INDIANAPOLIS: With how the 2019 season transpired, and specifically ended, defensive changes were inevitable.
Chris Ballard said he needed to give that side of the ball help, and he’s been active in that pursuit with 4 new faces coming in free agency, compared to just 2 on offense.
At the same time, the Colts have 4 notable defensive names from the past few years no longer on the roster.
What’s the defensive outlook heading into next week’s draft?
Adds: DeForest Buckner (traded for, signed 5-year extension), Sheldon Day (signed 1-year deal)
Losses: Jabaal Sheard (free agent, still on open market), Margus Hunt (released)
Notable Retuning: Justin Houston, Denico Autry, Grover Stewart, Kemoko Turay, Tyquan Lewis, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Ben Banogu, Gerri Green
Outlook: It’s hard to find a deeper position group on the roster than the defensive line. And Chris Ballard has to love that. He wasn’t messing around with the trade for DeForest Buckner, and further bolstering the defensive tackle depth with the signing of Sheldon Day. Losing Sheard is notable, but the Colts do have a combination they could use at defensive end—versatile interior parts in Autry or Lewis, plus young rushers in Turay and Banogu.
Notable Retuning: Darius Leonard, Anthony Walker, Bobby Okereke, E.J. Speed, Matthew Adams, Zaire Franklin
Outlook: Chris Ballard has really focused on shifting the types of linebackers the Colts had—wanting speed, length and striking ability. This position has some intriguing upside and nice depth. You can see why we haven’t seen any changes, one way or the other, this offseason.
Adds: Xavier Rhodes (1-year deal), T.J. Carrie (1-year deal)
Losses: Pierre Desir (released, signed by Jets)
Notable Retuning: Kenny Moore, Rock Ya-Sin, Marvell Tell, Quincy Wilson
Outlook: Coming into the offseason, the Colts weren’t faced with any must-make decision at cornerback. None of their cornerbacks were hitting free agency. But Chris Ballard felt the need to make changes. That started with releasing Pierre Desir and trying to tap into the All-Pro potential of Xavier Rhodes, after a couple of struggling seasons. Carrie was an important signing for the Colts as they try to build their depth behind Kenny Moore at nickel.
Losses: Clayton Geathers (free agent, still on open market)
Notable Retuning: Malik Hooker, Khari Willis, George Odum
Outlook: It was probably expected to see the Colts let Geathers, 27, hit the open market and opt for younger guys at safety. Could the Colts use another body at safety? Sure. But this position still has some frontline guys they like in Hooker and Willis.
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