Which Free Agents Should the Colts Re-sign for 2021

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!

Priority Re-Signings

None.

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.

Considerations

T.Y. Hilton:

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.

Xavier Rhodes:

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.

Justin Houston:

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.

Denico Autry:

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.

T.J. Carrie:

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.

Let Walk

Jacoby Brissett:

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.

Malik Hooker:

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.

Le’Raven Clark:

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.

Marlon Mack:

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.

Closing Thoughts

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.

Three Free Agency Destinations for TY Hilton

Where Might Colts Receiver TY Hilton Land This Offseason?

By: Trenton Roberts (Twitter: @TRobertsNFL)

For the first time in his nine-year NFL career, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver TY Hilton might hit the open market.

At 31 years of age, he isn’t exactly a bright young star at the position, but he has been a consistent presence for Indy throughout his career, even leading the league in receiving yards in 2016. However, ever since the Andrew Luck saga ended, he hasn’t quite been the same dominant force he once was.

“Andrew Luck” by Jeffrey Beall is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Even so, teams should definitely be looking at Hilton this offseason, as his veteran presence would be perfect for a team in need of a mentor for a young talent.

While it still remains highly likely that Hilton will resign with Indianapolis, let’s take a look at three potential landing spots for the veteran speedster.

Green Bay Packers

Davante Adams is an amazing receiver.

Davante Adams needs help.

Both statements hold very true, and when the Packers decided to take rookie quarterback Jordan Love in the 2020 draft, fans were outraged that the team wasn’t doing more to help their long-time star signal caller Aaron Rodgers.

Despite this, Rodgers went on to have one of his best campaigns ever, culminating in an NFL MVP award. Still, he needs help.

TY Hilton would go a long way to pushing the Packers closer to the big dance, as his experience and big play ability perfectly compliment Adams in that receiving room. As mentioned above, Hilton is on the older side of receivers at 31, so should he choose to chase a ring outside of Indy, the Packers would be a match made in heaven.

Las Vegas Raiders

Henry Ruggs was a major disappointment in 2020.

After being drafted 12th overall, over fellow top prospects CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy, he went on to amass just 26 catches for 452 yards and a pair of scores on the season.

Enter TY Hilton, one of the best speed receivers of the decade.

Hilton would be a perfect mentor for Ruggs to develop, passing on his knowledge and skills to the young threat and potentially breathing life back into the former Alabama star’s career.

While this may not be the best destination for him to chase a ring, such as he would with the Packers, he would be a great fit for the organization, helping them to develop their young wideout group and giving them a solid lead option for relatively cheap.

New England Patriots

This one may hurt Colts fans, as the team has a well-known hatred for the Patriots. However, this spot would be very interesting for many reasons.

The 2020 Patriots were abysmal in the passing game, with starter Cam Newton throwing for just eight scores on the year (three of which came in the final game of the season).

Despite this horrendous showing, the team still managed to finish 7-9, which is a testament to their defense and arguably the greatest coach of all time in Bill Belicheck.

If the team can find a better option under center for 2021, the team could very well push itself back into the postseason, and Hilton would help the team do so.

Pairing up with Julian Edelman and up-and-comer Jakobi Meyers, Hilton would fit seamlessly as the team’s deep threat, while also providing a veteran presence to a younger team.

Closing

Thought Hilton is all but certain to return to the Colts for the 2021 season, there are teams out there that could use his services. Should he make his way out of Indy this offseason, keep an eye on these three teams to be heavily invested in the market for the speedy veteran.

Five Free Agency Target for the Indianapolis Colts in 2021

What Free Agents Will The Colts Look at as Free Agency draws near?

By: Trenton Roberts (Twitter: @TRobertsNFL)

The Indianapolis Colts head into 2021 as one of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL. With playmakers at all three levels on defense, a top five offensive line, a talented young running back room, and potential at receiver, the team should be competing for a championship yearly.

However, they are missing one key aspect: a quarterback.

With Philip Rivers retiring at the end of the 2020 season, and backup Jacoby Brissett slated for free agency, Indy is left with just one quarterback under contract on the roster: 2020 fourth round pick Jacob Eason.

If Eason can put it all together or if the team decides to make a trade for a new starter remains to be seen, but in a weak free agency class, it is unlikely the team will look at signing someone to lead the offense.

With that being said, the team with the third-most total cap space heading into 2021 will definitely be active in free agency, and thus we are brought to the point of this article: Who are five targets the Colts should pursue in the 2021 Free Agency class?

Honorable Mention: Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys

This is by far the least likely on the list, as it is all but certain that Dallas will be bringing him back one way or another. If he does manage to hit the market, however, expect the Colts to be very aggressive in an attempt to bring him to Indy.

5) Curtis Samuel, WR, Panthers

The Colts value speed at the receiver position. Samuel provides a ton of that.

Since running a 4.31 at the 2017 NFL combine, the former Ohio State star has turned into one of the best gadget players in the NFL. Late in 2020, however, he started to flash more than just “gadget-player” upside.

Over the final half of the 2020 season, Samuel broke out with 589 yards and a pair of scores on 48 receptions, and also chipped in a solid 22 rushes for 109 yards while seeing time in the backfield sans Christian McCaffrey.

Unable to truly shine in the shadow of young star DJ Moore and breakout acquisition Robby Anderson, Samuel will likely be headed elsewhere this offseason, and the Colts should certainly look into acquiring his services on their offense.

4) Carl Lawson, DE, Bengals

Since being selected in the fourth round of the 2017 class, Lawson has proven to be the steal of the class.

In his four seasons, Lawson has started in just 14 of a possible 51 games (11 came in 2020), yet he has managed to accumulate five or more sacks and 20+ QB hits in every season but one. In 2020, he was credited with creating 10.5 sacks for teammates by creating pressure, which placed him sixth in the entire league.

It’s not often that a young dynamic pass rusher hits the open market, so at just 25 years of age, his services will definitely create a bidding war this offseason.

With Justin Houston continuing to age, and both Houston and Denico Autry set to hit free agency, the Indianapolis Colts should certainly throw their chips into the pot to get younger and more talented at the position.

3) Trent Williams, LT, 49ers

Trent Williams is the model of consistency at one of the most important positions in football.

Starting in 133 of his 134 career games since 2010, Williams was a staple on the line for Washington before sitting out the 2019 season in protest against the team for unfair treatment and failure to care for an injury.

Subsequently traded to the San Francisco 49ers, Williams went on to have one of his greatest seasons yet, allowing just 4 sacks and finishing with a PFF grade of 91.9, which led all tackles in the league.

At 32 years of age, Williams is certainly on the older end of the spectrum, but with similar talented tackles providing high-caliber play into their mid-late 30s, the Colts should reach out to Williams in an attempt to replace recently retired stalwart Anthony Castonzo on the blind side.

2) Shaquill Griffin, CB, Seahawks

Perhaps better known as the twin of Shaquem Griffin, the linebacker with one hand, Shaquill has quietly made a name for himself in Seattle.

Griffin has been a mainstay in the Seahawks secondary since being drafted in 2017, having started in 53 of a possible 57 career games, and starting every game he played in since week five of his rookie season.

In 12 regular season games in 2020, Griffin picked off three passes and defended another 12, while allowing just a 62.1% catch percentage (per Pro Football Reference). Not turning 26 until July, Griffin gives teams the chance to sign a potential young CB1 for their team without paying a premium for his services.

Because of this, and with the Colts in need of more youth and a talent infusion in the cornerback room, expect the team to at least give a long look into signing Griffin away from Seattle.

1) Allen Robinson, WR, Bears

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you’ve probably heard someone mention a connection of Allen Robinson to the Colts.

The 27-year-old has been a dominant force throughout his time in the league, highlighted by his 2015 season with the Jaguars in which he totaled 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns on 80 catches. In 2020, Robinson set a new career high in receptions, hauling in 102 balls for 1,250 yards and six scores.

In Indianapolis, the Colts have young talents such as Michael Pittman Jr and Parris Campbell at the position, as well as long-time top target TY Hilton potentially returning for more. However, the team lacks a true bona-fide WR1, with Hilton underwhelming since Andrew Luck’s retirement in 2019.

Robinson would bring a dominant top option for whoever is under center for the Colts in 2021, as well as being a perfect mentor for Pittman. This seems like a match made in heaven, so expect the Colts to throw everything they have into trying to sign the star wideout.

Closing:

That just about wraps up our Indianapolis Colts Free Agency Target List!

Do you feel as though there are other names you would add to this list? Who do you want the Colts to chase in 2021? Where do you see the team heading in this pivotal free agency period?

Leave a comment on Twitter to let us know what you think! If you have questions for the author, reach out at the Twitter handle at the top of the article!

Thanks for reading, and we hope you will continue to follow along with us here at Pro Football Mania!

3 Potential Landing Spots for Jacoby Brissett

Will Jacoby Brissett be a Colt in 2021?

By: Trenton Roberts (Twitter: @TRobertsNFL)

The 2021 quarterback market has already gotten off to a hot start, with John Stafford and Jared Goff swapping teams on Sunday. The trade market includes many names that might be made available, including Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Sam Darnold, Kirk Cousins, and even Aaron Rodgers.

Looking at the Free Agency group, however, you find a much bleaker picture. Led by young star Dak Prescott, the class looks fine, but considering the likelihood that he returns to Dallas, the class is left with Cam Newton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Jacoby Brissett leading the charge.

With many teams still in need of a starter, there is a strong possibility that one or more of these names find a starting role in 2021. Today, we will look at just one of those names: Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

Brissett started 15 games in both 2017 and 2019 for the Colts, with Andrew Luck being injured for most of the 2017 campaign followed by his surprising retirement prior to the 2019 season.

As one of the few quarterbacks with starting experience available, Brissett will likely be a hot commodity come the opening of free agency. Despite a 12-20 career record as a starter, the following teams are likely to give the signal-caller a long look this offseason:

New England Patriots:

This is the most obvious landing spot for Brissett, and everyone who watched the NFL prior to 2017 should understand why.

Brissett has past experience with this team.

In 2016, Brissett started 2 games for New England after both Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo went down to injury. He split those games, finishing with one win and one loss, and throwing for 400 yards while rushing for another 83 and a score.

Since Brady left in the 2020 offseason, the team has thrown a combined 12 touchdowns (2 from a receiver) to 14 picks. The Cam Newton experiment was a colossal failure, as despite his 12 rushing scores, the team fell to 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season.

Brissett makes sense for the team, as he has prior experience with coach Bill Belicheck and many of the players on the roster.

Chicago Bears:

The Chicago Bears are a struggling team.

With the failure of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky still stinging, the team is propped up by a strong defense each year.

Unfortunately, that strong defense is also what’s keeping them out of the running for a new quarterback.

Since losing in the wildcard round in 2018, the Bears have finished 8-8 in each of their past two seasons, leading to them picking in the mid-late teens each season. Unable to draft a new young option, they are now left scrambling to find the piece they need to lead their offense to the playoffs.

Brissett might be that guy.

In his career, Brissett has thrown 31 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions, making him a great candidate to fill in a similar role to Titans QB Ryan Tannehill. In Tennessee, Tannehill has found success as an efficient passer for a run-based offense and a strong defense. Brissett may be to Chicago what Tannehill has been for the Titans.

If that is the case, the Bears must at least consider this option for their future.

Indianapolis Colts:

This one makes so much yet so little sense at the same time.

If Brissett were to return to Indianapolis, he would return as a fan and teammate favorite, although likely as a backup. With the Colts looking to add a quarterback this offseason to push the team further into the playoffs, Brissett returning as a starter wouldn’t make sense.

However, if the team were to bring in a quarterback similar to Philip Rivers, one that lacked mobility, a return could make a lot more sense than one would think.

As the backup to Rivers in 2020, Brissett found a surprisingly large role in the offense, taking the majority of the short yardage snaps.

On 47 offensive snaps, Brissett was very effective:

  • Rushing: 17 attempts, 19 yards, 3 touchdowns, 9 first downs
  • 2 completions, 8 attempts, 17 yards 1 first down

His efficiency on these short-yardage and goal-line snaps was amazing, so it isn’t out of the question that the Colts would want to bring him back to fill a similar role (albeit for cheaper) in 2021.

Closing:

In a 2021 free agency class that doesn’t feature the same quality as the 2020 class, there will be a few quarterbacks who find a new home this offseason.

Jacoby Brissett could return to a starting role this offseason, and would bring excitement and a fun personality to whichever team decides to bring him in.

With many options open, Brissett could very well be starting for his third team in his career come August.

Three NFL Teams That Could Sign JuJu Smith as a 2021 NFL Free Agent

Where Could JuJu Smith Land as an NFL Free Agent Signing?

By: Trenton Robert (Twitter: @TRobertsNFL)

In 2017, JuJu Smith-Schuster entered the league as a baby-faced rookie with many question marks. But the USC product had potential, and he proved that early in his career, becoming the first player in NFL history to record five touchdowns before turning 21, while also becoming the fastest to reach 1,000 all-purpose yards.

It wasn’t until his sophomore season, however, that the young star really broke out.

In 2018, Smith-Schuster paired with All-World receiver Antonio Brown to form the deadliest duo in the NFL, with each surpassing 160 targets.

  • Smith-Schuster – 166 targets, 111 receptions, 1,426 yards, 7 touchdowns
  • Brown – 168 targets, 104 receptions, 1,297 yards, 15 touchdowns

But the pairing’s success was short lived, as in the 2019 offseason, Brown was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders and subsequently released as a result of many off-field issues surfaced. Without Brown forcing defenses to account for him on the opposite side of the field, Smith-Schuster stumbled.

In 2019, the young Steelers star fell off hard, dropping to 42 catches, 552 yards, and just three touchdowns in 12 games. Part of this can be attributed to the loss of Ben Roethlisberger early in the season, but it was still an extremely disappointing year from the receiver.

Despite a resurgent 2020, in which Smith-Schuster piled up 831 yards and nine scores, it became more and more obvious as the season progressed that he had become more of a commodity than a necessity. With the emergence of Diontae Johnson and rookie sensation Chase Claypool, on top of Smith-Schuster set to hit free agency, it seems more and more likely that the now 24-year-old will be playing for a new team in 2021.

With that being said, lets break down three of the most likely destinations for JuJu Smith-Schuster in the new season!

Miami Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa is a strange case.

The former Alabama quarterback had an up-and-down rookie campaign for Miami in 2020, showing flashes of potential while also displaying issues.

JuJu Smith-Schuster could help by giving the young signal-caller options.

With just under $24 million in cap room, according to Over The Cap, the Dolphins will be able to sign the receiver to pair with veteran Devante Parker in an attempt to breathe life into their offense. Along with 2020 breakout runner Myles Gaskin and up-and-down tight end Mike Gesicki, the move would easily upgrade the talent around Tagovailoa and help move the needle in the right direction for Miami.

Washington Football Team

In Washington, Smith-Schuster would go back to what he does best: being a great WR2 behind a dominant number one. As reported by Sports Illustrated, Washington could be looking at receiving help in Free Agency. Terry McLaurin has emerged as a terrifying weapon for the WFT this season, amassing over 1,100 yards despite non-existent QB play.

While the team still has questions going into 2021 under center, whoever does happen to find a starting role there would benefit greatly from the two young receivers pairing together, along with breakout tight end Logan Thomas.

With cap space of $42 million this offseason, Washington has the room to make it happen while still remaining in the market for a quarterback upgrade.

It goes without saying, though, that this Batman-Robin pairing would make perfect sense to rejuvenate Smith-Schuster’s career!

New York Jets

The final team on this list may be the most interesting.

The Jets move into this offseason after a disappointing end to the season in which they failed in their attempt to “Tank for Trevor”. Despite this, they are still in a good position to draft a young quarterback to lead them moving forward, likely Justin Fields if they went that route.

Whoever they decide to go with, however, will need more help in the passing game than the team offers now.

With 2020 rookie Denzel Mims being the best option still under contract, the team will be looking at the deep free agency class at receiver to try to bolster the position.

JuJu makes near perfect sense for them moving forward.

The Jets are a young team trying to rebuild, and with Smith-Schuster still being just 24, he fits the timeline for the youth movement. Possessing the third-most cap space for the 2021 offseason (just over $63 million), along with a pair of first rounders, the team will be looking to compete sooner rather than later, so bringing in a proven option will be a big boost.

Closing Remarks

JuJu Smith-Schuster will be a hot commodity this offseason. After all, it isn’t often that a young star hits the open market. Many teams will be after his services, and he would help most teams out.

However, the biggest question surrounding him will be his off-field antics, as he faced a lot of backlashes this season for his immaturity on the viral social media platform TikTok.

If a team is willing to look past those issues, however, they will be getting a young talent just a few years removed from a Pro Bowl campaign.

Smith-Schuster’s name will be a hot topic this offseason, and he is someone everybody should be keeping an eye on!

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