INDIANAPOLIS – With the month of February on the horizon, it’s time for teams to make decisions on their in-house free agents.
The Colts have a lot of unrestricted free agents in 2022, with about 7-8 starters on the list below.
Currently, the Colts are scheduled to have around $45 million in cap space for 2022, which ranks in the top-10 of all teams.
Let’s rank the tiers of free agents by placing guys in the green (should look to bring back), yellow (could go either way) and red (no need to bring back):
Green (darker green to lighter green)
- Chris Reed (Age: 29): It’s been a while since the Colts decided to make a change along their starting offensive line (by choice). I see Reed at right guard being that move in 2022. Now, Reed prefers the left side, but I still think he can transition to the right guard spot with Mark Glowinski also a free agent (and likely wanting more money). Reed started 6 games this past year for the Colts and filled in very well. He split some time with Glow, while also starting in place of an injured Quenton Nelson.
- K-Michael Badgley (Age: 26): Here’s a name I didn’t think would be this high on the list back in October. But a hip injury to Rodrigo Blankenship (under contract through 2022) provided a great opportunity that Badgley took advantage of. Badgley went 18-of-21 on field goals and 39-of-39 on extra points in 12 games as the Colts kicker. I could still see a Badgley/Blankenship kicking competition at Grand Park. Of course, watching the playoffs has given me some pause if kicker should be something the Colts look to upgrade out of the building this offseason.
- TE-Mo Alie-Cox (Age: 28): The Colts want to bring back Mo Alie-Cox and that makes sense. While we are still waiting for the massive jump from Alie-Cox, he still brings some intriguing qualities you want at the tight end position. The Jack Doyle retirement dilemma will have some impact on Alie-Cox’s status. Even though the Colts would like Alie-Cox to return, this is a position that could still use off-season attention.
- LB-Zaire Franklin (Age: 26): Anytime you have the special teams success the Colts have had, some credit should go to the captain, and that was Franklin in 2021. The Colts love the leadership of Franklin and it’s a big reason why he was the team’s special teams captain. With Anthony Walker moving on, Franklin actually started 11 games as the team’s third linebacker (playing 200 defensive snaps). I don’t think Franklin would be seeking out a much bigger role than what he has here in Indy. He has a nice gig as the team’s third linebacker/key special teamer.
- OL-Matt Pryor (Age: 27): Credit to Chris Ballard for trading a late-round pick for Matt Pryor last August. Pryor was needed and filled in pretty well. Ballard has mentioned left tackle as a possible option for Pryor. That might seem lofty, but Pryor still brings necessary value at other spots. Plus, you’d like to re-sign him after giving up a late-round draft pick for him. If the Colts don’t offer Pryor a chance to start in 2022, which seems to be likely, that’s something he could want to pursue elsewhere (a la Joe Haeg in 2020).
- LT-Eric Fisher (Age: 31): So much of this is going to come down to the medicals for Fisher. Does a second year removed from tearing his Achilles have the Colts thinking Fisher will be better in pass protection? The lack of other left tackle options plays into this Fisher dilemma, too.
- DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad (Age: 27): If Chris Ballard is a man of his word, it’s likely Muhammad returns for a 5th season in Indy. Muhammad has been available and reliable over his time here, which is something the defensive line has lacked, particularly with their younger options. Bringing back Muhammad shouldn’t shift the thinking of this group needing upgrades though.
- DL-Tyquan Lewis (Age: 27): When healthy, Lewis has provided some production and versatility that the Colts should covet along the defensive line. But Lewis’ 4-year rookie deal has ended with him missing 24 of 65 career games, playing less than 10 games in 3 of his 4 seasons. Still, a short-term deal for Lewis (who is coming off a torn patellar) makes sense.
- S-George Odum (Age: 28): Odum showed a little bit more in 2021. He’s made plenty of special teams impact in years past, but the Colts actually turned to Odum for 7 games to start for Julian Blackmon at safety. Odum looked like a guy capable of being more than just a special teamer. That’s important when you consider Blackmon’s injury status for 2022 (coming off a torn Achilles) and the need for some safety depth.
Yellow (darker yellow to lighter yellow)
- DE-Kemoko Turay (Age: 26): This is one of the more maddening FA debates for the Colts in 2022. Injuries have totally stunted any real development for the former 2nd round pick. Turay missed 4 games in 2021 and recorded a career-best 5.5 sacks. I like the idea of a 1-year prove-it deal for Turay, with the hope that motivates him into a career-season. He could then cash in more in 2022. Of course, the health issue remains and that’s why the Colts still need other edge answers besides a return of Turay.
- WR-T.Y. Hilton (Age: 32): I might be in the minority of this, but I’d look into bringing Hilton back, assuming he still wants to play and is prepared to take a significant pay cut. Why? Because I sleep better at night thinking about Hilton still in the wide receiver room compared to the numerous other ‘meh’ in-house options. Yes, Hilton is no longer the same wideout, but I still think he can be somewhat effective. Again, even if the Colts would want to bring Hilton back, that can’t mean the need at WR is crossed off the list.
- DT-Taylor Stallworth (Age: 26): You do need bodies up front along the DL and Stallworth has proven to be a nice rotational piece behind Grover Stewart and DeForest Buckner. Stallworth had 12 QB hits as a reserve defensive tackle in 2022, which is a big number for a backup DT.
- LB-Matthew Adams (Age: 26): Typically, linebackers that reach the end of a rookie contract and play exclusively on special teams are expendable. Adams is probably that, although he did have a nice year on special teams. Adams played just 1 defensive snap last year.
- WR-Zach Pascal (Age: 27): If Chris Ballard was making this list, he’d probably have Pascal higher. But it was such a disappointing contract season for Pascal. For me, wide receiver has to include some serious upgrades. A normal Pascal season would have me wanting him back. But 2021 was not good for him.
Red (darker red to lighter red)
- CB-Xavier Rhodes (Age: 31): What a difference a year makes for Rhodes. After a strong first season in Indy, Rhodes’ play this past year took steps back in his on-field performance and his ability to just stay on the field. Rhodes missed 4 games. The Colts had some reservations about bringing Rhodes back last year and that was before his regression in 2021, plus the steps forward by Rock Ya-Sin and Isaiah Rodgers.
- S-Andrew Sendejo (Age: 34): It’s time to get younger at safety. Sure, Sendejo helped this team in emergency duty this past year. But 34-year-old safeties are going to hit a wall sooner than later.
- CB-T.J. Carrie (Age: 31): Similar to Rhodes, it was a surprising year from Carrie. The injury bug finally hit him and his play on the field was not at the level we saw in 2020. Leadership in the cornerback room could look a lot different in 2022.
- DE-Isaac Rochell (Age: 26): We know Chris Ballard loves defensive line depth. Rochell was an answer there in 2021, but no one should be running to the checkbooks to bring him back in 2021. In 177 defensive snaps this past year, Rochell had 17 tackles (0 for loss, 0 sacks and 3 QB hits). If he’s brought back, it should be in competing for a roster spot.
- DT-Antwaun Woods (Age: 29): Woods went on injured reserve in December. He played 74 snaps in 7 games with the Colts last year. He’s expendable.
- RB-Marlon Mack (Age: 25): If Mack had his wishes, the 2021 season would have gone very different for him. It’s time for the Colts and Mack to have their cordial partnership end. The Colts had Mack as a healthy scratch in 11 games and he didn’t have a single carry once the season reached November.
- OT-Sam Tevi (Age: 27): Tevi had a terrible training camp and then tore his ACL in the preseason finale. Tevi has made 44 career starts in 5 NFL seasons. It’s time to move on.
- OG-Mark Glowinski (Age: 29): Do I have Glowinski too low? The reason for that is mostly financial. At some point, you need to get ‘cheaper’ at one of the offensive line starting spots, so right guard it is moving forward. Glow has been a key waiver claim with his availability leading to playing in 59 of his last 60 games, too. It’s time to turn to Chris Reed and/or Danny Pinter in starting roles.
- OT-Julie’n Davenport (Age: 27): So that’s why Davenport was on the open market this past year. Davenport’s days of being an every day starter are gone. The tackle depth needs new bodies in 2022.