Free agency is fast approaching, and one thing that has become an annual tradition has been keeping an eye on Ravens defensive players as possible targets for the Colts. With head coach Chuck Pagano trying to bring a defense to Indianapolis that is similar to the defense he had in Baltimore while defensive coordinator, it makes sense, and the Colts have already signed defensive linemen Cory Redding and Arthur Jones from the Ravens in the past two offseasons.
This offseason, one such name that we have already been watching closely is Ravens pass rusher Pernell McPhee, who is fully expected to leave the Ravens due to Baltimore having a tight cap situation. Though many assumed the Colts might be interested, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora today confirmed that the Colts indeed "will likely be very involved" in pursuing the pass rusher.
Ravens defensive lineman Pernell McPhee, a rotational guy in Baltimore who rarely started, is going to hit it big. I expect he can reach $10M a year -- the Colts will likely be very involved -- and will top a class of pass rushers that has some questions. Jerry Hughes might hit $9M a year, with guys like Brandon Graham and Jason Worilds possibly coming in around the $7.5M range. It's certain McPhee is gone -- the Ravens wish him best of luck and are happy for the young man who is about to secure life-changing wealth, and at this point I'd expect everyone on this list to be playing elsewhere next season.
McPhee played in all sixteen games in 2014 and recorded 7.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and four passes defensed. According to the Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson, McPhee had 64 pressures and 24 quarterback hits a season ago for the Ravens. Over the past four years, McPhee has played in 60 games but has started only six and hasn't started a single game in over two years. He has 17 sacks and three forced fumbles in his career, but he has almost always been used in a situational role. For a guy like that to get perhaps $10 million a year is quite a bit, and that's a risky move for a Colts team that has not had great success with big free agent signings recently. In fact, the signing of Ricky Jean Francois was one signing in which the Colts overpaid for a guy with just five starts in four years. Could the same be true of McPhee, or would he instead embrace a larger role and really impress? That remains to be seen, but spending that much money for a guy without a lot of starts is a risky move.
With that said, it does sound like the Colts will be pursuing McPhee in free agency, and with the team needing help along their front seven and particularly along the defensive line, it makes sense for them to really target that position. We know that the team wants to add pass rush help, and McPhee would help in that area. The question is about how much they would pay him, and as La Canfora notes, McPhee could get $10 million per year. If it were me paying the money, I'd be very wary about spending that kind of money on a layer who hasn't really proven himself in a starting role. He's a good player and a good pass rusher, but is he worth $10 million per year? That remains to be seen, but it should at least make the Colts cautious as they approach their pursuit of the defender.
One other Raven to keep an eye on is defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, who La Canfora says might really have played his last game in Baltimore. If that is the case, the Colts will be linked to him - if for no other reason than him being a Ravens defender. While that situation is still fluid and is still playing out, it does sound like not only will Pernell McPhee not be playing in Baltimore next season but that the Colts are expected to be "very involved" in pursuing him.