Free agency is less than a month away, meaning that teams are at work figuring out what direction they want to take. For the Colts, they're not expected to use their franchise tag, but that doesn't mean that they don't want to keep any of their own free agents. In fact, their top priority in free agency this year will be keeping their own, as there are a few notable names that the team would like to keep around.
Pro Football Focus has been looking at the top ten free agents by position, and several Colts players received mentions.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was ranked as the eighth-best free agent quarterback:
Even at the age of 40, we saw that Hasselbeck is capable of keeping an offense afloat in short bursts, taking advantage of his experience and a quick release to get the job done.
Tight end Dwayne Allen is PFF's second-best free agent at his position, behind only Antonio Gates:
Allen had a rough 2015 in every aspect, posting the second-lowest overall grade among tight ends before ending the season on IR. He struggled as a blocker and even saw a diminished role in Indianapolis' passing game with just 26 targets (16 receptions) â down from 60 targets in 2014 and 70 during his rookie season in 2012. But what puts him so high on this list is both his age - 26 when the season starts - and that he's shown that he's more than capable as both a blocker and receiver in previous seasons. It's especially difficult to overlook Allen's ridiculously good rookie year, where he played 70 percent of the team's offensive snaps and finished with the top overall and run blocking grades among tight ends.
The Colts' other tight end, Coby Fleener, is the sixth-ranked tight end on the list:
Another Colt coming off of his rookie contract, Fleener caught more than 50 receptions and 80 targets in each of the last three seasons. He's graded mostly above-average as a receiver, though had a down year in 2015 and is less of a threat after the catch than several other players on this list. As a blocker, he's been inconsistent, looking more adept at blocking in space on screen passes than at the point of attack in the run game.
Safety Dwight Lowery snuck on to the list of the top ten free agent safeties at number ten:
A journeyman safety that has consistently produced above average play in every stop of his career. At 30 years old, Lowery is coming off of the lowest graded season of his career, but I wouldn't expect his production to all of a sudden fall of a cliff just yet. If you are a team desperate for competent play at the safety position for cheap, this is your man.
Kicker Adam Vinatieri is the third-best specialist (kicker/punter) on PFF's list:
The ageless Vinatieri has just three missed field goals the last two seasons, which were the fewest of any full-time kicker. Although he's been seven-of-eight on field goals longer than 50 yards during that stretch, he hasn't kicked off since 2008, which may limit his perceived value on the open market. It's hard to see him repeating his feat as one of the all-time best free agent acquisitions this time around, but it's safe to say he as at least a year or two of quality kicking left in the tank.
Lastly, though I haven't seen a list of PFF's top inside linebackers, the Colts' Jerrell Freeman checks in at number 30 on their list of the top 75 free agents overall (all positions) and is the third inside linebacker on the list:
Freeman drastically improved his run defense and tackling efficiency in 2015, after having his worst season against the run in 2014. He's good in coverage, but which player will we see in run defense going forward?
Dwayne Allen also made the list of the top 75 overall free agents, checking in at number 65.
Though the Colts won't want to pay the high price to franchise any of these players, all of them would be worth keeping around at the right price. Matt Hasselbeck has been the Colts' backup for the past three seasons and started eight games for them last year, keeping the Colts in the playoff picture. Dwayne Allen is a well-rounded tight end who can help the Colts in a variety of areas, though he was drastically underutilized in 2015. Coby Fleener is the receiving tight end of the group, but he has quietly developed into a pretty good one for Indianapolis. Dwight Lowery had a good 2015 season, starting every game and giving the Colts consistent, reliable play in the secondary. Adam Vinatieri, of course, is simply automatic. And Jerrell Freeman had a career year in 2015 as he was one of the team's best defenders. Clearly, all of them (plus a few others) will be guys the Colts have serious considerations about bringing back, but it could come down to an issue of money and value, as these things so often do.
Pro Football Focus thinks highly of several of the team's free agents, and deservedly so. Which of these players mentioned do you most want to see the team re-sign?