The Indianapolis Colts entering the final week of the regular season expecting to stamp their ticket to the playoffs. Instead, they fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars 26-11, eliminating themselves from the postseason in the process.
2021 provided an indication of how much the Colts have working for them (a stellar defensive roster, talented and still developing skill-position players) and what still eludes them (a long-term answer at quarterback). The team enters the offseason with considerable cap space (nearly $36 million by Over The Cap’s accounting) yet without a first-round pick as the result of last year’s Carson Wentz trade.
Below, we examine the Colts’ roster needs and outlook ahead of free agency.
Indianapolis Colts free-agency preview
Positional needs: QB, OL, CB, TE
Indy’s lack of support for Wentz moving forward seems clear after tepid-at-best evaluations from head coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard during their respective season-closing press conferences. Wentz remains on the roster for now, but the team will do whatever possible to find a high-quality veteran replacement or a tantalizing QB prospect in the upcoming draft.
Meanwhile, the offensive line has multiple starters set to hit free agency. Eric Fisher, who returned from a torn Achilles to start 15 games in 2021, would leave a huge void at left tackle should he depart. Multiyear starter Mark Glowinski could create a similar hole along the interior.
While the defense remains a strength of the roster, cornerback would benefit from an influx of talent. Xavier Rhodes, who will turn 32 in June, will likely test the market, leaving Rock Ya-Sin and Kenny Moore as the top returning cover men.
Players to target
Eric Fisher, OT
The Colts could aim higher than Fisher and make a run at, say, Terron Armstead. But Fisher handled himself well after a tough early run in Indy where he allowed four sacks in his first four games, according to Pro Football Focus. He also opened up holes consistently in the ground game, a significant reason why running back Jonathan Taylor delivered an All-Pro performance in 2021.
Fisher will cost more than last year’s $8.38 million contract, something the Colts have to keep in mind. Still, considering how much more a premium option like Armstead would warrant, Fisher seems far more reasonable by comparison.
Allen Robinson, WR
While Michael Pittman Jr. looks like a future star, the Colts could use another reliable wideout to draw away some defensive attention. Pairing him with Allen Robinson, the talented veteran with plenty of tread left on the tires, would make life easier for whoever the team ultimately puts under center.
Robinson spent his eight seasons primarily catching passes from Blake Bortles and Mitch Trubisky, so perhaps the Colts’ uncertainty at quarterback would repel him. However, Reich’s well-designed offense and the presence of other field-tilting players could make Indianapolis a natural fit for the former Pro Bowl wide receiver.
Chris Harris Jr., CB
When Gus Bradley joined the Las Vegas Raiders last offseason, he brought along plenty of his former pupils to help install his defense. The same could happen again in Indy, where Bradley replaces the departing Matt Eberflus as defensive coordinator.
Chris Harris Jr., a former All-Pro corner, played under Bradley with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020 and will hit free agency in March. For most of his career, Harris has played in the slot, the spot where Moore has thrived since landing in Indianapolis in 2017. Still, Moore has played 324 snaps at boundary corner over the past two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus. If Bradley feels comfortable moving Moore around, adding Harris makes some sense.