The Colts have a ton of problems to resolve this offseason. Of course the most important ones are both who will be the head coach, and who will be the quarterback next year, but the team also has to address an important impending free agent class, including several starters.
Yannick Ngakoue, edge rusher
Stats: 12 sacks, 44 total pressures.
Overachieving and misleading sack numbers were the key of Yannick Ngakoue’s season. This was a player that certainly did not pass the eye test. If like me, you had to suffer through the entirety of this Colts’ season, then you probably noticed that Ngakoue was a non-factor most of the time, and was just stonewalled one too many times. He did get home every now and then, but the advanced stats support the eye test. Ngakoue ranked 11th in Sacks / Pressures ratio. Basically what this number tells you is how sustainable a player’s sack tally really is, with the basic logic being: More pressures result in more sacks over the long term, but in a short sample a player might get lucky here and there and rack up sacks while not being a particularly productive pass rusher.
Verdict: Let go
Ngakoue will probably be far too expensive to keep as a rotational pass-rusher, which would be the preferred role I would give him, and he will most likely follow defensive coordinator Gus Bradley wherever he goes, so the verdict is to just let him walk. This one hurts more because he was acquired via trade and we gave up breakout cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, who would have been a great piece to have in this rebuild.
Brendan Facyson, cornerback
Stats: 26 total tackles, 6 pass deflections, 25 receptions allowed on 37 targets.
Facyson started off the season as one of the most resisted players by the fanbase, not only because of bad play but because he was taking snaps away from Isaiah Rodgers. He improved over the course of the year, and was somewhat solid as a rotational cornerback.
Verdict: Let go
Facyson, like Ngakoue, will probably follow Gus Bradley wherever the DC goes. He is a solid rotational cornerback but nothing more, and at 29-years old it’s not like he has a lot of football left in him so he will probably not be interested in a rebuild.
Bobby Okereke, linebacker
Stats: 151 total tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries
What a year it was for Bobby Okereke, stepping in for the injured Shaquille Leonard and forming a dominant linebacker tandem with Zaire Franklin, especially good against the run. Still, while Shaquille Leonard is easily the best linebacker in the NFL at creating turnovers, Okereke might be among the worst, so his value is somewhat limited here.
Verdict: Re-sign if AAV < 5M, otherwise let go.
With Zaire Franklin under contract next year and Shaq hopefully returning, there is no reason to overpay for Okereke considering the amount of holes on the roster. If his market is rather cold and the Colts manage to get him for less than 5 million a year then I would get him back, otherwise just let him go.
Rodney McLeod, safety
Stats: 96 tackles, 8 pass deflections, 2 interceptions
McLeod had himself a really good season in the Colts’ backfield, and they formed a nice pair with 7th round pick Rodney Thomas. Embracing the rebuild, the Colts might want to give more playing time to both Julian Blackmon and Nick Cross, instead of the 33-year old veteran.
Verdict: Let go
McLeod is a great veteran and locker room presence who should be scooped up in no time by a team with playoff aspirations looking for some quality safety depth. The only point for his return would be in a mentor role to Thomas and Cross, but given that he obviously still can play at a decent level I would not count on that happening.
Parris Campbell, wide receiver
Stats: 681 scrimmage yards, 3 touchdowns, 17 games played
FINALLY Parris Campbell managed to remain healthy an entire season, playing all seventeen games on the year. 681 scrimmage yards and three scores on this garbage offense is actually really solid, and he seemed electric whenever he got the ball. While he certainly is not the player the Colts envisioned him to become when they drafted him, he can still be productive.
Campbell will probably be cheap considering his lengthy injury history and his lack of overall production (under 100 receptions and 1.000 yards on his career), so the Colts would be wise to bring him back to cover that #4 receiver spot.