Since general manager Chris Ballard took over in 2017, the Colts haven’t been known to be big spenders in free agency. Ballard has more often than not opted for players on the second and third days of the league’s free agency period.
Now, that’s not to suggest the players Indy has acquired the last few offseasons haven’t been productive. As a matter of fact, some of the team’s most productive players during the past few seasons have come through the final waves of free agency.
But has it been enough? Let’s take a closer look into some of the team’s successful signings and those which haven’t been as successful.
Some of Ballard’s best signings include defensive tackle Denico Autry (20 sacks and 102 tackles from 2018-2020), quarterback Philip Rivers (4,169 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2020), defensive end Justin Houston (19 sacks and 69 tackles from 2019-2020), and defensive end Jabaal Sheard (15.5 sacks and 127 tackles from 2017-2019).
Where Ballard and the Colts have struggled, however, is finding playmakers on the perimeter. Wide receivers Devin Funchess, Kamar Aiken and Ryan Grant combined for a total of 467 receiving yards and one touchdown through their respective tenures with the team.
Ballard has also chosen to construct the majority of his team through the draft. This approach has undoubtedly brought a fair amount of success for the Colts’ general manager, selecting multiple Pro Bowlers in Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard and Jonathan Taylor, along with stars in Michael Pittman Jr., Braden Smith and others. However, on the flipside, players like Kemoko Turay, Parris Campbell, Tyquan Lewis and Ben Banogu haven’t been as productive as the team would’ve liked.
This season showed us the Colts still have some significant roster holes to address. Given that Indy will be without its first-round pick, which they sent to the Eagles as part of the Carson Wentz trade, it may be time for them to change their approach and start being more active through the first few waves of free agency.
With a need in several key areas — including wide receiver, left tackle, cornerback/safety, as well as a few others spots, there will be plenty of options for the Colts to choose from.
Wide receivers Davante Adams, Chris Godwin and Mike Williams — along with tight ends Zach Ertz, Dalton Shultz and Robert Tonyan are a few notable players who could hit free agency this offseason.
Whether Ballard is willing to pay top dollar for top-tier players remains to be seen, but to be consistent contenders, the Colts will likely need to be more active in free agency than they have in years past.