To call this NFL offseason strange would be an injustice. A pandemic has completely changed team summer programs and limited access to players. This is part of the reason Jadeveon Clowney is still a free agent (also because he’s a horrible negotiator and expects more than he’s worth) and also why numerous former Colts are still without teams. All the way back in March, Kevin Bowen reported on Colts free agents who were still available after the initial signing blitz subsided.
Each of the players he listed are still free agents today.
WHO DID THE COLTS LOSE?
The two players who left the Colts, that hurt most, are Joe Haeg and Josh Andrews. They represented the most reliable and experienced offensive line depth on the 2019 roster. Without them, one of the best offensive lines in the NFL has to feel more concerned about an injury to one of its starters.
The other big name the team lost was tight end Eric Ebron. His career story is incredibly awkward. He didn’t have a great relationship with the city of Detroit, in part because he was never able to live up to his draft billing with the Lions. He exploded with the Colts in his one season catching passes from Andrew Luck — breaking franchise records.
Without Luck, Ebron was pedestrian. Jacoby Brissett struggled to find him or to get him involved (as he did with most receiving weapons on the team), and when Brissett did manage to target him, Ebron had a horrible case of the drops — a problem he’s battled throughout his career.
The last straw for Ebron was when he announced to the team that he had been playing on two bad ankles and concluded that it was in his best interest to shut it down, essentially placing himself on injured reserve. This was a total surprise to everyone, since he hadn’t been a regular on the injury report and didn’t visibly show signs of injury. Fans and the Colts front office took it as quitting on the team — as did teammate T.Y. Hilton.
Hilton struggled through injuries in 2018 and 2019. He missed multiple games and a lot of time at practice with a nagging calf injury. This is the same Hilton who played through high and low ankle sprains to keep a late-season playoff push alive in 2018. When he was asked about whether he’d considered going to injured reserve shortly after Ebron’s announcement he said it was “never a question.”
He told ESPN’s Mike Wells, “I would never quit on my team. I signed up for 16 games. Some guys may shut it down and call it quits. I don’t do that.”
Remember that earlier in the season Ebron complained that he wasn’t getting targeted enough. He missed only one practice due to ankle injury all year and the minor issue from training camp wasn’t considered serious. He also snapped at media when asked about drops in a home loss to the Dolphins.
All of this is to say that, despite incredible athletic gifts, many in Indianapolis won’t miss him.
The joke is on Ebron, really. He’s going to a team that arguably has a worse quarterback situation. Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers are certainly on the same level or tier of quarterback play, but Big Ben has struggled with injuries and has to be considered more likely to miss time. Throw in that the Colts have a considerably better backup plan at quarterback and Ebron’s actions have landed him in what could be the worst quarterback situation of his entire NFL career.
WHICH COLTS FREE AGENT WOULD YOU BRING IN FOR TRAINING CAMP?
The two free agents who have had the biggest impact with the Colts are Adam Vinatieri and Jabaal Sheard. It seems very unlikely that Vinatieri will return after the Colts chose to keep Chase McLaughlin around and have also signed the best kicker in college football last year, Rodrigo Blankenship.
Sheard would be an incredible luxury to have, but may not be interested in signing if he isn’t a shoe-in to start. The Colts could also be looking at getting their younger ends more involved this season.
Safety Clayton Geathers showed promise before a neck injury that led to surgery to fuse vertebrae in his neck — much like Peyton Manning had done before he was allowed to leave for the Broncos. Still, he is a veteran and a strong box safety presence who could push the younger players in training camp.
When the Colts drafted Jonathan Taylor, it made it incredibly difficult to imagine them re-signing Jonathan Williams. It’s too bad really, as Williams seems like a player who simply needs his opportunity. He knows he won’t get a chance to play much in Indianapolis and likely will look elsewhere.
Receivers Dontrelle Inman and Chester Rogers are also in this unsigned group. Inman is now 30 years old and has been on and off of the roster over the last two seasons. The Colts drafted big body receivers Michael Pittman Jr. and Dezmon Patmon, making it unlikely that Inman is re-signed. T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Parris Campbell, Marcus Johnson and Daurice Fountain are also still on the team, so it’s even more difficult to imagine that Inman has a chance to stick on the regular season roster.
Rogers is an interesting case, though. His primary use was as a punt returner on special teams over the last couple of seasons. He did get a few looks as a depth option in the passing game. Signing Rogers would likely not cost a lot, and it would be an insurance policy in case of injury in the return game. He also has more experience than anyone on the team other than Hilton and maybe Pascal.
Which of the players from this group would you bring into camp to compete?
Which Colts free agent would you sign to compete in training camp?
This poll is closed
S Clayton Geathers
WR Dontrelle Inman
WR/PR Chester Rogers
DE Jabaal Sheard
K Adam Vinatieri
RB Jonathan Williams