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Grading Colts’ first wave free agents

Taking a different approach this time, Ballard was fairly active during the first wave of free agency this time

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Gardner Minshew, quarterback, one-year $3.5M

“Steichen knows him well from his time with the Eagles, and the Colts know him well too as Minshew dismantled them Week 1 of the 2020 season completing 19 of 20 passes and adding three touchdowns. Minshew would be an excellent backup, he has experience playing for Steichen, and would be an amazing bridge quarterback. If the Colts manage to sign him for a contract longer than one season, they would be in a great position where if Minshew succeeds they could trade him next year and let the young rookie take the reins.”

This is what I wrote a week ago regarding the chance of signing Minshew, and it ended up happening as it just made too much sense for it not too. The Colts get their bridge/backup quarterback, and Minshew ends up with a coach that he is already familiar with and in an offense where he will not be forced to play outside of his strengths. I would have liked a longer contract in case Minshew ends up starting the entire year and playing well, as the Colts could have gotten some valuable draft capital down the line, but overall a great move.

Grade: B+

Matt Gay, kicker, four-years $22.5M

Longest contract ever given to a kicker in free agency, safe to say no-one was expecting that from Ballard right? Especially after Chase McLaughlin was solid last year replacing Rodrigo Blankenship. The Colts have not had a reliable kicker since Adam Vinatieri (not counting his last season), and the team probably knows too well how having a kicker you can trust affects a rookie quarterback.

Matt Gay vs. Chase McLaughlin last two seasons

Grade: B

Samsom Ebukam, edge, three-year $27M

This was the one that surprised me the most. Clearly moving from the flashy, but all in all unproductive, Yannick Ngakoue to sign Ebukam, who is the exact opposite. Ebukam is an outstanding run defender who can also hold his own as a pass-rusher, and the biggest difference you will see next season is that Ngakoue seemed to get 2-3 dominant snaps, and then just disappear, while Ebukam will not particularly break a play but he will have a positive impact on every single play.

Grade: A -

Taven Bryan, defensive tackle, one-year $3.5M

A former first-round pick who never managed to reach his full potential, Bryan was signed as a rotational defensive lineman. He had 23 total pressures and played a career high 642 defensive snaps for the Browns last season, so overall a solid signing to bolster the defensive line depth.

Grade: B +

Overall I really like what Ballard did to kick off free agency. Losing Okereke and Campbell hurts, especially after Parris finally managed to play an entire year, but Shaq Leonard will be returning to take over the starting linebacker job and Parris Campbell was not a good fit in Steichen’s offense. I think Ebukam will be a big upgrade over Ngakoue, and that Taven Bryan could have a really productive year. I am worried about the cornerback position though, as the Colts desperately need to make some moves in that position.