Free agency is quickly approaching in the NFL, and teams are no doubt preparing their plan for what to do - both in re-signing their own and in targeting players from other teams.
The Colts still have yet to re-sign anybody and we haven’t gotten many indications on players they might be interested in from other teams, but people have been eagerly discussing what they should do.
Last week, Pro Football Focus wrote an article for ESPN listing one free agent each team should target, and for the Colts they had Packers guard T.J. Lang:
When it can field its strongest five starters, the offensive line in Indianapolis is a lot better than it showed at times in 2016, but it still has an issue at guard. Jack Mewhort is a good player at one spot, but the other could use an upgrade, and Lang has been one of the league's most consistent guards for several years now for the Packers. In 13 games this past season, he didn't allow a single sack or hit on Aaron Rodgers, despite Rodgers' holding the ball longer on average than all QBs besides Tyrod Taylor.
Previously, PFF had ranked Lang as the tenth-best free agent in this year’s class, writing:
Lang is two years older than Cincinnati’s Kevin Zeitler, but like seemingly all Green Bay offensive linemen, he is one of the best players in the league at pass blocking. This past season, Lang didn’t allow a single sack or hit on quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and surrendered just 10 QB hurries all season, despite Rodgers recording the second-highest average time to throw in the league. If you are a team in need of guard help, and the passing game is the foundation of your offense, Lang would be your ideal target.
The description there - of a team in need of guard help and with the passing game as the foundation of the offense - certainly fits the Colts, and there’s no doubt that Lang is a good player. And since some Colts fans think Andrew Luck has a problem of holding the ball too long, adding a lineman who protected a quarterback who holds the ball even longer would make sense, right?
Lang, 29, is a great player too. He’s started 94 games for the Packers since entering the NFL. He made his first career Pro Bowl in 2016 as he started 13 games and played very well, and though the Packers would surely like to keep him around, it’s unclear whether they’re going to be able to. That would make Lang one of the best offensive linemen available this offseason, and Spotrac projects him to get a four-year deal that will pay him an average of $8.4 million per year, which would make him one of the league’s highest-paid guards.
That’s significant money to pay a guard considering all the Colts’ other needs, though Chris Ballard has emphasized the need to build through the trenches and didn’t rule out adding a lineman. But the Colts have some pieces to work with up front in Joe Haeg and Le’Raven Clark, and Haeg showed some flashes last year at right guard. The question the Colts must consider is whether Lang - who’s undeniably an upgrade - is worth paying big money to or whether that money could be better spent elsewhere (defensively) while Haeg starts at right guard.