The start of legal tampering and free agency is less than three weeks away. Teams have begun negotiating with soon-to-be free agents in hopes of locking them down before they hit the market.
While the top free agents earn all the headlines, the tier three and four players often make the most impact. These five under the radar free agents could be targets for the Indianapolis Colts.
Andre Dillard - Offensive Tackle
With Bernhard Raimann hitting his stride towards the end of the 2022 season, the Colts may feel comfortable with him and start him heading into training camp. But every position needs some sort of competition, and Raimann’s play should not have guaranteed a Week One starting gig.
Dillard has been a reserve offensive lineman for the Eagles, starting at both guard and tackle. But with an expiring deal, the former first-round pick could be looking for a chance to play more frequently. The versatile 27-year-old would be the perfect option to battle Raimann and compete for a starting spot at left tackle or right guard.
Amani Oruwariye - Cornerback
Stephon Gilmore was the lone bright spot in the cornerback room last season, and the Colts desperately need an upgrade at the position. After a breakout 2021, Oruwariye was benched in week nine against the Packers.
Oruwariye may not be the stud cover corner, but he could provide solid depth for a room lacking it. Even after a down year, he’s worth a flier and a change of scenery could see a boost to his production.
Clelin Ferrell - Edge Rusher
Yet another disappointing first-round pick who could be hitting the market, Ferrell fell out of favor quickly in Las Vegas. He does not quite have the juice and explosion to be an every-down pass rusher. But Ferrell is a solid run defender off the edge.
While he hasn’t had the type of impact you expect from a fourth-overall pick, Ferrell could add depth to a young defensive line. If Yannick Ngakoue leaves town, supplementing the defensive line with cheap free agents and another draft pick could be the answer to fortifying the position.
Solomon Thomas - Defensive Line
Deforest Buckner is one of the best defensive tackles in the league. Paired with Grover Stewart, the Colts have one of the best starting duos in the league. But they need more from the reserves in order to sustain success. After only 10 career sacks, Thomas is set to be a free agent yet again. But one of his best seasons came under current Colts’ defensive coordinator Gus Bradley in 2021.
In 2021, Bradley used Thomas as a true three-technique defensive tackle and the former first-rounder racked up a career-high 3.5 sacks and 34 total tackles. If Bradley believes he can find that gear in Thomas once again, Ballard and company should make the call.
Keelan Cole - Wide Receiver
Perhaps one of the most immediate needs for Indianapolis is wide receiver. Parris Campbell is a free agent and the only formidable receivers on the roster are Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce. Cole is a six-year veteran who has had a productive career for an undrafted free agent.
Cole is primarily a backup slot receiver and return man, but can make an impact in several ways on the field. In 2020, Cole had 642 yards and five touchdowns on 55 receptions. He followed that up with 449 yards, averaging 16 yards per reception, in 2021. After a year rough year in Las Vegas, Cole could be a solid veteran presence in the Colts’ young receiver room while also upgrading the depth at the position.