The Colts off-season is still young and there are still plenty of questions that need to be addressed. Our crew of writers broke down the most pressing questions — presented by Andrew Aziz.
Roundtable members: Andrew Aziz, Jake Arthur, Faraz Majid, Stephen Reed, Chris Shephard
Question 4: Who is the free agent you want to target, taking into account the player’s potential contract?
Chris Shepherd: Chiefs Guard/Center Zach Fulton
No one is talking about Fulton, maybe in part because few know much about him outside of Kansas City. He’s been used as their 6th linemen and has ended up starting 46 games in 4 years. The Chiefs are in what’s known as “cap-hell” and Fulton is probably pretty low on the list of priorities, he should hit the open market.
The general consensus is that he’s a very good pass blocker and a below average run blocker.
He’s exactly the kind of guy that Ballard might like, young, inexpensive with upside at a position of need and Ballard was on staff when the Chiefs selected him. I, like most others, would love to make a run at Andrew Norwell. Even if Ballard is willing to give out a record contract to a guard, Fulton is a guy that Ballard will give a look.
I don’t know if Mewhort is ever going to be healthy again. I don’t know if he’s going to receive a contract offer. In my opinion you bring Fulton in, slide him in at left guard and if/when Mewhort is back, let them compete. Worst case you have a guy who can fill in and offer quality play at all 3 interior positions which is something we haven’t had in recent memory. It won’t be hard to outbid the Chiefs, the question will be how many other teams have taken notice and will be vying for his services?
Jake Arthur: Jaguars Receiver Allen Robinson
I feel like I’ll get my heart broken by being all-in on Andrew Norwell, so I’ll give a different name. My guy is going to be Allen Robinson. There are rumblings that came out on Wednesday about the Jaguars franchise tagging him, but if they don’t the Colts need to take a look.
Let’s start with the fact that pressure and attention from defenses needs to be taken off of TY Hilton. When he’s not going, nobody else is either. Donte Moncrief hasn’t been the guy, and Chester Rogers wasn’t all that great in 2017 either. Hilton and Rogers are the only noteworthy Colts receivers under contract for 2018, as it currently stands.
Robinson has “Chris Ballard wide receiver” written all over him. At 6-3 and 211 pounds, he’s got the size. He’s also big and strong enough to be the “physical” receiver that the Colts hoped to have in Kamar Aiken. Robinson is a true WR1, and pairing him with Hilton, another WR1, will do wonders for the Colts’ passing game. What Robinson was able to accomplish with Blake Bortles as his quarterback shouldn’t be ignored.
Faraz Majid: Panthers Guard Andrew Norwell
As much as I want to say something more intelligent, as the previous 2 did, I can’t help but think the Colts need to pony up for Andrew Norwell. Norwell will be very expensive but it’s time to stop paying average talent a healthy chunk of money and start paying fantastic talent, elite level money.
The colts need to protect Andrew Luck and open up more running lanes for Marlon Mack and Co., it’s that’s simple, and this is the way to do it. I am sure Ballard won’t be shy with all that cap space if an impact player like Norwell is there. This’ll also allow the Colts to be more focused on BPA once the draft rolls around rather than forcing themselves to draft a guard or tackle at 3 (though a trade down and drafting Nelson still sounds appealing).
Andrew Aziz: Patriots Running Back Dion Lewis
While I have man crush on Andrew Norwell, for the sake of value, I’ll go with Dion Lewis. Lewis is a versatile running back with experience in McDaniels’ system and has played under McDaniels for the past few seasons. He had a fantastic 2017 in New England, averaging 5 yards a carry and carrying the team at times in the latter portion of the season.
He is effective between the tackles, outside the tackles, as a blocker, and can run a variety of routes as a receiver. He is the perfect all-around running back and is one of the best all-around backs in the league. Pro Football Focus rated him as the 5th best running back in the NFL in 2017.
With Frank Gore expected to depart, the Colts will need a good versatile running back to pair with Marlon Mack and Robert Turbin. Lewis fits that bill and shouldn’t take on a massive contract. I expect him to get a deal between 4M-5M per year for at least 3 seasons.
Stephen Reed: Cowboys Pass Rusher Demarcus Lawrence
The obvious answer here is OG Andrew Norwell. He’s the best OG available and would shore up the Colts weakest position group. Since everyone is likely to pick him, I’ll go in a different direction.
Another option for Ballard is to try to get pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence, even though there’s little chance he hits the open market.
The most realistic defensive option for Ballard to go after is another Cowboy, ILB Anthony Hitchens. Hitchens performed well in run defense but left a bit to be desired in pass defense. In addition, Hitchens has experience with assumed DC Matt Eberflus so the learning curve wouldn’t be as steep. One of the Colts biggest areas of weakness last season was their ILB position. Hitchens is still only 25 years old and could be a huge upgrade.
Who should the Colts target in free agency?
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