With a projected $86.2 million of cap space, the Indianapolis Colts have the potential to be a key player in free agency—should they so choose.
While general manager Chris Ballard has shown a general reluctance to overpay in free agency, instead electing to sign free agents to short-term, cost-effective contracts, there’s always the possibility that the Colts could make a splash or two.
Previously, I wrote a “Ten Top Free Agents for the Colts to Potentially Consider this Offseason” piece.
Although this next batch doesn’t contain as high profile of names as the previous article, there are still some impact players here for the Colts to look long and hard at.
So without further ado, let’s get to it:
Graham Glasgow, RG, Detroit Lions
Originally selected by the Detroit Lions in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Michigan, the 6’6”, 310 pound Glasgow has become one of the NFL’s better young guards.
The 27 year old has made 47 of a potential 48 starts over the past three seasons—including all 16 starts this past season (and also has experience playing center).
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription), Glasgow was their 10th best rated offensive guard in 2019 with a +74.1 grade overall—allowing 0 sacks and 25 total QB pressures.
While starting right guard isn’t a dire need for the Colts this offseason (i.e. it’s much further down the list), it is an area that could withstand to improve.
5th-year starting right guard Mark Glowinski’s play regressed this past season after a breakout 2018 campaign.
On a Colts offensive line otherwise comprised of four standouts, he was the one weak link.
Although the Colts can save $4.1 million by cutting Glowinski this offseason, they will presumably hope that he can return to the player he is just a year removed from.
That being said, Glasgow would be a good alternative—if the Colts elect to move on entirely from Glowinski.
Shelby Harris, DT, Denver Broncos
Originally selected in the 7th round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the 6’2”, 290 pound Harris has proven to be a shrewd signing for general manager John Elway’s run franchise—having also spent time with the Oakland Raiders, New York Jets, and Dallas Cowboys organizations.
A well-rounded defensive tackle who can provide some interior pass rush, Harris is coming off a season for the Broncos in which he recorded 49 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 28 QB pressures, and a forced fumble—making all 16 starts.
According to Pro Football Focus, Harris was their 20th best rated interior defender with a +76.8 grade overall this past year and is just one season removed from an elite +90.4 grade overall in 2018.
The Colts could use some help at the “three-technique” defensive tackle too, which general manager Chris Ballard has repeatedly stated really drives their defensive scheme.
While Denico Autry had another solid season, the play of veteran Margus Hunt took a dip, and former 2nd round pick Tyquan Lewis had an entirely forgettable sophomore season.
Still 28 years old, Harris figures to have a handful of impact years left to help any NFL team in the middle of their defensive line.
*Jason Peters, OT, Philadelphia Eagles
I am putting an asterisk by this one because it’s only contingent upon whether Colts veteran starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo ultimately elects to retire this offseason.
Otherwise, there’s no real need here.
However, if Castonzo retires, the 38 year old longtime Philadelphia Eagle, Peters, would be a nice veteran stopgap for the Colts at starting left tackle to “buy some time” to develop a long-term successor.
Peters is a former Super Bowl Champion, 2x First-Team All-Pro, 4x Second-Team All-Pro, and 9x Pro Bowler, as he’s consistently been one of the best players at his position throughout his 16-year NFL career (having previously starred for the Buffalo Bills as well).
Peters is still playing at an incredibly high level at starting left tackle and could provide additional veteran leadership in the Colts locker room (something that Ballard admittedly stated was lacking a bit last season as far as holding teammates accountable).
Peters started in 13 games last season for the Eagles, allowing 3 sacks and 21 total QB pressures.
Per Pro Football Focus, Peters was their 7th best rated offensive tackle in 2019 with a +81.8 grade overall—including a +87.3 pass blocking grade (4th best at the position).
He’s also a player that Colts head coach Frank Reich knows very well, having previously served as the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator (2016-17)—coaching Peters during their magical Super Bowl run.
In terms of potential Castonzo replacements, Peters should be high up on any list, and at his advanced football age, should garner the 1 to 2 year deal that has proven to be Chris Ballard’s ‘sweet spot’ so far in free agency.
Javon Hargrave, DT, Pittsburgh Steelers
Having been selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the 6’2”, 305 pound Hargrave is another player that could really help the Colts out at defensive tackle.
(He’s also a former teammate of the Colts Darius Leonard at South Carolina State.)
Hargrave started in 13 games for the Steelers this past season, recording 60 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 49 QB pressures, and a forced fumble.
Per Pro Football Focus, Hargrave was their 8th best graded interior defender with a +83.4 grade overall—having very positive grades as both a run defender and interior pass rusher.
As noted, the Colts could use an upgrade at defensive tackle to help anchor the middle of their defensive line. While Hargrave isn’t necessarily flashy, the 27 year old is one of the best all-around defensive tackles in the sport.
Karl Joseph, S, Oakland Raiders
The Colts have had success with former first round reclamation projects, as tight end Eric Ebron and linebacker Barkevious Mingo immediately come to mind.
As the 2016 first round pick of the Oakland Raiders, Joseph hasn’t made the flashy plays and quite lived up to the expectations of a player with his prior draft pedigree.
He started in 9 games last season for Oakland, recording 49 tackles, 3 passes defensed, and an interception—and was generally rock solid.
According to Pro Football Focus, Joseph was their 52nd best rated safety with a +69.9 grade overall—including a 12th best, +78.2 run defense grade at the position.
With Colts free agent safety Clayton Geathers unlikely to return, the Colts could use another safety as a potential replacement—as the team likes to use its safeties as hybrid linebackers at times in passing situations—with all three safeties potentially garnering playing time.
Joseph would join Malik Hooker and Khari Willis in a talented Colts trio at safety—while providing insurance given Hooker’s durability concerns.
Joseph would be well-suited for the Colts ‘Cover 2’ scheme, which allows the defense to split the safeties, and perhaps the 26 year old’s best football is still yet to come.
Maliek Collins, DT, Dallas Cowboys
As a former 3rd round pick of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, at 6’2”, 310 pounds, Collins has developed into a quality starting pass rushing defensive tackle.
He’s fresh off a season for the Cowboys in which he recorded 20 tackles, 4.0 sacks, and 48 QB pressures in all 16 starts for Dallas’ defense.
Of course, the defense that Collins just played in under ex-Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is very similar to the one the Colts deploy under their defensive coordinator, Matt Eberflus—who previously helped coach Collins in Dallas (2016-17).
Per Pro Football Focus, Collins wasn’t necessarily great last season all-around with a +65.2 grade overall, but he did boast a +77.7 pass rushing grade—which was the 10th best among all qualifying interior defenders.
Collins could provide the Colts some much needed interior pass rushing push, and he already should have a leg up on his learning curve—having prior familiarity with Eberflus’ Cover 2 defensive scheme.
Notice a theme? That’s the third defensive tackle listed for the Colts here because it’s no secret that it’s one of the team’s major needs this offseason.
Still only 24 years old, Collins is a little bit younger than some of his peers on this list though and perhaps has in-turn, a little more projectability and upside.
Like the others listed, he can immediately upgrade the Colts at defensive tackle.
Vic Beasley, DE, Atlanta Falcons
Just looking it over, Beasley’s free agent file is an interesting one.
Formerly the 8th overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, Beasley has been up-and-down to start his NFL career.
He recorded a whopping 15.5 sacks in just his second season in 2016, and to his credit, he had a productive season on paper with 42 tackles, 8.0 sacks, 36 QB pressures, and 2 forced fumbles in 16 games (15 starts) during 2019.
However, in his other three NFL seasons, he never recorded any more than 5.0 sacks in any of them.
Pro Football Focus also shows that his last year’s statistical production may have been better than his actual effectiveness, as he was their 128th best rated edge defender with a +58.9 grade overall.
In fact, since Beasley was named a First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowler in 2016, Pro Football Focus has given him three straight seasons of mediocre grades.
At 6’3”, 246 pounds, Beasley is the type of speedy, undersized pass rusher that could intrigue the Colts, and he’s a natural fit in their Cover 2 defensive scheme on the friendly confines of the fast Lucas Oil turf.
Maybe there’s a potential Colts connection here too, as former Colts pass rushing great (and late career Atlanta Falcon) Dwight Freeney helped mentor Beasley previously for the 2016 NFC Champion Falcons and could possibly help vouch for the young pass rusher’s talent and work ethic.
The prior production and draft pedigree are still there, but it also raises a red flag as to why the Atlanta Falcons already announced that they weren’t going to re-sign the 27 year old pass rusher—instead of just quietly letting him hit the market like most other teams do who have already moved on from former players (maybe it was just to give him a head start?).
Beasley certainly isn’t someone the Colts should break the bank for, but if he checks out from a character and work ethic standpoint, they could do worse than rolling the dice and paying him as a rotational pass rusher—with his 4.53 speed coming off the outside edge.
I really wanted to include Minnesota Vikings young cornerback Mackensie Alexander on this list, but upon further review, it seems his best position is slot cornerback—which is a spot firmly solidified by Colts standout cornerback Kenny Moore.
It just doesn’t seem like a great natural fit for both sides.