By now, unless you are living under a rock you probably heard that quarterback Matt Ryan was benched in favor of Sam Ehlinger, a former 6th round pick that balled out in pre-season. Reportedly owner Jim Irsay had plenty of say in the decision (not to say that he essentially made the decision and then informed Reich of it), and if this move does not work out, and it is proved that this roster is not built properly to win football games in this day and age, the Colts could very realistically undergo a fire sale either by the trade deadline or in the offseason.
This is all made under the assumption that the Colts are embracing the rebuild and looking to start again with a young quarterback at the helm. If the Colts think they can win with Ehlinger at quarterback then I would not be making any of these trades.
Ryan Kelly, center.
Ryan Kelly has simply not been the same after signing that big extension, as his struggles from last year creeped off into 2022. Kelly is 29, perhaps entering the prime years of his playing career, and is signed to a lucrative deal for the next 3 seasons. Danny Pinter has been solid at center when Kelly was out, so the Colts might look to explore the market for Kelly.
Potential Suitors: Bills, Giants, Rams
The potential suitors for Kelly are teams that think their title window is open right now, and need help in the interior of the offensive line. The Bills’ longtime starting center Mitch Morse has struggled a bit this season, but is also signed through the next 3 years, so a trade to Buffalo is unlikely. The Giants have surprised everyone this season, and may be liking their chances in what is a weak NFC conference. Jon Feliciano is currently their center, and he is average at best. The Rams’ offensive line has been an absolute disaster this season, and they have prior history of not being afraid to make trades. Kelly would immediately be a massive upgrade for them at center.
Potential Return: Day 2 pick.
Kelly has an extensive track record as an above-average center, and taking away last season he has been durable throughout his career. I imagine his value being along the lines of a 2nd or a 3rd round pick at best.
Yannick Ngakoue, edge.
Ngakoue was acquired via trade in the offseason, as he has been among Bradley’s favourite players throughout his career. While he has not been bad, he certainly has not been the consistent pass rusher the Colts envisioned him to be, and the rest of the defensive line took a big step forward, making him less indispensable. He has just one year remaining on his contract, so the Colts might be looking to get value out of him while they still can.
Potential Suitors: Rams, Chiefs, Bengals
Every team in the NFL could use a reliable pass rusher like Ngakoue, and the teams I see the most trading for him are the Rams, as they have been getting almost no production from their edge rushers, the Chiefs, who could really use another consistent player on that defensive front, or the Bengals, who have almost no pass rush on the outside other than Trey Hendrickson.
Potential Return: Two Day 3 picks.
Because he has just one year remaining on his contract, Ngakoue’s value might be something along the lines of two Day 3 picks, including a 4th at best, and I would take that if I were Ballard embracing the tank.
Stephon Gilmore, cornerback.
Gilmore was also acquired this offseason, and he has been the Colts’ best cornerback this year and proved he can still perform at a high level. Thing is, he is 32 years old and probably not looking to play out his final years in the NFL in a rebuilding team.
Potential Suitors: Giants, Rams, Bengals
If the Giants are going all in, they should really consider acquiring Gilmore to help solidify their backfield. Jalen Ramsey and Stephon Gilmore could form the most dominant cornerback tandem in the NFL. Eli Apple has been terrible for the Bengals this season, so Gilmore would be a massive upgrade over him.
Potential Return: Two Day 3 picks / Day 2 pick
Because of his age, I imagine the return for Gilmore being something along the lines of two Day 3 picks or a Day 2 pick at best.
Matt Ryan, quarterback.
As Frank Reich said, Matt Ryan will be benched for Ehlinger for the remainder of the season, and like he also said, the Colts have not held their end of the bargain when they signed him, providing him no pass protection at all, and no running game. The problem with Ryan is also how bad is the injury to his shoulder joint.
Potential Suitor: 49ers
The only team that might be interested in Ryan is the 49ers, as their head coach Kyle Shanahan managed to get the most out of him, and Ryan is already familiar with his system and would be a really good fit in San Francisco.
Potential Return: Conditional Day 3 pick
The Colts should do right by Ryan and eating the most cap possible in order to get him a decent starting job in case he plans to continue playing. The only logical candidate is San Francisco, and all they would probably be willing to give is a conditional Day 3 pick.
Shaquille Leonard, linebacker.
This might be the most controversial one, as Leonard has been among the most visible faces of the franchise, and of Ballard’s tenure as the GM. From being touted as one of the worst picks in the NFL Draft, to making All-Pro teams and establishing himself as one of the best linebackers in the League, it has been an amazing journey for Shaq Leonard who is still just 27-years old. He has recently signed a massive extension, but considering how well Okereke, Franklin, and Speed have been playing, the Colts migh (a very long shot) consider trading him away.
Potential Suitor: Every single team that thinks they have a shot at the SB
What team would not be interested in such a talented linebacker with a resume like Leonard’s? He would immediately transform any defense he joins, and should be pursued by every single team with a chance to win it all.
Potential Return: Volatile, 1st round pick / Two Day 2 picks
There might be a situation where the other teams in the NFL don’t value Leonard nearly as high as the Colts do, resulting in an awkward bidding war where the Colts find no team willing to give up more than Day 2 picks for the All-Pro linebacker. The other problem is that if Leonard returns this season, and plays like an All-Pro again, why even consider him trading him? This is the most improbable traded player, but if the Colts really embrace the tank, I would not be surprised watching them explore the market for Shaq.
Kenny Moore, cornerback.
Kenny Moore has simply not been performing as expected in the new defensive scheme, and even though he has improved over the past couple of weeks, one can easily realize that he is definitely not as comfortable playing for Gus Bradley as he was with Matt Eberflus.
Potential Suitor: Chicago Bears
The perfect suitor for Kenny would be for him to go back to the defensive coordinator that managed to turn him into the Pro Bowl caliber player he was. The Bears are in desperate need of talent, and in no way would refuse the possibility of acquiring such a talented 27-year old player.
Potential Return: Two Day 3 picks, Teven Jenkins
Moore is mainly a slot cornerback with some considerable limitations, and is signed to a cheap contract for the next two seasons. I imagine a reasonable trade being Moore for two Day 3 picks including a 4th rounder, and guard Teven Jenkins, who is reportedly not getting along with new head-coach Matt Eberflus.