Depending on who you ask, the Indianapolis Colts may have their work cut out for them this offseason with seven free agents among PFF’s Top 150 players set to hit 2024 free agency:
11. WR MICHAEL PITTMAN JR., INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Plenty of holes will be poked in Pittman’s game as he gets set to enter free agency, with some athletic limitations keeping his average depth of target down, especially compared to predominantly outside wide receivers.
Nonetheless, Pittman is as reliable a possession receiver as there is in the NFL, and it’s also fair to wonder if a carousel at quarterback in Indianapolis has limited his production. Pittman earned a career-best receiving grade with 100-plus catches and 1,000-plus receiving yards — that gets a player paid even if there is a perceived ceiling to his game.
41. CB KENNY MOORE II, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Moore pushed for an early re-up on the four-year extension he signed in 2019, but his efforts were to no avail as the Colts worked to overhaul the roster and get younger in the secondary, in particular. Fortunately for Moore, he earned a career-high 79.3 coverage grade along with a 71.5 run-defense grade — his sixth straight season going above 65.0.
At 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, Moore never backs down from a tackle opportunity, doing a good job as the force defender to keep ball carriers inside or running the alley to make the tackle himself when called upon — a key role in Gus Bradley’s Cover 3 defense.
Moore became just the 28th player in NFL history to record two pick-sixes in the same game with his outstanding Week 9 performance and can now look to capitalize on a strong season. However, it will be an uphill battle in a completely dormant slot cornerback market.
51. DI GROVER STEWART, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Stewart served a six-game suspension this season for performance-enhancing drugs but returned in Week 14 for the stretch run. On/off splits are largely noise, but Indianapolis ranked in the top half of the NFL in expected points allowed per rush with Stewart and dead last in the games without him in the lineup. Stewart’s presence frees up rushers around him because he takes on double teams and clogs up the middle.
66. S JULIAN BLACKMON, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Blackmon started for two seasons in college at cornerback, and he has logged more than 350 slot snaps since 2022. In Gus Bradley’s Cover 3-heavy scheme, Blackmon spent plenty of time as a single-high safety. Almost half of his snaps were down in the box in 2023.
Blackmon appears to be a better fit near the line of scrimmage due to his average recovery speed, but his plus lateral movement and solid ball skills from his days spent as a cornerback show up more often when closer to the line of scrimmage. Blackmon’s 30 defensive stops in 2023 were more than his career total before this season, and he missed a career-low 7.4% of tackle opportunities.
91. QB GARDNER MINSHEW, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Minshew accompanied Colts head coach Shane Steichen on his move from Philadelphia to Indianapolis and made the most of his opportunity once he was quickly made the full-time starter following a season-ending injury for Anthony Richardson in Week 5. Minshew generally takes what the defense gives him and matriculates the ball down the field with underneath throws. The Colts have run the most RPOs of any team in the league this season, which leads to simpler “either-or” decisions and schemed-up first reads. However, when necessary, Minshew isn’t afraid to uncork the ball to the intermediate and deep parts of the field.
At the same time, Minshew still has an erratic nature to his game, with frantic feet in the pocket that at times cause him to miss throwing windows or lead to inaccurate throws. Minshew has put the ball in harm’s way far too many times in 2023, but the high-variance nature of his play can also win games.
121. EDGE TYQUAN LEWIS, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
133. RB ZACK MOSS, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Chief among them is the team’s #1 wideout Michael Pittman Jr., who led the team in receptions (109, which was 5th most in the NFL), receiving yards (1,152) and touchdown receptions (4). His return is critical for ensuring the continued growth and development of 2nd-year quarterback Anthony Richardson, as well as the offense not losing its best receiver in the passing game. The goal should be to add to this core group, not detract from it.
The Colts should be looking to further complement Pittman Jr. this offseason at receiver, and it would be surprising if he’s not either re-signed or slapped with the franchise tag.
However, there are a number of other important free agents for the Colts including veteran slot cornerback Kenny Moore II (who’s coming off a Pro Bowl caliber year), run-stuffing defensive tackle Grover Stewart, and emerging young safety Julian Blackmon—all of whom it’s likely that Indianapolis wants to re-sign. However, each should also have their fair share of other interested suitors too—should they hit the open market.
Given Richardson’s propensity for injuries during his shortened rookie campaign (*whether simply unlucky or not), it also may not be a bad idea to bring Minshew back in a primary backup role again at quarterback—given the veteran already knows the offensive system, and the team won quite a few games with him starting in relief behind center.
Remember, if Minshew was better, he’d be an NFL starter somewhere else, but as a top backup, he provides a fighter’s chance on most game days.
Both Moss and Lewis remain nice depth and rotational pieces. Moss figures to be a higher priority given his breakout rushing season, and with star workhorse Jonathan Taylor having been a bit banged up last year (and arguably the need to keep him fresh throughout that lucrative new multi-year deal for extended longevity’s sake). Lewis is a nice versatile defensive lineman off the bench though, with a bit of pass rushing ability.