1. Who will be the offensive coordinator in 2024?
Jim Bob Cooter was the offensive coordinator last season and while there were mixed reviews you would assume that he would return in 2024. That doesn’t appear to be a lock as the Eagles reportedly have interest in Jim Bob Cooter to replace Brian Johnson as their OC. If these rumours are true, even if Cooter doesn’t go to Philadelphia, he could be looking to other places.
If Cooter is to leave, who would replace him? The only coach on the roster who could take over would be Cam Turner. Turner is the current pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach so a promotion from that spot would be natural. None of the other offensive coaches besides Tom Manning have any coordinator experience and many are actually quite new as position coaches. Manning has offensive coordinator in college for a couple of seasons, but given the fact that he’s just a tight ends coach and not a coordinator of any type, he would probably be behind Turner in regards to a promotion.
If the Colts were to look outside, there are a bunch of options that would make sense. Some names that have history with Steichen and would be available are:
- Jason Michael
- Alex Tanney
- Brian Johnson
- Pep Hamilton
- TJ Paganetti
All those candidates have history with Steichen and play calling experience of some sort or are young bright minds. If Cooter were to leave, I would bet my money that it’s one of those five outside guys or the two on the Colts that were mentioned, that replaced him.
2. Can the Colts keep Michael Pittman Jr?
The first question you need to ask to answer this is how much would Pittman cost? Last summer, I wrote an article projecting his next contract and I projected that he would make around $20.5M per season. The next question is can the Colts afford him? The answer is yes. The Colts enter next offseason with $58M in cap space and if you count draft picks and money that will be left aside during the season, you can assume that they have $45M to work with.
The major free agents include Pittman, Grover Stewart, Kenny Moore, Blackmon and Minshew. It will be tight for the Colts to keep all 5 guys around, but it’s likely that one of these players won’t remain (Moore being the most likely odd man out). If Pittman commands 20M a year, his cap hit for 2024 will most likely be in the high teens which means they’ll have an additional 27M leftover for the other major guys or street free agents. That’s important because Pittman won’t eat up the entire cap space. The simple answer is yes the Colts can afford to keep him and do everything they can to keep him.
3. What’s the biggest area of need to address?
If you count free agents as not being a part of the team, then the biggest area of need is cornerback, followed closely behind by receivers.
The reason I have cornerbacks as more important than receivers is because Josh Downs has major potential, more than Brents or any other cornerback currently signed for 2024 and beyond. He showed tremendous flashes as a rookie, more than any other rookie on the roster last season. The Colts might be young in this group, but if the Colts go into next year with JuJu Brents as their number 1, that’s not a successful plan. It’s also not fair to put a relatively raw player with big upside in a position to defend number 1 guys early in his career. He would be better served as a complimentary guy to a true number 1.