Over the past week, there have been a number of different players both linked to the Colts and mentioned by Colts fans as potential targets in free agency. Some of the most popular names that fans have asked about have included players such as Terrence Knighton, Nick Fairley, Vince Wilfork, and others. The common theme among them? They're all defensive linemen.
Knighton signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Redskins this week, while Fairley signed a one-year $5 million contract with the Rams. Neither of those contracts are too big and certainly seem like something the Colts could have committed to, so why didn't they? ESPN's Mike Wells says that it's because of the fact that the Colts already like the talent they have at defensive tackle.
As far as defensive tackle goes, it turns out that the Colts are optimistic about Zach Kerr, Montori Hughes and Kelcy Quarles at that position. So that's why they didn't pursue Terrance Knighton, who signed with Washington on Thursday. Former New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is still without a team and you have to believe Frank Goreand Andre Johnson will try to recruit him to Indianapolis.
The trio of Kerr, Hughes, and Quarles combined to play in 26 games in 2014 (one start), recording 28 tackles, four sacks, three passes defensed, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. The three of them played a depth role last season, and they did a solid job - particularly Kerr and Hughes. They are valuable depth players and are surely going to take on a larger role next year, but it's uncertain just how much larger of a role that will be.
The defensive line is likely to be Arthur Jones, Kendall Langford, and a nose tackle (at this point Josh Chapman), but guys like Zach Kerr and Montori Hughes do provide good depth. There certainly might have been other factors that went into the Colts not signing Terrance Knighton or Nick Fairley, such as issues of attitude or work ethic, but according to Wells it sounds like one of the biggest factors was because the Colts like the players already on the roster.
That makes sense, but they still do need help along the defensive line. The team really needs help at nose tackle, however, and Vince Wilfork is still out there - a possible combination that could happen, though it's far from a certainty.