According to Pro Football Focus, the Indianapolis Colts have received an ‘above average’ free agency grade to-date:
Additions/players brought back:
DI DeForest Buckner (via trade)
T Anthony Castonzo (re-signed for two years, $33 million)
QB Philip Rivers (one year, $25 million guaranteed)
TE Eric Ebron
WR Devin Funchess
EDGE Jabaal Sheard
S Clayton Geathers
13th overall pick (via trade)
There seems to be a divide among Colts fans over the Philip Rivers signing. Some think they should have pursued Jordan Love in the draft, some think Jacoby needs another year and some like the addition of the veteran Rivers. In PFF’s eyes, we are in the crowd of loving Rivers to Indy. He was by no means polished in 2019, but he was still an average quarterback, whereas Jacoby Brissett was not. Rivers’ 73.6 passing grade ranked 17th among quarterbacks and his accuracy was far better than Brissett’s. On throws targeted 10-plus yards downfield, Rivers produced the eighth-highest rate of accurate passes thrown — a statistical category in which Brissett ranked second-to-last.
Re-signing Anthony Castonzo was a great move and gives Rivers a drastic improvement over what he had last year in Los Angeles. In every single season since 2014, Castonzo has ranked among the 20 highest-graded tackles in the NFL, with three of those seasons placing him in the top 10. If it weren’t for trading away the 13th overall pick for DeForest Buckner and extending him for over $21 million per year, Indy would be in the excellent category.
FREE AGENCY GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE
Now, there are several things to point out here first.
One, the Colts haven’t technically lost wide receiver Devin Funchess, edge Jabaal Sheard, or safety Clayton Geathers because those free agents haven’t signed anywhere else yet.
There seems to be a possibility that at least Funchess and Sheard could return to the Colts.
Two, the Colts’ free agency may not be exactly done yet, and there’s always the chance the team could be waiting out the situation for Seattle Seahawks edge Jadeveon Clowney and closely monitoring the veteran wide receiver and cornerback markets as well.
Three, the last line, that the Colts traded the 13th overall pick for DeForest Buckner and then extended him to a lucrative deal, seems like it should be weighed more into an “overall offseason grade”—not specifically free agency here since Buckner was never a free agent. (And I strongly disagree with any Buckner trade negativity as a whole. He’s an All-Pro—who’s only 26 years old and filled a major Colts defensive need, but that’s another discussion for a different day).
That being said, there are two key Colts takeaways.
PFF really liked the upgrade from former starter Jacoby Brissett to newly signed veteran quarterback Philip Rivers—and bringing back fellow veteran Anthony Castonzo as a left tackle bookend.
Rivers should at least be an average starting quarterback for the Colts—with the chance to be above average to good, reunited in head coach Frank Reich’s offense. Meanwhile, Castonzo has been rock solid for the Colts and is coming off arguably his best year. He should do an exceptional job of protecting Rivers’ blind side.
As such, both should really help the Colts offense in 2020, but Indianapolis will be facing the pressure of finding each veteran’s long-term successor sooner rather than later here.