Michael Pittman Jr.
Putting up impressive numbers on a contract year is always an amazing thing to do for a player, and even most when you miss a single game and the entire offense collapses that day. #1 wide receivers that can catch balls all over the field are a rookie quarterback’s best friend: Mahomes/Hill, Burrow/Chase, Allen/Diggs... the list goes on and on, and Michael Pittman Jr. proved that while he is not at that same level right now, he is the closest thing to it, and a player the team will definitely want to keep around for the long term.
The season did not start off to well for Jonathan Taylor, as he held out the first four games with a dramatic contract dispute. The Colts gave him a three-year contract extension worth some decent money, and the All-Pro back finished the season off with a touchdown in six straight games. Taylor will also benefit a lot from playing alongside a quarterback like Anthony Richardson, who can also move the ball with his legs.
Perhaps the biggest winner this season for the Colts, Tyquan Lewis played on all seventeen games, between 40% and 50% of the snap share. He finished off with four sacks and a career high in pressures generated, establishing his value as a rotational defensive linemen in Gus Bradley’s scheme. Hopefully the Colts extend him for a longer period after a season like this, and he remains with the team, considering he also looks like a good guy to have around in the locker room.
Ebukam was signed mostly because he is an excellent run-defender, but he was also the Colts’ best pass-rusher from the edge, making the transition to Bradley’s defense seamlessly. The veteran defensive linemen played all seventeen games and was the edge defender with the most total snaps at 702.
Fries started the season as the Colts’ bandaid at right guard, and I had my doubts about him, especially a year after the right guard position was the undoing of the offensive line. The young offensive linemen quickly dissipated all my reservations about him, as he provided solid yet unspectacular play, enough to help stabilize the rest of the line.
Kenny Moore II
Kenny was also entering a contract year, and the veteran slot cornerback was not looking like the greatest fit in Gus Bradley’s defensive scheme. Rumours started emerging about a potential trade back to Matt Eberflus with the Bears, but Kenny’s reliable slot cornerback play shut them down fast and he is one of the locker room leaders, so the Colts might do well to retain him.
DeForest Buckner / Quenton Nelson / Ryan Kelly
They are all similar in that the veterans did not have a great 2022-23 season, either because of injuries or unspectacular play. However, the three of them were arguably the best players in the entire team, with Buckner the best, Nelson having a throwback season, and Ryan Kelly allowing just seven total pressures in the entire season.
Rodney Thomas II
The second-year safety started the year as the starter, yet because of the lack of big plays and some poor angles in the running game, he was later on benched for Nick Cross. Even when Julian Blackmon went down with a shoulder injury, Ronnie Harrison started alongside Cross.
Paye did not take the next step I envisioned of him this season. He was really good against the run, but a complete non-factor in the pass-rushing department. Paye finished the season with the lowest number of pressures generated among edge rushers with over 50% of the team snaps. Dead last, so yeah, do not be fooled by that inflated sack number, and let the numbers match the eye test: Kwity Paye is not a good pass-rusher in the NFL.
It started off so well for the veteran kicker, yet a shaky end to the season puts him on thin ice. Unless you are Justin Tucker, kickers are always a bad three-game stretch from being released, and the Colts will probably be keeping a close eye on Gay this offseason and training camp.
Darrell Baker Jr.
Baker Jr. started the season as the starting cornerback, was benched after Week 2, and then had another chance to get the starting spot only to get beat out by Brents and Jones. With Flowers returning from injury next season, further development from the rookie cornerbacks, and maybe even a high draft pick on the position, Baker’s playing time scenario for the next season looks bleak.
Stewart did not have a bad season by any means, it is just that a six-game PED suspension right on his contract year is the worst possible thing profesionally. The Colts will surely try and keep him around, but the suspension probably costed him a ton of money in contract negotiations.