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Look Into Free Agency For The Colts

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts will head into free agency with around $70 million in cap space. That amount gives Colts GM Chris Ballard plenty of room to make a lot of the moves he wants to this off-season. Ballard does have a few decision to make in terms of the Colts own free agents but after that he has the opportunity to address some of the teams roster needs in free agency. Here is a look at potential targets Ballard could look at to address the teams needs.

Haason Reddick - EDGE

Haason Reddick was signed to a one year deal as a free agent last year by the Carolina Panthers coming off his rookie contract in Arizona. Reddick formed a hugely impactful pass rushing duo in Carolina with Brian Burns and was a bright spark on an otherwise underwhelming Panthers defense. The former first round pick out of Temple had a slow start to his career struggling to find the right position on an NFL defense to maximise his talents. It wasn’t until 2020, his last year in Arizona, when he fully broke out as a pass rushing talent racking up 12.5 sacks and over 50 QB pressures. He was signed by the Carolina Panthers during free agency and continued his high level play in 2021 producing another double digit sack year and amassing over 40 QB pressures. Reddick is still only 27 years old.

Reddick’s biggest strengths appears to be his speed and explosion. He is a very active pass rusher off the edge, he’s shown the ability to bend round the edge. Reddick can set the edge well against the run and isn’t just a situational pass rusher but a three down defender who can be moved around and deployed from different positions. He really turned up his pass rushing ability in 2020 and 2021 after having a very slow start to his career. Reddick is a very good athlete, standing at 6’1” and 235lbs, the Colts would likely deploy him at the LEO position in Gus Bradley’s defense.

Joseph Noteboom - Offensive tackle

The Colts offensive line is a top 5 unit in the league and widely regarded as a elite group. If the line does have a weakness it is the glaring hole at left tackle. The team tried and failed to fill it last year with Eric Fisher who the team look unlikely to re-sign this year.

The Colts could go into the free agent market to fill and upgrade the left tackle position and bringing in Joseph Noteboom would do just that. Noteboom is a former third round pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 2018. Noteboom is a lesser known offensive tackle who has shown versatility in his NFL career having played both left and right tackle and along the interior at guard. Noteboom started at left tackle for the Rams at the back end of 2020 and allowed just 1 sack and 18 QB pressures in 8 games. He filled in at left tackle for the injured Andrew Whitworth in 2021 for 3 games and allowed just 1 sack and 5 pressures.

Noteboom was part of an offensive line unit that helped the Super Bowl winning Rams rush for 1,683 yards and pass for 4,642 yards and 51 total touchdowns. If the Colts do decide to sign a left tackle in free agency then acquiring Noteboom would be perfect especially with so much money already invested along the offensive line.

CJ Uzomah - Tight end

The Colts have a long term hole at the tight end position as Jack Doyle recently retired, Mo Alie-Cox has a very high ceiling but a limited sample in the passing game, injury history and is set to be a free agent which pours doubt on his long term future. Kylen Granson showed flashes of potential during his rookie season but isn’t ready for a full time starting role just yet. Enter one possible option, CJ Uzomah. Uzomah is a former fifth round pick out of Auburn for the Bengals in 2015, he is exactly the type of tight end the Colts need to add to their offense. Uzomah is a solid blocking tight end who shows flashes of field stretching ability and put up good numbers for the Bengals on their run to the Super Bowl. Uzomah has shown improvement each year he has been in the league. Uzomah would likely be rolled out in the Jack Doyle tight end role that the Colts ate now clearly lacking in after his retirement announcement last week.

DJ Chark - Wide receiver

DJ Chark was a former second round pick out of LSU by the Jaguars. Chark entered the league with massive expectations but he fell short of those when he only featured in 11 games and only managed 174 yards receiving and no touchdowns. Since his disappointing rookie year he has managed to produce at a much better level.

Chark, has been a quite under the radar wide receiver in the league, mostly due to poor quarterback play and being on a bad team. He has however still produced when it’s been asked of him and has still managed to average over 13.9 yards per catch for his career. If his 2019 season is anything to go off he has breakout potential still, he hauled in 1,008 yards and 8 touchdowns which were both career highs for Chark, despite having Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles as his quarterbacks. Chark’s main problem has been his injury problems as he hasn’t managed to play in all 16 games in season. Chark does fits what Chris Ballard looks for in wide receivers with his 6’4” and 210lbs and blazing 4.3 speed. Adding Chark to the Colts wide receiver group would give the offense a fast big bodied wide receiver who can take the top off the defense and go up and get the ball in contested catch situations.

Casey Heyward Jr - Cornerback

The Colts secondary is very inconsistent, there’s games where they shut down the opponents receivers and then there’s games where they get destroyed down the field. The Colts have Pro Bowler nickel corner Kenny Moore and Rock Ya-Sin penned in at starting cornerback spot heading into the 2021 season but after that there isn’t much certainty.

Rock Ya-Sin is coming off a very solid year, Xavier Rhodes is set to be a free agent and Isaiah Rodgers filled in admirably due to injuries to Ya-Sin and Xavier Rhodes. The Colts could do with adding a reliable veteran cornerback to the group. Casey Heyward is a former second round pick from Vanderbilt for the Green Bay Packers. Heyward has played under Gus Bradley for the last 5 years so understands the defensive scheme very well.

He isn’t the typical Chris Ballard cornerback mould but does have great play recognition and good ball skills (24 interceptions and 109 passes defensed in his career). Adding Heyward to the Colts cornerback group would be a huge boost and would give the Colts a veteran teacher for Bradley in the cornerback room. It would however also spell the end for Rhodes in Indianapolis.