According to PFF, Indianapolis Colts wideout Michael Pittman Jr. is the 2024 free agent that the team cannot afford to lose:
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: WR MICHAEL PITTMAN JR.
This is an easy answer. Pittman took his game to another level for the Colts this season, offering one of the higher floors as a big-bodied possession receiver who rarely drops the football and looks like the perfect safety net as Anthony Richardson develops at the NFL level.
Pittman’s 413 targets over the past three seasons are the sixth most in the NFL, and he put up a career-best 2.04 yards per route run in 2023 after a quarterback switch early in the season from the rookie Richardson to Gardner Minshew.
It’s a noteworthy recognition too for a loaded Colts free agency class that also includes safety Julian Blackmon, cornerback Kenny Moore II, and defensive tackle Grover Stewart among others.
That being said, when you factor in Pittman’s youth (26); consistent production (he led the Colts in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions last year, which his 109 receptions were the 5th most in the NFL; and overall positional importance (the NFL is a passing league where talented receiving playmakers are needed), as well as for soon-to-be 2nd-year quarterback Anthony Richardson’s continued development, it makes sense.
Michael Pittman Jr the last 3 seasons:— PFF Fantasy & Betting (@PFF_Fantasy) January 25, 2024
Who should sign the free-agent WR? pic.twitter.com/sQJCt3higw
Right now, it’s hard to envision a realistic world where the Colts don’t either sign Pittman Jr. to a lucrative long-term contract or at the very least, franchise tag him for the 2024 season. He’ll likely command a new contract that should be in-line with fellow prized free agent wideout Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals—both as highly productive big-bodied possession wideouts over the past few NFL seasons.
From the Colts’ standpoint, they should be focused on adding more playmakers to their current offensive group, not having to detract from them or use top draft capital to replace them. That means paying Pittman Jr. what he’s rightfully earned, or at the very least, for Richardson’s sake.