round with selections at 34 and 44. Their third-round pick is at No. 75.
Expect Rhodes to start opposite second-year pro Rock Ya-Sin, with second-year pro Marvell Tell III earning reserve snaps. Both Ya-Sin and Tell endured their share of rookie struggles in making the pro adjustment. Former second-round pick Quincy Wilson has been a disappointment, but will get another chance to earn snaps.
But the Colts are also thin at wide receiver. Pro Bowl star T.Y. Hilton is a proven commodity except for the fact he’s missed time with injuries the past two seasons. Veteran wide receiver Zach Pascal emerged as a reliable contributor, but his numbers decreased toward the end of the season, when teams could focus on him with Hilton hobbled.
Wide receiver Parris Campbell has potential, but the 2019 second-round pick couldn’t stay on the field. His rookie year was limited by three surgeries.
Factor in also that the Colts allowed former Pro Bowl tight end Eric Ebron to leave in free agency means the team has fewer targets for now.
The Colts signed quarterback Philip Rivers to a one-year $25-million deal, so Ballard must find weapons. He still has some money left in free agency, roughly $29 million before adding defensive tackle Sheldon Day on Wednesday. That’s enough to add a veteran pass catcher who can shore up depth.
But Hilton turns 31 in November and has missed six games the past two seasons due to injuries. In the second half of each season, he played hurt. And the four-time Pro Bowl star is entering a contract year, which means the Colts must decide on paying him big money after 2020 or finding other options.