With the introduction of new head coach Frank Reich yesterday, the Colts can officially enter offseason mode. While there are still critically important staff hires to be made, the focus will begin to turn to how this front office can continue crafting a roster and culture that will be a contender for years to come. After listening to the press conference, reading a ton of analysis on Reich and his style, I began to think about what exactly we could expect to see from Frank Reich’s offense. That got me pretty excited.
The nice thing about the offseason is that it is all about optimism. Right now the future is wide open for the team. Every fan base can look toward the 2018 season with unbridled enthusiasm for what could be. That is what led me to the idea for this story.
What would my completely ideal offseason look like on the offensive side of the ball? Before you say that this scenario I am about to spin for you is impossible, let me lead with the fact that I am not making predictions.
I am also not thinking about the defense at all here, so some of the moves might be unrealistic simply because they don’t allow for the necessary development on the defensive side of the ball. Simply put, this is my dream scenario for the 2018 Colts offense.
The Colts were decimated by injuries down the stretch in 2018. While the defense bore the weight of the majority of those injuries, the offense suffered serious losses as well. Getting Andrew Luck back and healthy would be enough to make me happy, but if the Colts also had Erik Swoope, Denzelle Good, Deyshawn Bond, Ryan Kelly, Robert Turbin, and a host of others healthy that would be a big help.
Good and Bond are not exactly players who lit the world on fire when they were on the field. However, this roster from top to bottom needs depth, and these guys proved they are capable of stepping in when the starters cannot go. They aren’t long-term starting solutions necessarily, but the offensive line needs better depth and these guys being healthy is a start.
Erik Swoope was beginning to look exciting as a player because he had finally had enough time developing to start seeing results in his play. Then he went down with an injury. Jack Doyle is a solid player, but Swoope’s upside is higher and if he can stay healthy and perform well he could be a dangerous weapon in Reich’s offense.
I won’t spend much time talking about how important it is that Andrew Luck get healthy. Ballard and Reich can spout the “it isn’t about one guy” line all day long. I will agree, it isn’t all about one guy. But it sure is about him a lot.
Grab Key Players in Free Agency
The Colts will have an estimated cap space of $79.22 million to work with heading into free agency this offseason. This may not be the deepest free agency class ever, and a lot of the top talent will be retained, but there is a lot of room for the Colts to make some moves with that much money. Ballard’s primary aim will always be to grow the talent internally and build through the draft. While I don’t expect that to change, there are some guys they can sign that would be a big boost to the offense.
First up is Andrew Norwell. Fully apart from the idea of this dream scenario, this is a must-have player for the Colts. They need to get him on the roster whatever it costs. Let’s fix this line and continue to bolster it in the coming years with quality depth players.
I would be okay if they also added a player like Zach Fulton from Kansas City on the line. Fulton is a utility player who played at every position on the Chiefs’ line, and that kind of player being added as competition for a starting role, or quality depth would be huge.
Lastly, on the offensive line, I would like to see them attempt to re-sign Jack Mewhort. While his injury might make that prohibitive, if they could get him on a very friendly deal it would make sense to sign him. I have no illusions that he would be a long-term starter given his injury, but if he is cleared and healthy he could be an excellent depth player.
Next, up is the receiver position. I’d like to see them grab Allen Robinson. The Colts need a big-body receiver who can complement Hilton, and Robinson could be that guy. A capable red zone threat is not something Hilton has really ever been, and it is something the team desperately needs. Coming off an ACL tear he may have a slower start as he will be just a year removed from that injury when the regular season kicks off, but he is a young player who was able to look good catching passes from Blake Bortles. Give him Andrew Luck and we might see him explode.
The draft is pretty thin at the receiver position, so I’d be okay with the Colts double-dipping and grabbing another guy like Paul Richardson or maybe just re-signing Moncrief. I have been pretty hard on him this season, mainly because he acted like an obnoxious brat and was almost completely invisible, but if the Colts signed him to a one year prove-it deal, perhaps they could recapture the red zone effectiveness that he has shown when both he and Luck have been healthy at the same time.
At the running back position, the Colts have Marlon Mack, Matt Jones, Robert Turbin, Josh Ferguson, and George Winn under contract. I don’t really think there is a player that makes sense to pursue in free agency given the depth of running back position in the draft.
Draft Impact Players
If everything I just laid out came to pass, the Colts offense would be significantly improved. A lot of the failures they experienced last year were impacted by injury and poor scheme. Fixing those will go a long way. The real way to see a big jump in effectiveness is to draft some great talent.
In my dream scenario for the offense, the Colts find a motivated trade partner in the draft and deal their number 3 pick to the Jets. The Colts would trade from 3rd to 6th and get the Jets 2nd and 4th round picks as well. With that 6th pick, they would take Guard Quenton Nelson. That pick coupled with the acquisition of Andrew Norwell in free agency takes this offensive line from a liability to something resembling a strength with the exception of the right tackle spot.
By adding the Jets’ 2nd round pick via trade, it would give the Colts the opportunity to grab a defensive player with their own 2nd rounder after going offense in round one. But with the Jets’ 2nd round pick, I would have them grab running back Sony Michel. Michel just pops off the tape. He is a good north-south runner and his explosive one cut and go style is fun to watch. He would be a great addition to the backfield, and pairing him with Marlon Mack could create a truly dangerous rushing attack for the Colts behind a greatly improved offensive line.
Speaking of that offensive line, at the top of the 3rd round in this scenario, the Colts would be helped by a little bit of good luck. Offensive tackle Martinas Rankin is a quality prospect and is viewed as one of the top offensive tackles in the draft, and he is still on the board. At 6’5”, 315lbs, he is an imposing player and had the 3rd highest pass block success rate in the SEC last season. That would be a huge addition to the right tackle position as well as adding a guy who could grow and take over for Costanzo on the left.
All of these outcomes are completely within the realm of possibility as things that could actually take place. Whether they will or not remains to be seen, but if they do, this team would be hugely improved in a way that is immediately obvious to even the casual observer. Whatever happens, this Colts team has the draft capital and cap space to look very different next season.
What is your dream scenario for the Colts offense this offseason?