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An early look at key Colts 2024 free agents

The Colts have some key 2024 free agents up for new contracts this upcoming offseason, and we’ll take an early look at them.

Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Unfortunately, the Indianapolis Colts’ 2023 season ended in heart-breaking fashion late on Saturday night, as the Houston Texans narrowly escaped in the closing minutes with a win.

With that being said, we’ll take an early look at some of the Colts’ key upcoming 2024 free agents with the official offseason rapidly approaching:

NFL: DEC 16 Steelers at Colts Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Julian Blackmon, Safety

Age: 25

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 202 pounds

Draft: 2020 3rd round NFL draft pick (Colts)

2023 contract: $1.57M (last year of rookie contract)

2023 stats: 88 tackles (65 solo), 5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, and 2 fumble recoveries during 15 starts.

Summary: The 4th-year safety had a bit of a breakout year for Indianapolis, as he allowed among one of the lowest passer ratings of all players at his position—and had four interceptions. Unfortunately, his season was cut short late with a shoulder injury, and the Colts sorely missed him in the regular season finale against the Houston Texans and C.J. Stroud, having had two busted coverages on passing touchdowns. The Colts may want to consider revamping this safety group as a whole, but Blackmon is the one player that looks like close to a surefire keeper right now in that positional room.

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Gardner Minshew, Quarterback

Age: 27

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 225 pounds

Draft: 2019 6th round (Jaguars)

2023 contract: $3.5M

2023 stats: Completed 305 of 490 pass attempts (62.2%) for 3,305 passing yards, 15 passing touchdowns, and 9 interceptions during 17 games (13 starts)—all career highs (aside from completion percentage).

Summary: Signed to be a valuable backup and veteran soundboard for top rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, Minshew was thrust into full-time starting duties due to a season-ending shoulder injury to Richardson. While Minshew has his shortcomings as an every week starter, he remains one of the top backups in the league and kept the Colts afloat in the AFC almost to the very end. Whether another NFL team envisions him as a starter, or he has an opportunity for potentially more playing time elsewhere, remains to be seen. That being said, given how well this relationship worked between both sides in 2023, it seems that the Colts would be interested in bringing him back to serve as Richardson’s top backup once again in 2024 given how he handled the role and his ability to give the Colts a fighter’s chance during spot starts in most weeks.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Kenny Moore II, Cornerback

Age: 28

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 190 pounds

Draft: Undrafted (2017)

2023 contract: $8.325M

2023 stats: 93 tackles (68 solo), 8 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions (2 returned for touchdowns), 6 passes defensed, and 1.5 sacks during 16 starts.

Summary: The veteran slot standout regained his Pro Bowl form for the Colts during 2023, as consistently their secondary’s top defender. He’s one of the league’s best slot cornerbacks in the business, and the advanced stats proved it. Moore should have his fair share of suitors, especially among NFL contenders (as the Philadelphia Eagles were reportedly interested in him around this past year’s trade deadline). However, the Colts just placed him as one of the infamous big player banners at Lucas Oil Stadium, meaning they envision him in their long-term plans going forward. This is a veteran leader the Colts will assuredly want to keep for what’s otherwise a very young secondary—especially with him continuing to play at a very high level again. However, does Moore feel the same way?

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Zack Moss, Running back

Age: 26

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 205 pounds

Draft: 2020 third round pick (Buffalo) (last year of rookie contract)

2023 contract: $1.153M

2023 stats: 183 carries for 794 rushing yards (4.3 ypc. avg) and 5 rushing touchdowns, as well as 27 receptions for 192 receiving yards and 2 touchdown receptions during 14 starts (8 games).

Summary: Occasionally filling in for injured starter Jonathan Taylor during the 2023 campaign, Moss set career highs in carries, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. While Indianapolis already has Taylor as its workhorse, having Moss remain in the backfield could allow the Colts to keep #28 fresher down the season’s stretch and to deploy a nice change-of-pace back behind him (as well as extra injury insurance). The Colts will likely want to bring Moss back, but it may come down to the price point. If he’s seeking what the Detroit Lions recently paid running back David Montgomery, he may have to look elsewhere to get it.

Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Michael Pittman Jr., Wide Receiver

Age: 26

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 223 pounds

Draft: 2020 2nd round pick (Colts) (last year of rookie contract)

2023 contract: $2.153M

2023 stats: 109 receptions for 1,152 receiving yards (10.6 ypr. avg.) and 4 touchdown receptions during 16 games (15 starts)—both the receptions and receiving yards were career highs and led the Colts during 2023.

Summary: Given his still youthful age, positional importance, as well as to the Colts—especially regarding Anthony Richardson’s continued development, Pittman Jr. is the team’s biggest upcoming free agent to re-sign. It’s a little peculiar that the Colts haven’t already reached a long-term extension with Pittman Jr, given their propensity to reach them early with other members of their long-term core, but he’ll be the top priority regardless. The big bodied wideout once again led the Colts in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions, and he’s a bonafide #1 wideout in this league—likely inking a ‘Tee Higgins caliber contract’ on his next deal, very likely being with the Colts. Worst case, if the two sides can’t reach an initial agreement, Pittman Jr. would receive this year’s franchise tag (~$21.67M).

Indianapolis Colts v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Rigoberto Sanchez, Punter

Age: 29

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 195 pounds

Draft: Undrafted (2017) (Colts)

2023 contract: $2.9M

2023 stats: 48.2 average yards per punt; 43.0 net average yards per punt; 21 punts pinned within opposing 20-yard line.

2023 Summary: Sanchez remains one of the better punters in the league right now, even if he doesn’t necessarily have as booming leg as some of his elite peers (instead using exceptional directional punting skills). He seems like a specialist the Colts more than likely want to re-sign given his age, performance, and value as a core special teams member.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Grover Stewart, Defensive tackle

Age: 30

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 315 pounds

Draft: 2017 4th round pick (Colts)

2023 contract: $10.25M

2023 stats: 41 tackles (23 solo), 5 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks during 11 starts.

Summary: Along with DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart teams up to form one of the best defensive tackle tandems in the sport. While Buckner offers the pass rushing push, Stewart serves as the run-stuffing interior force as the accompanying nose tackle. While serving a 6-game PED suspension, the Colts sorely missed Stewart’s ability to stop the run inside. When he returned, he once again played at a high level. Assuming the PED intake was indeed an accidental mistake, the Colts will assuredly want to retain him on a new multi-year contract as he’s a key veteran leader and standout on their defense.