INDIANAPOLIS – The list is long in quantity, and also in quality.
We’ve talked about the ‘win now’ feel to the 2020 Colts, and their financial books would indicate that as well.
On the list of unrestricted free agents for the Colts entering this season, there’s potentially 11 or 12 starters.
Contract years galore are on both sides of the ball for the Colts this fall. And the possibility of a future salary cap (or caps) being impacted by COVID-19 is another confusing layer thrown onto some of these pending decisions.
Here is the long list of notable unrestricted free agents for the Colts in 2020:
- QB-Philip Rivers (Age: 39): Officially, this is a contract year for Rivers, even though both sides of the parties are thinking this marriage will last through 2021. Still, the Colts (wisely) gave Rivers just a one-year deal this offseason. If Rivers has another rocky season, or has a change of heart passion wise, the Colts do not have another $25 million on the books at starting quarterback.
- QB-Jacoby Brissett (Age: 28): This will be Brissett’s first actual contract year with the Colts. Just days before the start of the 2019 season, the Colts gave Brissett a hefty two-year contract extension. Brissett carries an astonishing $21 million cap hit (the 20th highest of any NFL player) this season. Obviously, the goal for him in 2021 will be trying to find a spot where he can compete for another starting opportunity.
- RB-Marlon Mack (Age: 25): It’s amazing how one draft pick can totally shift your thinking on a player’s future. That’s the case with Mack. The selection of Jonathan Taylor has really clouded Mack staying in Indy past 2020. Mack is still young enough to attract other teams wanting him on a second contract. Here with the Colts, the lead back role that Mack had in Indy in 2018 and 2019 won’t be available with Taylor in the building.
- FB-Roosevelt Nix (Age: 29): A fullback! Yes, the Colts do have a true fullback in 2020. It will be interesting to see if Frank Reich finds success in using one, and wanting this position to become a staple on the 53-man roster in future years.
- WR-T.Y. Hilton (Age: 31): We know what Hilton has said about wanting one more contract with the Colts, before retiring from football. This is a critical year for Hilton in proving his durability again, and earning that desired multiple year deal from the only team he has played for in the NFL. What Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell look like this season could impact Hilton’s next contract.
- TE-Trey Burton (Age: 29): A new No. 2 tight end arrives in Indy after being cut by the Bears, with multiple years still left on his contract. Burton was really banged up last season. If healthy, the Colts see a very valuable role for him though, with his history playing for Frank Reich certainly helping things. The future at tight end in Indy isn’t crystal clear (Jack Doyle, 30, signed a 3-year extension last December).
- OT-Le’Raven Clark (Age: 28): Clark is the most recent Ryan Grigson draft pick still hanging onto a roster spot. The Colts re-signed Clark in the spring, giving them at least some backup tackle, with starting experience and familiarity, still on the roster.
- C-Ryan Kelly (Age: 28): Is an extension coming for Kelly before the start of the season? Maybe the uncertain cap situation for next year puts that on hold. But he seems destined to get a second contract with the Colts and become one of the highest paid centers in the NFL. The Colts have had extension talks with Kelly’s representation.
- DE-Justin Houston (Age: 32): The veteran Houston did not hit a 30-year-old wall in his first season with the Colts. He played all 16 games for the first time since 2014 and also recorded double-digit sacks for the first time in five seasons. The Colts have some options, but no unquestioned choice to replace Houston.
- DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad (Age: 26): While the Colts have struggled a bit to hit solidly on drafted defensive linemen, Muhammad has been a nice find as a claimed undrafted free agent in 2018, especially on run downs. Muhmmad, who the staff loves for his motor and effort, has been needed to start 8 games over the last two seasons.
- DL-Denico Autry (Age: 30): We knew a new era of frontline defensive linemen was coming for the Colts. Gone are Margus Hunt and Jabaal Sheard, with a couple of other older D-line guys on this list (Houston and Autry). The versatility of Autry is intriguing and he’s been a nice signing by Chris Ballard.
- DT-Sheldon Day (Age: 26): It’s a one-year deal for the Indy native. Seeing Day start with the Colts is a bit difficult, but he should factor into the rotational bodies that Matt Eberflus loves to use. Day did start for San Francisco during their run to the Super Bowl last season.
- DT-Grover Stewart (Age: 27): The big man in the middle emerged as a solid 13-game starter for the Colts in 2019. Stewart, a 4th round pick in 2017, is the biggest/widest defensive tackle body the Colts have up front. All of a sudden, he looks like a necessary building piece moving forward after starting just 1 game in his first two seasons. New D-line coach Brian Baker is an early fan of Stewart.
- LB-Anthony Walker (Age: 25): This will be another interesting one to watch. Walker has played an important role for the Colts over the last two seasons. He’s been healthy and consistent. However, the Colts are extremely high on the younger, more athletic, Bobby Okereke playing the MIKE position. Is there room for Walker past this season? Does he want to stay in Indy if Okereke eats into more of his playing time?
- CB-T.J. Carrie (Age: 30): Carrie has started at least 3 games (50 total) in each of his 6 NFL seasons, including 30 over the last 3 years. But seeing him do that in Indy this season is difficult, unless injuries occur. Carrie could be the backup nickel corner in 2020.
- CB-Xavier Rhodes (Age: 31): Rhodes never expected to be on the open market this offseason. He was though after another struggling season in Minnesota. The Colts are steadfast that they can help resurrect the former All-Pro’s career. If so, they could have a new starting outside corner for the next couple of seasons.
- S-Malik Hooker (Age: 25): From the drafting of Julian Blackmon, to the declining of Malik Hooker’s 5th year option, the Colts have spoken through their actions on the future at safety. Hooker is now in a contract year in 2020. It’s a decision that has created a very murky situation on seeing Hooker and the Colts stay together, even if he has a strong season this year. It will be fascinating to see how Hooker handles the unexpected situation he’s now playing under.