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PFF’s Best Free Agent Fits for Colts: Defense

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Which defensive free agents does Pro Football Focus think fit best with the Colts?

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Indianapolis Colts v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Pro Football Focus has released its first ever NFL Free Agency Guide (available to PFF EDGE and ELITE members), this for the NFL’s 2018 free agency period.

PFF has highlighted a ton of free agents from every positional category and provides the players’ best team fits for 2018 along with what their projected guaranteed salary per year should be under their new contract.

In regards to salary projections, PFF says:

The salary numbers in the guide are projections of average guaranteed salary per year rather than total amount or total amount per year. Most fans understand that NFL salaries are often structured to have a high total amount, but some of the salary is never likely to be given to the player. The player’s position is taken into account because some positions are played more than others. This is not to project how much we think a player will get paid but how much he should get paid.

In regards to best team fit projections, PFF says:

Each unrestricted free agent has been given an ideal team to land with in free agency. This does not necessarily mean that each of those teams should be pursuing every one of those free agents, but rather that each of those players matches what those teams do from a schematic or stylistic point of view. Salary cap space and roster construction has also been factored in when looking at those ideal team fits, and they reflect the most sensible landing spot for each player in isolation, not as a complete team shopping list for the free agency period as a whole.

Restricted free agents did not receive an ideal team fit because they are so much less likely to move anywhere in the free agent period.

For the purposes of this article, I went through and separated each defensive player that PFF said fit best with the Colts. This includes some of their own impending free agents. They are sorted by position, and then alphabetically.



DT Chris Jones

Former: San Francisco 49ers

Size: 6-2, 306

Age: 27

Projected guaranteed/year: Veteran minimum. According to Spotrac, the 2018 veteran minimum contract for a player with Jones’ accrued time in the league would be $790K.

UFA Rank: N/R

Take: Fun fact — I went to high school with Jones, so of course this is a great pick! In all seriousness, Jones could be a quality depth piece that helps fill out the depth of the interior defensive line. He has started 29-of-41 career games, and his most prominent playing time was as a Super Bowl winner with the New England Patriots from 2013-14 (started 23-of-28 games).

ED Kareem Martin

Former: Arizona Cardinals

Size: 6-6, 272

Age: 25

Projected guaranteed/year: $700K-900K

UFA Rank: N/R

Take: Martin had his best recent pro season in 2017 according to PFF, but he still doesn’t bring the pass rush presence that the Colts need. He is more of a strong-side edge defender like the Colts already have in Jabaal Sheard and John Simon. They need pass-rushing edge defenders more than anything. While PFF ranked Martin as the 10th-best free agent edge defender in run-stop percentage (7.3), he was 21st in pass-rush productivity (6.6).

LB Novorro Bowman

Former: Oakland Raiders

Size: 6-1, 242

Age: 29

Projected guaranteed/year: $2M-2.5M

UFA Rank: UFA29/LB1

Take: This is the part of free agency that makes me uncomfortable (and much more of a draft guy). Bowman was a top-three linebacker in his prime, but he is going to turn 30 this offseason and has dealt with significant injury in the past. While he likely would be an upgrade from both Jon Bostic and Antonio Morrison, I would rather the Colts go in a younger direction. They likely will.

LB Christian Jones

Former: Chicago Bears

Size: 6-3, 245

Age: 26

Projected guaranteed/year: Veteran minimum. According to Spotrac, the 2018 veteran minimum contract for a player with Jones’ accrued time in the league would be $790K.

UFA Rank: N/R

Take: If Jones were to sign on with the Colts, it would be for a chance to compete to start, but it would be far from guaranteed. In four years in Chicago, Jones did start 31-of-63 games. He is durable, only missing one game in his career. However, he has never been more than mediocre. PFF actually ranked him last in run-stop percentage (6.3) among free agent inside linebackers.

CB Justin Bethel

Former: Arizona Cardinals

Size: 6-1, 200

Age: 27

Projected guaranteed/year: Veteran minimum. According to Spotrac, the 2018 veteran minimum contract for a player with Bethel’s accrued time in the league would be $790K.

UFA Rank: N/R

Take: Like PFF’s suggestion of Jordan Todman on offense, this would be a special teams move. Bethel doesn’t provide much as a corner, but he is among the best special teamers in the league. He is a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time First-Team All-Pro. Although Bethel has been a premium special teams player for the Cardinals, the emergence of rookie Budda Baker may lead to the Cardinals moving on from Bethel.

CB Trumaine Johnson

Former: Los Angeles Rams

Size: 6-2, 213

Age: 28

Projected guaranteed/year: $1.8M-2M

UFA Rank: UFA16/CB2

Take: Johnson is the type of cornerback that Colts general manager Chris Ballard looks for — lengthy, with ball skills and playmaking ability. However, let’s factor in Johnson's age and price tag in comparison with existing Colts free agent cornerback Rashaan Melvin. Melvin already has been a standout for the Colts for two seasons, and Johnson is reputable as a good cornerback as well. Johnson actually was hit with the franchise tag by the Rams in 2016 and 2017. Both corners are 28 (Johnson is just a few months younger), and both are expected to be expensive to sign. Would it be smarter for the Colts to invest in the guy that already has done well for them in Melvin, or should they go with the player who may have higher upside in Johnson?

CB Johnathan Joseph

Former: Houston Texans

Size: 5-11, 185

Age: 33

Projected guaranteed/year: $1.4M-1.7M

UFA Rank: N/R

Take: This goes against what the Colts are trying to do. A team looking to add Joseph would either A) be looking to make a title run right now by picking up proven players who don’t have a long-term outlook, or B) would be Joseph’s existing team and are looking to continue what they have had going. The Colts are neither of those. They are investing in young, ascending players who factor into the team’s long-term growth.

S Darius Butler

Former: Indianapolis Colts

Size: 5-10, 192

Age: 31

Projected guaranteed/year: Veteran minimum. According to Spotrac, the 2018 veteran minimum contract for a player with Butler’s accrued time in the league would be $915K.

UFA Rank: N/R

Take: I am 50/50 on whether I think the Colts will attempt to re-sign Butler (if he wants to return). On one hand, he is on the wrong side of 30 and wasn’t quite the playmaker that he has been for the Colts in years past. On the other hand, he has versatility and can provide depth at nickel and free safety. He also is excellent in the locker room and is one of their main defensive leaders.