The Indianapolis Colts are facing an extremely important off-season this year. The Colts have a few major questions at a few different positions including a big hole at the outside cornerback position.
The Colts last season signed Xavier Rhodes in free agency to be the teams starting cornerback on the outside opposite to Rock Ya-Sin. Rhodes was only signed to a one year contract and is therefore an upcoming free agent. Rock Ya-Sin was very up and down all year and couldn’t find consistent form. The Colts have the nickel position nailed down for a long time in their best corner Kenny Moore. The Colts also signed cornerback TJ Carrie in free agency last year to provide depth to the nickel and outside corner positions but again it was only to a one year deal so he is therefore going to be a free agent. The Colts drafted Isaiah Rodgers who was mainly a special teams contributor as kick returner but also played some snaps when starters were forced out of games due to injury.
The team could start Marvell Tell at cornerback but he opted out last year due to COVID-19 and only played in 13 games, starting just 1, the year before which was his rookie year. The Colts have other corners on the current roster but none have starting experience. Therefore, the Colts need to have a plan now that they don’t have a clear option on the current roster to start at cornerback next season.
Griffin is a former third round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Griffin is a former 2019 pro bowler and has been a starter for the Seahawks since his rookie year. He is a productive outside starting cornerback and has 6 career interceptions and 48 passes defended. Griffin had his best year last year snagging 3 interceptions and 12 passes defended. He fits what Chris Ballard looks for in his cornerbacks, size (6.0” and 194lbs), speed and ball skills. Griffin would likely come in and replace Xavier Rhodes on the Colts defense. He would likely be an upgrade at the cornerback position and also provide a veteran who is still only 25 and could develop further.
Factoring in his age and talent Griffin will likely be in line for good contract. Spotrac puts his market value at around $11 million per year. The Colts don’t have much money tied up on the defensive side of the ball outside of DeForest Buckner and Kenny Moore and need an upgrade at cornerback so adding Griffin even for his market value would be a smart move. An interesting nugget is that Griffin actually met with the Colts pre-draft in 2017.
Witherspoon is a former third round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Witherspoon didn’t start until October of his rookie year but ironically intercepted Carson Wentz in his first start. Witherspoon has been a starter for the 49ers in every year since and has been a reasonably productive corner. He has produced 4 interceptions and 24 passes defended in 47 games he has featured in. Witherspoon is a tall (6’3”) and well sized cornerback. He also possess good hands and speed for the position. He fits the mould at cornerback that Chris Ballard likes. Adding Witherspoon to the Colts cornerback room would be a great move and with some developing from Matt Eberflus and the defensive staff he could end up being a steal.
Considering his age, talent and experience Witherspoon is potentially in for a decent sized contract at around $7-9 million per year. The Colts need talent and an upgrade at cornerback so adding Witherspoon even for the higher end around $9 million per year would be a smart move. An interesting nugget is that Witherspoon actually met with the Colts pre-draft in 2017.
Jackson is a former first round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Jackson tore his pec during training camp in his rookie year and ended up on injured reserve. Jackson didn’t win a starting job for the Bengals until his third year in the NFL but since winning it he has stuck as a starter. Jackson has experience in the 4-3 defense having played almost exclusively that during his time with the Bengals. He also fits the Chris Ballard mould at cornerback with his size (6’0” and 195 lbs), speed and ball skills. Adding Jackson as a starting cornerback to the Colts team would be an upgrade and also a move like the other options mentioned above a veteran who is still young as Jackson is 28.
The only issue with Jackson is he injury history. Jackson has only managed one full 16 game season in his career so far. However, due to his injury history it may lower his likely price tag that he would demand in contract negotiations. Spotrac puts his market value at around $6 million per year which is most likely in part due to his injury history.
Awuzie is a former second round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Awuzie didn’t manage to start until half way through his rookie year but since gaining a starting job he has started for the Cowboys on the outside since. Awuzie played in a similar scheme to the Colts current defensive scheme during his time in Dallas. Awuzie ticks a lot of boxes with his measurables with his 6’0” and 202 lbs size, good speed and ball skills. He is relatively under the radar but has still managed to produce 4 interceptions and 37 passes defended in 49 games, starting 42 of them.
Considering his age, talent and experience Awuzie is potentially in for a decent sized contract. Spotrac puts his market value at around $8.5 million per year. The Colts need talent and an upgrade at cornerback so adding Awuzie even for the $8.5 million per year market value would be a smart move. Awuzie is also only 25 and has plenty of career left in him to develop even further.
Davis was signed as a undrafted free agent by the Los Angeles Chargers after the 2017 NFL Draft. He was waived and signed to the Chargers practice squad after final cut downs in 2017, he was then activated to the Chargers active roster two weeks later. Davis didn’t start a game in his rookie year but featured in 15 games. Davis didn’t win a starting job until his third year in the league, 2019. Davis is a very under the radar cornerback but in starting 35 games he has produced 5 interceptions and 32 passes defended. He has improved every year he has been in the league and 2020 was his best year so far. Davis is only 26 and fits the Chris Ballard mould at cornerback with his size (6’2” and 196lbs), speed (4.34 40) and ball skills.
One issue with Davis is he has previous for substance abuse. He was suspended two games in 2019 for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. However, considering Davis is still young and a rising talent he may be in for a decent sized contract at potentially the $4-7 million per year range. Adding Davis would be a very good signing as he would likely not cost as much as the other corners but would provide an experienced outside corner that could fight for the number one cornerback job.