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Making Sense of the Colts’ Free-Agent Class

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

With free agency looming just under a month away, the Indianapolis Colts have several decisions to make when it comes to its 13 unrestricted free agents. All-time greats, underwhelming prospects and lifelong Colts pile up in the free market; putting the ball in the hands of Chris Ballard and horseshoe management. Fortunately for Indy, having over $80 million in cap space will not only give them the opportunity to sign anyone in the market, but also the chance to sweeten deals for the free agents who wore the blue and white last season. Let’s dive in on which free agents are no-brainers, who’re the tough calls and which ex-Colts have already packed their bags.

The No-brainers

Adam Vinatieri: As long as the 22-year veteran wants to lace up his cleats he should be wearing a Colts uniform. At the age of 45, Vinatieri has accounted for 2,487 points in his lengthy career; 1,329 in his 12-year stint with Indianapolis. While age has started to cause a decline in Vinatieri’s stat-line, he still knocked in 85.3% of field goal attempts — a top-ten rank in his career. Although Ballard has completely turned this roster over in just one year, there should always be a roster spot open for No. 4.

Rashaan Melvin: One of the very few bright spots in the overall disastrous Indy defense, Melvin had the best year of his young career in the Colts’ secondary this season. At the age of 28, the cornerback from Northern Illinois started in 10 games this season and had 13 pass deflections to go along with three interceptions. After floating around the NFL since 2013, Melvin has seemed to have found a comfortable spot in Lucas Oil Stadium. According to Pro Football Focus, Melvin was the 17th best cornerback in football with a score of 85.7. While he won’t be as cheap as the $725,000 he made last year, the Colts should make retaining Melvin a top priority.

Donte Moncrief: Don’t let the Moncrief of the last two years play into casting him away this offseason, he’s a much better player when No. 12 is under center. In his first two years with the Colts, Moncrief caught 96 balls for nearly 1,200 yards and 9 touchdowns. He was a tremendous receiver playing No. 2 to T.Y. Hilton and had us thinking of the next dynamic duo at receiver. His numbers have been disappointing the last two years, but without Andrew Luck it’s easy to say everyone on the roster regresses a bit. Two down seasons will lower his demand this offseason, but the Colts should value his potential with Luck set to return this year.

Frank Gore: The closest call in my books, the 34-year-old running back should be back with the Colts next season. In his 13-year career, Gore is undoubtedly a First Ballot Hall of Famer and continues to break the stigma that running backs are worthless past the age of 30. In three years with the Colts, Gore has run for an average of 984 yards a season and 3.8 yards per carry behind one of the most dysfunctional offensive lines in football. Should the Colts roll out the bank and revamp the offensive line this offseason, Gore should be suited-up behind them and serve as the feature back while Marlon Mack continues to develop.

Close calls

Jon Bostic and Barkevious Mingo: Two Colts brought into the organization last season, Bostic and Mingo had plenty of opportunities to give solid contributions in a weak front-seven. While neither popped off the page and had outstanding debuts with the horseshoe, both are still under the age of the 30 and can serve as solid rotational pieces if the Colts bolster their unit this offseason. Of the two, I like the odds of Mingo being retained more than Bostic — due to his fit in the new 4-3 scheme — but both should definitely be considered this offseason if the price is right.

Kamar Aiken: Is it fair to judge Aiken’s contributions in an offense that never got off the ground? While a 34.1 catch percentage is alarming, this offense will be facing a massive overhaul schematically and talent-base, so I see no issues in giving Aiken another shot next season. It also has to be taken into consideration that Colts have three wide receivers on the roster without Aiken or Moncrief, and I know everyone would hate to see another receiver taken in the draft (we miss you Phillip Dorsett), so let’s be cautious in removing all our receivers this offseason.

Jack Mewhort: A guy I considered in the no-brainer section for this piece, however, I have some concerns when it comes to Mewhort. While he is far-and-away the Colts’ lineman with the highest potential in my eyes, his knees are a big question mark. He’s ended the last two seasons on IR with the same knee injury and his health was a concern coming out of college. He has all the promise to be a solid player in the o-line for Indy, but if his knees are too worrisome for Colts’ management I see no issues in letting him walk.

Brandon Williams: After spending the last few offseasons shipping away their tight ends, I’m not convinced they should let Williams walk out the door. He was a solid option opposite pro-bowler Jack Doyle and caught 13 receptions for 121 yards. He’s not someone that’s going to be a game-changer at the position, but for a cheap price, I think he adds value at tight end.

Pack your bags

Michael Person and Pierre Desir: For these two, their value to the team was nothing more than filling in for positions where injuries were plentiful. While I’m sure they could be brought back in just as easily as they could leave, players like this travel around the NFL more than often, so I’d put my money on them playing elsewhere next season.

Scott Tolzien: It makes me so happy to put Tolzien on this list. When he was brought in from Green Bay I thought he was a solid backup to have behind Luck and his injury issues. What we got instead was a 58 completion percentage, one touchdown, and four interceptions. With Luck set to return and Jacoby Brissett under contract, I have no worries in saying goodbye to Tolzien.

Darius Butler: One of the final pieces remaining from the old regime from Indy, Butler should find himself a new home next season. After being with the Colts since 2012, Butler has slowly regressed and only managed to start in four games in an injury-plagued secondary. The Colts have spent the last year getting younger and faster, so expect the Colts to move on from the 31-year-old.