Now that the NFL free agent frenzy has completely subsided, teams have turned their focus to the upcoming draft. This final pre-draft period offers teams the chance to hold targeted visits and reach final determinations about their draft boards. It also gives each team a chance to determine which positions they feel that they can confidently address with their picks and which positions might need veteran attention.
The Indianapolis Colts are in a good position in that they should be able to come away with a handful of impact players in the first few rounds of the draft. They are in a bad position because there are so many holes to fill that it is unrealistic to expect that the draft will get the job done by itself. This could leave Colts general manager Chris Ballard to look back to free agency at players who remain on the open market and who can help create competition.
Seemingly every year, the Colts dip back into the free agent market after final cuts to add players they have targeted. This year the team has been calculated in how it has reached decisions about free agents in the early signing periods and Ballard has openly discussed potential compensatory picks in the 2019 NFL Draft that he may be protecting. If this is his long-term play, do not expect any noteworthy free agent signings until after the May 8 deadline passes.
Once the draft is complete and the May 8 deadline passes, the following players still deserve some attention from the front office. If they are still available, they could help provide competition and depth at their respective positions.
WR Dontrelle Inman
Unless Ballard uses more than one of his draft picks this year on a wide receiver, there will be legitimate question marks about who will fill-out the roster. At this point, Indianapolis does not have a legitimate big-bodied receiving option on the outside. Only Eric Ebron could possibly flex out to be a red zone and mismatch target.
While Inman is not as young as most of Ballard’s free agent targets, he is familiar to head coach Frank Reich and would know what is expected of him. While he is not to be mistaken with game-breaking talent, he could fill a short-yardage and red zone possession receiver role who can win on 50/50 balls.
DE Benson Mayowa
Indianapolis has already taken a look at Mayowa. It is entirely possible that the front office determined that they would look elsewhere and it is also possible that they’re waiting for the draft to determine which direction they would like to go. This year’s crop of pass rushers is not overly inspiring so there is a legitimate chance that Ballard could re-visit Mayowa in May.
As has been discussed previously, he is still only 26 years old, has shown flashes of the ability to get pressure on a quarterback, and is familiar with Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus.
DE/OLB David Bass
Bass has made his way around the league in his career but at 27 years old, he has shown the ability to play a support role on defense. At 6’4” and 257 lbs., Bass has the ability to play with his hand in the dirt at defensive end or can stand up and drop back into coverage. It is highly unlikely he would be considered for one of the team’s starting spots but the Colts could do worse finding defensive depth.
LB Navorro Bowman
While Bowman is 29 years old and certainly past the typical age where Ballard would consider signing him, he would be an immediate starter for the Colts’ new defense. He has better athleticism and range than any of the other options in Indianapolis currently and he could fill an important leadership role for the young players Indianapolis will likely pick in the upcoming draft. If he is still a free agent after May 8, signing him to a team-friendly contract wouldn’t be outside of the question.
CB Bashaud Breeland
Breeland has been one of the bigger-named free agents to still remain on the market to this point. He was in the process of signing with the Carolina Panthers only to fail his physical for a non-football related injury. The Colts have not been afraid to consider players who have failed physicals for other teams and could look to revisit their secondary if they are unable to find anyone in the upcoming draft to bolster this group. At only 26 years old, Breeland would immediately compete with Pierre Desir and Quincy Wilson for a chance to start.