We’re in the midst of looking at each of the Colts’ free agents this offseason and whether the team should re-sign them, and one of the interesting things about the guys whose contracts will be up for Indianapolis is that there’s no clear-cut answer.
By that, I mean that there will be a lot of decisions for the Colts to make. Re-signing guys like Andrew Luck or T.Y. Hilton are easy decisions, but what about guys like Jack Doyle, Erik Walden, Mike Adams, and Darius Butler? That’s much tougher. This year, there’s really no obvious name who the Colts absolutely must re-sign, but there are a few players who will generate quite a bit of debate.
Recently, ESPN had their NFL reporters list the biggest free agent decision for each team, and for the Colts Mike Wells said outside linebacker Erik Walden.
With that list in hand, ESPN’s Field Yates then went team-by-team looking at each of those decisions and offering up his opinion on what they should do. And for the Colts, he said they should let Walden walk.
The 31-year-old Walden was Indianapolis' best pass-rusher in 2016, notching 11 sacks. But Indy needs an infusion of young defensive talent to supplement its strong offensive core. If Walden finds a lucrative deal on the open market, the Colts should let him walk.
That analysis is very fair, because it not only acknowledges that Walden produced in 2016 but also acknowledges that the Colts need to get younger on defense. I think the key part of the conclusion is “if Walden finds a lucrative deal on the open market,” because I doubt many would argue that the Colts should get into a serious bidding war for Walden. Offering him a reasonable salary to return, however, wouldn’t be a bad move either. Yes, the Colts need to get younger, but that doesn’t mean they have to immediately move on from every veteran player.
I think ultimately it comes down to how much Walden will get from another team, as well as what the Colts’ replacement plan is. If Chris Ballard has a replacement plan in place at outside linebacker, or if Erik Walden is expected to get a significant deal from someone else, the logical move is to let Walden walk. It really only becomes a decision if the Colts would be able to sign him to a smaller, bargain deal.
Yates thinks the Colts should let Walden walk, and I’d guess that feeling is shared by a number of Colts fans. What are your thoughts on this decision for the Colts? And is it really the toughest decision they’ll have to make on their free agents this offseason?