Which Pending Free Agents Should the Indianapolis Colts Resign this Offseason?
By: Trenton Roberts (Twitter: @TRobertsNFL)
As the 2021 offseason approaches, fans of the Indianapolis Colts should expect some big changes to the roster.
The shift is already well underway, with GM Chris Ballard already sending picks to the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire Carson Wentz, and the team should continue to be aggressive with its cap space high for the offseason. If you are interested in finding some outside names the Colts may bring in over the course of free agency, check out my other article of “Five Free Agency Targets for the Indianapolis Colts in 2021”!
As for this article, one of the most important parts of free agency is what a team does with the players they already have. For simplification, I am breaking it down into three separate sections, those being “Priority Re-Signings”, “Considerations”, and “Let Walk”. Each section is as it sounds, with the first being which players a team should bring back without hesitation, the second being players a team could consider, and the final being which free agents will likely hit the market.
With that out of the way, let’s get down to it!
Yep, you read that right.
There are multiple names that are interesting for the Colts this offseason, but there are no key pieces that need to return without question.
It is entirely possible that the team doesn’t re-sign a single free agent that was on the team in 2020, and that they would be perfectly fine doing so. However, there are a few names that should come back, and we’ll cover that in our next section.
The longtime Colt is a franchise great, but he is starting to get older, which is especially brutal for speed receivers like Hilton. The team would love to have him back, but it is no certainty.
After opening the Rhodes with the Vikings in 2019, the cornerback revitalized his career in Indy and is deserving of a contract. Similarly to Hilton, however, he is older, and thus could find a new home for the 2021 season.
Like Rhodes, Houston was a former free agent acquisition that brought life to the defense. Also like Rhodes, Houston is getting old, and thus the team could look elsewhere on the edge this offseason.
Anthony Walker Jr.:
Walker Jr. is a fan favorite in Indianapolis, and he finished second on the team in total tackles from 2019-2020 with 216. However, he barely saw the field in the team’s playoff matchup with the Bills, and the success of 2019 draft pick Bobby Okereke may push him out the door.
Autry has been a consistent presence for Indianapolis since Chris Ballard signed him in 2018, but like the first three on this list, he is on the wrong side of 30 and could be replaced by a younger end.
An underrated player, Carrie quietly had a very solid campaign in 2020 as a backup and pinch starter. However, as is the trend with this list, he is an older player, so he’d likely only be offered a cheap deal to return.
Zach Pascal, George Odum, and Mo Alie-Cox:
The team will likely retain these three, as they are each restricted free agents who can return for cheap. However, it is possible that one or more find a new jersey to don in 2021.
The teams 2019 starting quarterback is heading out in 2021. With their trade for Carson Wentz, Indianapolis will likely consider 2020 fourth rounder Jacob Eason the backup for the coming season, making Brissett the odd-man out.
Despite showing flashes throughout his career so far and still being a young player, Hooker needs a fresh start. 2020 breakout rookie Julian Blackmon has solidified his role as the starting free safety in Indy, so there is simply no room for Hooker on the roster.
Clark has been a bust in Indianapolis, never quite turning into even a serviceable backup. He will likely not be returning in 2021 and may not even find a home in the NFL.
Prior to the 2020 season, Mack was coming off a 1,000-yard campaign and was expected to form a scary tandem with rookie Jonathan Taylor. An injury in week one allowed Taylor to take over as the workhorse, and his success means Mack will be on a new team heading forward.
The Indianapolis Colts have an interesting offseason ahead of them. Likely looking to push deeper into the playoffs under a potentially rejuvenated Carson Wentz, the team should be big spenders in the offseason with as much cap room as they have. There are certainly names with expiring deals on the roster that could return for another season, but unlike most teams, Indy can afford to be frugal with its in-house signings and spend big in the open market.