Free agency is one of the craziest and most interesting periods of the NFL calendar year, and this offseason the Colts were busier than ever during the free agency craze.
They signed a lot of free agents and also re-signed a few of their own. But the hope of Chris Ballard and the Colts is to build their own young talent that they would re-sign rather than using free agency to build their team.
Even though it’s almost a whole year until free agency rolls around next offseason, it is important to look at the list of the upcoming free agents for the Colts and to keep these guys in the back of your mind as the 2017 season goes on, because these are the guys who the Colts are really going to have to make decisions on after this year.
So here’s the list of players who are entering the final year of their contracts with the Colts and who will become unrestricted free agents next year, according to Spotrac. In parenthesis is the age the player will be when the 2018 season starts, and the guys in bold are guys who I project to ‘start’ for the Colts entering the 2017 season.
Kamar Aiken, WR (29)
Akeem Ayers, OLB (29)
Darius Butler, DB (32)
Vontae Davis, CB (30)
Lavar Edwards, OLB (28)
Frank Gore, RB (35)
Rashaan Melvin, CB (28)
Jack Mewhort, OL (27)
Barkevious Mingo, OLB (27)
Donte Moncrief, WR (25)
Darryl Morris, CB (28)
Brian Schwenke, OL (27)
Scott Tolzien, QB (31)
Adam Vinatieri, K (45)
Brandon Williams, TE (29)
So these are the players the Colts will have to make decisions on next offseason, which makes it important to know who these guys are and keep that in mind during the upcoming season.
Of this group, I think Jack Mewhort is a guy who should definitely be a priority for the Colts to re-sign. I’d guess the Colts would like to keep Donte Moncrief around too, though it will be very important for him this year to step up and show what he can do and continue his development. There also will be a very interesting decision to be made on Vontae Davis, and that decision might very well depend both on how he plays this year and how the younger guys - like Quincy Wilson and Nate Hairston - develop this season. And of course, whatever the Colts’ decision is on Davis could perhaps affect what they decide to do regarding other corners, such as Rashaan Melvin and Darryl Morris. Darius Butler is another hard one to project, as we don’t even know exactly how the Colts will use him in 2017 much less how he’ll do.
Frank Gore could very well be entering his last season with the Colts, as they re-signed Robert Turbin and drafted Marlon Mack this offseason, and he’ll be 35 next offseason - but that’s another situation that bears watching this year as we see what Gore has left. And as for Adam Vinatieri, I’d guess he likely will be back as long as he wants to keep playing and as long as he proves to be a very good kicker. If he keeps that up in 2017, we could see him get a one-year deal with the Colts should he want to keep going.
As you can tell, most of this is just conjecture - and that’s why it will be important to watch how these guys do in 2017. There aren’t any no-brainers (like an Andrew Luck, etc.), but there are several guys who could be worth bringing back. As we approach the 2017 season, these are the guys to pay attention to from a contract standpoint.