According to NFL.com’s Nick Shook, the Indianapolis Colts are the ‘best team fit’ for Seattle Seahawks’ free agent veteran left tackle Duane Brown:
Offensive tackle · Age 36
The Colts have a clear need at left tackle and haven’t brought back Eric Fisher, who is currently a free agent after playing in 15 games in his first season in Indianapolis. Brown has chased a title in Seattle and come up short since forcing his way out of Houston in 2017. A return to the AFC South would mean two revenge games per year against his former employer, and with Matt Ryan now in the fold, a chance to again pursue a ring once he turns 37 in August.
The former 3x NFL All-Pro and 5x NFL Pro Bowler started all 17 games along the blindside for the Seahawks last season. Per PFF (subscription), Brown was their 37th best graded offensive tackle, receiving a +71.5 overall grade.
In pass protection, Brown allowed 8.0 sacks and 33 total QB pressures, but after holding out for a contract extension until just before the 2021 campaign started, he got off to a slow start—but ended up just allowing 1.0 sack and 10 total QB pressures in his final 8 starts. He definitely finished the second half strong down the stretch for those wondering whether he still has gas left in the tank playing one of the league’s toughest positions.
Now, Colts general manager Chris Ballard recently indicated that re-signed swing-tackle Matt Pryor, who played well in spot starts during 2021, would ‘get the first shot’ at starting left tackle next season.
That being said, the Colts were interested in re-signing Eric Fisher earlier in the offseason, presumably to serve as the starter at left tackle again, so it doesn’t seem like the door can be completely closed on adding a veteran blindside bookend like Brown to upgrade—at least for the immediate future.
I mean... what exactly changed between then and now where Pryor is now the undisputed starter entering 2022?
Brown may not be quite what he once was as an All-Pro caliber blocker, but he can still be a really good starting left bookend in this league—especially given how other elite veteran left tackles such as Andrew Whitworth and Jason Peters have aged rather gracefully in recent seasons well into their late thirties.
He also could come at an affordable market price, with maybe an annual salary of $7.5-10M annually on a two-year pact—which would coincide with new starting quarterback Matt Ryan’s restructured contract, and allow for the Colts to hit the ‘reset button’ thereafter, if necessary to get younger at both critical positions (while freeing up ample cap space).
Speaking of Ryan, while he has great pocket presence, and isn’t a complete statue like Philip Rivers back in 2020 for Indy, he doesn’t have great overall mobility and is primarily a pure pocket passer—meaning the Colts absolutely have to protect him up front:
Matt Ryan to the Colts is a great move for both team and QB. He will finally be playing behind a strong offensive line.— Jarad Evans (@PFF_Jarad) March 21, 2022
Matt Ryan's PFF grades last season:
Clean pocket - 90.4
Under pressure - 50.1
Ryan was under pressure on 40% of his dropbacks last season (2nd most in NFL)
Signing the veteran Brown would be another step in the right direction and add another standout to a unit that already includes All-Pros Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, and future Pro Bowler Braden Smith—with seemingly no weak links (*assuming Chris Reed is re-signed).
Simply put, he’d be an experienced short-term upgrade for a team that still needs one.