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Who is the Colts’ next candidate for a contract extension?

NFL: International Series-Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr received a contract extension with the team, prompting this question: which Colts player is next in line for an extension?

We sort of looked at that question last month when we listed the players who are entering a contract year with the team, and while there are a number of players who could very well get re-signed, I don’t think there’s any obvious candidate the team should try to lock up before the 2017 season.

But who should be the next one to get an extension? That’s an interesting question. To begin with, let’s narrow down the list of 2018 free agents to those players who I expect to have a decent role in 2017: Kamar Aiken, Darius Butler, Vontae Davis, Frank Gore, Rashaan Melvin, Jack Mewhort, Donte Moncrief, and Adam Vinatieri - and we can throw Darryl Morris in there too, as I think he might be the team’s slot corner.

Out of that list, there are a lot of players who the team will be waiting and seeing in 2017. For the sake of our discussion, let’s go ahead and take Kamar Aiken and Darius Butler out of the conversation, since they were signed to one-year deals this offseason and therefore are incredibly unlikely to sign a contract extension before the season starts.

Other players, like Rashaan Melvin and Darryl Morris, will need to show what they can do in 2017. I could see a scenario in which the Colts keep both guys around following the season, but I don’t think they’re prime candidates for an extension earlier than that. Rather, I think it’ll be a case where they have to prove themselves this year. That will also likely be true of some higher profile guys - namely, Frank Gore, Vontae Davis, and Donte Moncrief. In the case of Gore and Davis, the Colts will be looking to see whether the two can keep up the high level of play that they’ve been at in the past even as they start getting older. In Moncrief’s case, the Colts will be looking to see whether he can reach that high level that they know he has the potential to.

Adam Vinatieri is a guy who the team could easily decide to keep around in 2018, but at his age it’s probably a year-to-year basis right now - both whether he wants to keep going and whether he’s able to play at a high level still. Assuming both of those things are still true following the 2017 season I think he’ll still be around, but he doesn’t exactly fit the criteria for this discussion then.

That leaves just one player who seems to be a candidate for an extension: left guard Jack Mewhort. He has been a terrific player for the Colts since he was drafted in 2014, and he has started 40 games in that span. He’s quickly become an anchor for the Colts up front, and with all of the hype about the offensive line moving forward he seems to be a guy they need to hold on to. Even if Joe Haeg and Le’Raven Clark step up big-time in 2017, letting Mewhort walk at the end of the year could jeopardize the positive steps forward that the line had accomplished. Some might argue with paying to keep a guard, but remember that some had issues with the Colts picking a center in the first round last year - and, with how good Ryan Kelly has been, nobody is complaining anymore.

I don’t think Mewhort is a prime candidate for an extension before the season, as he’s coming off of injury and as the Colts have a new GM in the building in Chris Ballard - a guy who will likely want to evaluate these guys and promote the best competition possible. But if there’s one player on the roster who I think is an extension candidate, it’d be Jack Mewhort.

What about you?