Offseason Needs: Indianapolis Colts Must Add Talent to Keep Pace In AFC

Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates a second half stop for the Colts, Houston at The Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. Colts won 30-23 to pull ahead in the race for the AFC South title.Houston Faces Colts For Afc South Supremacy
Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates a second half stop for the Colts, Houston at The Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. Colts won 30-23 to pull ahead in the race for the AFC South title.Houston Faces Colts For Afc South Supremacy /
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NFL Draft, Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Pittman Jr #11 of the Indianapolis Colts against the Los Angeles Rams at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /


I’ll start with a few position groups that are stable and will not need much activity. Those positions include: running back and offensive line (aside from left tackle).

-Running Back: This one kinda goes without saying. The Indianapolis Colts employ the 2021 NFL rushing king Jonathan Taylor, coming off a season in which he led the league in rushing yards (1811) and rushing touchdowns (18). No matter what, it is nice to have Taylor as a security blanket for any quarterback. He is becoming more of a three-down back as well, providing an option as a check down in the passing game.

Because of this, backup Nyheim Hines can be a forgotten man. Hines is one of the most explosive players on the roster and has been used on special teams as a returner throughout his career. With Taylor taking those steps in the pass game, the amount of available touches are decreasing, but Hines still profiles as one of the best handcuffs in the entire league. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Reich start mixing in plays with both running backs on the field at the same time, something he did sparingly during the past season.

Deon Jackson likely claims the number three spot on the depth chart, rounding out one of the sturdiest positional groups on the roster.

-Offensive Line (minus Left Tackle): Yes, I know the left tackle part is a major caveat, but the Colts really are in great shape on the interior and have Braden Smith locked in as the right tackle. Mark Glowinski’s contract is up, making him a free agent. He started most of his four seasons in Indianapolis, experiencing a career renaissance of sorts after a disappointing time in Seattle. He was a solid player and could be brought back.

I believe it is more likely that they allow him to walk and general manager Chris Ballard chooses to re-up Chris Reed instead, sliding him in as the starting right guard. This gives the Colts a grouping of Nelson-Kelly-Reed-Smith, which stacks up there with the best in the entire league. Backup Danny Pinter provides excellent versatility and can spot start all over the line if it is needed. A veteran and/or a late round draft pick as depth is all that is needed.

Next up are the positions that could go either way, those include: quarterback, tight end and left tackle.

-Quarterback: Need at this position is mostly dependent upon what happens with current quarterback Carson Wentz. If the Colts cut him, this becomes the immediate number one need for the team, plain and simple. Even if Indy does bring Wentz back, that still should not rule them out of drafting a quarterback or bringing in a veteran for competition.

Players like Jimmy Garoppolo, Teddy Bridgwater, and Jameis Winston don’t provide an obvious upgrade from Wentz, and the Colts are without their first-round pick so draft options are limited as well. They are in an unenviable position, potentially sitting without a quarterback or a day one draft pick. Will they sign/trade for a veteran? Draft a rookie? Stick with Wentz? Right now, your guess is as good as mine.

-Left Tackle: Left tackle is a contender for number one need on the entire roster if Eric Fisher is not retained. In 2021 Fisher was a shell of himself in pass protection, frequently getting beat on the outside by quicker and stronger defenders. He showed an inability to anchor in and keep the left side of the pocket clean. Carson Wentz has his faults, but no quarterback can succeed with constant pressure to their blind side.

Left tackle is a difficult position to upgrade without investing a high draft pick or a lot of money on the free agent market. Their first pick is 47, but they do have ~37 million dollars available in cap space. One avenue the Colts could look to go is a move similar to what the Chiefs-Ravens did in the Orlando Brown trade. The Colts could offer their second-round pick to a team that is looking to move on from their starter, rather than extend him.

The most likely option is that they decide to bring back Fisher on a cheap one-year deal, and use next offseason to address the left tackle position. Fisher is better than nothing, but if they stick with him, they can only blame themselves if he regresses even more.

-Tight End: This is another interesting position that could go either way. Jack Doyle is under contract for 2022, Mo Alie-Cox is an unrestricted free agent, and 2021 third-round pick Kylen Granson figures to be ready to handle more of the load in his second professional season. The Colts can save nearly six million dollars if they move on from Doyle. He also publicly mulled over retirement last offseason, so there’s a chance that he makes the decision for the Colts.

Alie-Cox is a strong candidate to return next season to pair with Granson. Indy likely would not be content with just these two, and will scour both the veteran and draft options. Will they take a big swing at someone like Dalton Schultz? Or how about Mike Gesicki? Veteran option Gerald Everett was a player of interest last offseason before signing with the Seahawks, presenting another option on the market. It is also widely considered to be a deep pool of talent at the tight end position in the 2022 NFL Draft, so the team will have no shortage of options if Doyle does step away.

Finally we arrive at a position that MUST be addressed in order for the Colts to compete at a high level: wide receiver.

-Wide Receiver: This is the number one need on the entire roster. The Colts were able to lure franchise icon TY Hilton back to Indianapolis last offseason, with Jim Irsay flexing his ownership power to ensure it. As great as it was for Colts fans to see Hilton back out there, it became increasingly obvious that he wasn’t the player they had grown accustomed to seeing on Sundays.

He noticeably lost a step, but still filled an important role as a field stretcher. Thanks to a week two injury to Parris Campbell, Hilton was the only true vertical option on the outside. Zach Pascal was extremely inconsistent and is not a starting caliber player in the NFL. The shining star of the position was Michael Pittman Jr. He frequently battled double teams but still posted career highs in catches (88) and receiving yards (1082).

Pittman will not be able to reach his next level of development if the Colts cannot put a consistent threat opposite him. Maybe even two. Whether Wentz is the quarterback or not, Indy could be set up nicely if they spend some money on a veteran and double down in the draft on day two. It is time for the team to get more talent at the boundary position.