INDIANAPOLIS – It’s a free agency period that has seen far more Colts departures than arrivals.
While roster turnover will continue to some degree in the coming weeks, the major work of the offseason is complete.
Who are the Colts’ winners and losers following the major wave of free agency?
-Frank Reich: Yes, Frank Reich is a big fan of Carson Wentz and would have been more than content with him returning to the Colts in 2022. But the arrival of Matt Ryan means Reich is going to have a much more stable and confident QB under center. With Reich’s offense giving the quarterback ample command at the line of scrimmage, a QB with the mental acumen of Ryan is going to help this unit. That’s very important for the play caller.
-Nyheim Hines/Kylen Granson: These are two names the Colts actually mentioned back in January as guys that needed to see bigger roles in 2022. For Hines, the Colts are hoping to use him more in the passing game, talking about lining him up in the slot more, which makes sense given zero outside free agent signings at wide receiver this spring. Granson’s playing time should increase with Jack Doyle’s retirement. Therefore, more opportunities to increase the 11 catches he had as a rookie.
-Young Wideouts: The names won’t ‘wow’ you at all behind Michael Pittman. But the likes of Keke Coutee, Ashton Dulin, Dezmon Patmon, Michael Strachan, DeMichael Harris have to be beyond thrilled with the lack of wide receiver attention the Colts have showed this offseason. The Colts say they believe 1 of these 2 names will emerge in 2022. While an early draft pick at wide receiver would be wise, expecting that guy to come in and impact right away is no guarantee.
-DeForest Buckner: For the first time in his 3 years with the Colts, DeForest Buckner will face an offensive line that must pay a good amount of attention to a strong edge rusher in his prime. The arrival of Yannick Ngakoue should open up the opportunity for Buckner to get more 1-on-1 chances in pass rush situations. Buckner has been frequently double-teamed in his time with the Colts. But a proven edge rusher like Ngakoue means some decisions are needed for the opponent when it comes to pass protecting against Indy. That’s welcomed.
-Isaiah Rodgers: With the departures of Rock Ya-Sin (trade) and Xavier Rhodes (still on the open market as a free agent), the Colts have a lot of starts/snaps to replace at cornerback. While newcomer Brandon Facyson figures to factor in there, it’s very good news for third-year corner Isaiah Rodgers. There have been flashes from Rodgers, and he brings some Kenny Moore type instincts and competitiveness to the corner position. Right now, Rodgers is probably a starter in the team’s three-corner nickel package, which we know is a personnel grouping teams rely on a lot in today’s NFL.
-Danny Pinter: The Colts have never shied away from publicly praising the Ball State product. Well, now their actions are backing that up. In seeing both Mark Glowinski and Chris Reed move on in free agency, a starting spot is open at right guard. Pinter has to be viewed as the favorite there, despite having never started a game at RG (in the NFL or college).
-Matt Ryan: So, about that support for the new QB? You could make the argument that Matt Ryan currently has one of the least productive wideout/tight end groups in the entire NFL. Of course, Ryan will welcome the fact that Jonathan Taylor is his new running back. But when it comes to the passing game, the Colts have a major question in the weapons department. Up front, Ryan will play behind a left tackle getting his first look as a full-time LT starter.
-Jonathan Taylor: Similar to Ryan, Jonathan Taylor can’t love how he’s seen the Colts operate this offseason. Taking pressure off of Taylor and the run game hasn’t been there. Opposing defenses have no reason to do anything other than load the box to try and stop Taylor and the Indy run game first. Taylor will also be working with two new offensive line starters in 2022.
-Reggie Wayne: See a theme here? Reggie Wayne’s new duties of wide receivers coach in Indy might mean he’s also No. 2 on the wideout depth chart at the ripe age of 43. What is great news for the unheralded wideout names listed should not make Wayne sleep easier at night. This is quite the challenge for Wayne to walk into, as he embarks on his first ever year coaching in the NFL.