The offseason is approaching and it’s time we start shifting to free agency and draft mode. The Colts are going to enter the offseason with about 68M in cap space plus an additional 18M in rolled over cap space from 2017. They’ll have plenty of money to spend, and they’ll have a few key free agents to re-sign, but which free agents are the most important to re-sign?
1 — Jack Mewhort
I recently wrote an article projecting Jack Mewhort's next contract. I expect him to get a deal worth around 7M per year for 3 or 4 years. The Colts should not be afraid to fork up some money to keep a quality offensive lineman. The Colts struggled mightily this season in terms of protecting the quarterback and Mewhort is the Colts' best offensive lineman in terms of pass protection. His health is a question mark, but we know if healthy, he makes a big difference along the offensive line.
If the Colts are serious about protecting Andrew Luck, then Mewhort needs to be their top priority this offseason.
2 — Rashaan Melvin
Melvin had a breakout season. Melvin took over the #1 cornerback role after Vontae Davis went down. Melvin has quietly been one of the better cornerbacks in the league, with Pro Football Focus rating him as one of the top 15 cornerbacks this season. He has gone up against some very good competition, including Deandre Hopkins, Antonio Brown and Doug Baldwin, and done a good job of limiting their impacts and in a couple of cases, shutting them down. He looks like a keeper and the Colts should do all they can to retain him. A two-year bridge contract makes a lot of sense for him.
3 — Donte Moncrief
Moncrief has had a down year, but his down year might be a good thing for the Colts when it’s time to negotiate a new deal. Moncrief’s career with the Colts has been marred with injuries and inconsistency, but when healthy and when playing with Andrew Luck, he’s a fantastic talent and a big-time playmaker. On that basis alone, he should be kept. With little depth in the receiving corps, I believe keeping Moncrief is important as there will be some new faces added this offseason, so keeping a familiar face in Moncrief will be important for Luck.
I expect Moncrief to get a 3 year deal, worth anywhere between $3.5M and $5M per year.
4 — Adam Vinatieri
The SnowBowl game against the Bills tells you everything you need to know about Vinatieri. That 43 yard extra point, followed by the near make from the same distance to win the game tells you the old man stills has gas left in the tank. He needs to remain on the Colts. After all the issues teams have had with kickers this year (Chargers, Bucs, Bears), it should be apparent (if it wasn't already apparent) that having a quality kicker can make or break your team. Keeping Vinatieri until his line shines out is important.
5 — Jon Bostic
Bostic had a rough start to the year, but has come around in the second half of the season. He’s always been a very good run stopper, but has quietly improved as a coverage player too. The Colts need a lot of help at the inside linebacker spot, but Bostic is a good complementary player to a very good, more well-rounded inside linebacker. Bostic has done very well versus the run this year, and if the Colts want to stay strong against the run, keeping Bostic would be a good step to take. He should be offered a 2 or 3 year deal worth about 2.5 to 3M per year.
6 — Pierre Desir
Desir has played well in a backup/rotational role in the secondary. He’s got very good size and is a physical player. That’s an ideal player to have in your secondary, and he’ll be a good player to have in a league where receivers are getting bigger and stronger. A depth player isn’t a crucial player to re-sign, but because of his good play and his size, the Colts should strongly consider bringing him back.
I expect him to get 1 or 2 year deal worth about 1.5M per year.
7 — Barkevious Mingo
Mingo has done a great job in a relief role of John Simon. Having a quality backup is very important at an extremely important position group like outside linebacker. Mingo isn’t a crucial player to re-sign, but he should at least be offered a one or two year deal worth 2 million per year (similar to his deal now).
8 — Mike Person
Person has proven to be a very good backup for the Colts and was rated as the best center in all of football during the Week 13 games. He went up against a tough Jags defensive line and didn’t allow a pressure. That’s fantastic for a backup and I think keeping him as a backup will be important for the depth of the offensive line. A one or two year contract worth just over a million would suffice.
9 — Frank Gore
You’re not going to find too many people that like Frank Gore more than me, but it looks like it’s time to move on from Gore. Despite the fantastic outing against the Bills and a very respectable season, the 34-year-old hasn’t broken the 4 yards per carry threshold during any of his seasons in Indianapolis, and he just doesn’t have the explosiveness that he used to have. He also isn’t worth the money. If the Colts are serious about revamping their running game, they need to find some new, young blood to replace Gore because Mack can’t do it all by himself.
10 — Darius Butler
Butler is a dinosaur in this secondary and while he’s played very well with the Colts through the years, it appears that his best snaps are behind him. At this point, he isn’t even worth re-signing unless it’s for a veteran minimum deal.
The Rest including Scott Tolzien, Kamar Aiken, Brandon Williams, Erik Swoope, Jeremiah George, Quan Bray and Edwin Jackson