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Indianapolis Colts March Scouting Report
Chris Rito

Hey there Colts’ fans! Here are some thoughts on the opening of the free agency free-for-all in the NFL from down at the Colts’ Corral….


FRANCHISE TAG: The Colts placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on WR Michael Pittman, guaranteeing him just under $22 million in 2024, but they were quite clear that they intended to lock him up for longer and that they were actually reasonably close as of the tag deadline day. They were just protecting their interests because they felt he was the most important of their free agents to retain under all circumstances. While he was curious to see what he could get in free agency, Pittman too wanted to stay put as he got married and started a family here in Indy already. Pittman was signed for three years and $70 million with a whopping $46 million guaranteed, making him the 8th-highest paid receiver in the NFL – which seemed about right coming off a year when he was 6th in receptions (109) and 14th in yards (1152). I still don’t think this signing takes the drafting of a receiver with their top pick off the table, or even a midlevel signing a for a #2 or a #1A type of guy.


PLAYERS LOST: You could argue that the two guys who had the greatest impact last season by stepping into big roles were RB Zack Moss and backup QB Gardner Minshew. Both of them scored surprisingly large deals on the opening day of free agency with the Raiders snagging Minshew for two years and $25 million to compete with young Aiden O’Connell for the starting job. Moss meanwhile parlayed a career-best year into the new starting role for the high-powered Bengals offense with a 2-year, $8 million deal after they released Joe Mixon. I would have loved to have them back, but I knew someone would sign Moss to be a starter and he was too pricy for a backup to an every-down back. But the Minshew deal shocked me: that’s a lot of money top pay a backup and I am not sure that the Raiders really even would want him starting and stunting O’Connell’s growth. It was a weird signing, and one that really threw the team’s plans off, I believe. WR Isaiah Mackenzie signed with the Giants, but I do not believe there was any chance he would have been a Colt in 2024 after his late-season release and underwhelming 2023 performance.


STILL UNSIGNED: The big one is S Julian Blackmon, who is likely to garner a lot of attention but is as of yet unsigned. I am really hoping they can bring him back to a very young secondary somewhat devoid of other playmakers. He is probably the biggest priority after Pittman of the 2023 Colts to become free agents, so hopefully someone does not swoop in and offer money that the Colts simply cannot match. OL Danny Pinter struggled at times as a starter but is a solid backup at multiple positions, and really should be brought back to cover a wealth of depth positions. That is, assuming he is fully healthy since he missed all of 2023 after breaking his ankle in preseason. The remaining unsigned Colts from last season are deep bench players and unlikely to be resigned since they were uninspiring in 2023.


PLAYERS RESIGNED: The Colts have handled their internal business pretty well thus far aside, even having lost two big depth contributors. Leading tackler LB Zaire Franklin inked a 3-year extension, netting him an additional $31.26 million. DT Grover Stewart (3 year, $39 million) and CB Kenny Moore (3 years, $30 million) also were resigned to big deals to keep the heart and soul of the defense intact. Moore’s deal makes him the highest paid slot corner in NFL history, and he has been among the best to do it over his 8-year career. They also re-signed some key rotational players and locker room presences with deals for DE Tyquan Lewis and LB Ronnie Harrison (also played safety), and DE Genard Avery who did not play a snap last year after getting hurt in training camp. RB Trey Sermon resigned just today to a team-friendly deal and as of this moment slots in as the primary backup to RB Jonathan Taylor for 2024. And finally, after a solid season returning from an Achilles injury, the Colts brought back P Rigoberto Sanchez who is as solid as they come without being flashy (and is a fine holder for the kicking game as well). He had an impressive zero touchbacks on 68 punts in 2023.


NEW PLAYERS: The first outside signing was adding another interior line presence by bringing in Dolphins’ DT Raekwon Davis on a 2-year, $14 million deal. While not flashy, he is a durable (over 500 snaps per season) and monster-sized (6’7", 325) run stuffer that will allow the dynamic duo of Buckner and Stewart to stay fresher and keep a strong presence on the field at all times. They really suffered against the run when Stewart missed 6 games last season, so this was a needed pick. The splashiest signing was the addition of veteran QB Joe Flacco (1 year, $8.7 million) this week to backup young QB Anthony Richardson. While no one will confuse the two due to Flacco’s lack of footspeed, they each have a really big arm so maybe the deep passing game as promised in 2023 is on the horizon for opening up the offense. After all the interesting or available backup-caliber quarterbacks with similar styles to Richardson got snapped up in a flurry this week, Flacco made a lot of sense as a veteran guy that can step in and lead a team to a win better than most.


STILL TO COME: Glaringly absent in the moves thus far has been any addressing of the outside corner position or the offensive line. The Colts still have about $32 million in cap room and there are some big name shut-down corners still out there for the taking that might be in play yet. I think with the O-line, they are more likely to spend a Day 1-2 pick on that position rather than fill a gap through free agency due to the money tied up in a slightly aging line at the moment.


That is all for this month from the Crossroads of America. There will be more activity coming out of the Colts’ Corral in the weeks to come, and then I can focus on looking ahead to the draft in April. Enjoy your spring break time, everyone!



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