The Indianapolis Colts came into the offseason with one of the highest salary cap situations in the league. Contrary to general manager Chris Ballard’s past free agency’s, he spent relatively big. Indy had three main priorities going into free agency. Quarterback, three-technique, and bringing back left tackle Anthony Castonzo.
Anthony Castonzo– After mulling retirement for longer than most Colts’ fans would’ve liked, Castonzo elected to return to Indy on a 2-year deal. The 31-year-old made it clear that his only two options were suiting up for the horseshoe again, or hanging up his cleats. According to PFF, Castonzo allowed just five QB pressures while playing every single colt snap. Proving he still has plenty left in the tank. Castonzo revealed that playing next to All-Pro Quenton Nelson made an impact on his decision to return. “I’d be remiss to say that the opportunity to play next to Quenton Nelson isn’t part of the reason why I’d love to continue playing because it really is a lot of fun,”.
Bringing back Castonzo was arguably the most important move of the off season. There is no suitable replacement on the roster. While adding a long-term option in the draft is still a priority. This allows Ballard to focusing on upgrading current needs as opposed to future needs. Shaped as a Ballard deal, the 2-year contract has an easy out after the first year with no dead cap. 16.5 million annually puts him as the highest paid left tackle in the league.
Le’Raven Clark – Clark has been a valuable depth piece along the Colts O-line the past four years. While Grigson drafted him, Ballard has decided to bring Clark back on a one year 1.3-million-dollar contract. Ballard puts an emphasis on building through the draft rather than free agency. Again, when there is plenty of cap room to go around, it is important to bring back valuable pieces even when they are rotational at that. Clark will not push or challenge for a starting spot, but he is a competent depth piece.
Day One Impact Additions
Philip Rivers– The future Hall of Famer signed a one year 25 million with the Colts this off season. These two parties have been linked since LA made it clear that Rivers would not be resigned. And it makes sense, he knows the offense having worked with both the offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni and head coach Frank Reich during his time in San Diego.
Jacoby Brissett is a top tier backup in the
NFL. However, he proved that he will not take a team into a deep playoff run. Rivers did regress in 2019, but Reich has gone on record saying he believes one season is not indicative of his ability now. It will be interesting to see what Rivers does behind a great offensive line. Admittedly, the Colts do not have the same play makers as the Chargers did, but a quarterback can make a play maker look better. It is a lot harder for a quarterback to make his offensive line look better than it is. The Colts will look to add another dynamic weapon to add to Rivers arsenal during day two of the draft.
Deforest Buckner– I look at it like this, the Colts drafted a 26-year-old 3 technique who can push the pocket with the 13th overall selection. Would a player be available with the same impact at a position of need? No, and Joe Burrow, the inevitable number one pick is 23 years old, only three years younger. Deforest bleeds everything Ballard looks for in a defender. Length, power, speed, and character. Ballard has said from the beginning, the three technique runs this defense. Indy struggled to get interior pressure, arguably the most important facet to an elite defense. Buckner is entering his prime and I can’t wait to watch him take this defense to the next level.
Sheldon Day– The 26-year-old Indianapolis native signed a one year 1.75-million-dollar deal. This deal goes to show Ballard believes in depth in the trenches. That’s where games are one and lost. Coming from the best defensive line in football last year, Day will hope to bring valuable experience to the Colts front four.
Xavier Rhodes– The former all-pro corner back is coming off one of his worst seasons yet. A one-year cheap flyer deal to see if a change of scenery is all he needs. Ballard does a great job at minimizing risk while maximizing possible reward. This contract will not come back to bite the colts. Worst case scenario, Rhodes serves as a solid locker room veteran who has been there and done that. Which is an asset in a still young defensive back room. The release of Pierre Desir shows confidence in the DB room, whether it be Marvin Tell to have a break out year or Rhodes to bounce back to his former self.
T.J Carrie– Carrie is a solid depth piece in a young position group for the Colts. The thirty-year-old signed a one year million-dollar deal. This is another example of Ballard learning from his mistakes. He admitted that he should have kept someone like Mike Adams around for the locker room. These depth pieces he is adding are cheap, short term deals that serve their purpose. Carrie has played predominantly in the slot, but does have experience on the outside. Look for Carrie to spell one of the best nickel corners in the league this year.
Roosevelt Nix– The Colts have not had a designated full back on the roster in seven years. This signing goes hand in hand with Quenton Nelsons favorite saying, “Run the Damn Ball”. Nix will give the colts an added dimension in jumbo sets. Reich has already shown his affinity for multiple tight end sets; I am sure we will see Nix in these sets as well. Nix is an asset on special teams as well. He will add different looks to the offense, a starter on special teams, and a strong locker room addition coming from the Steelers.