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INDIANAPOLIS – Waiting in the offseason just a few months away are some very important free agent decisions for the Colts, with around a dozen starters potentially headed for the open market.

The Colts have already taken care of TE-Jack Doyle (3-year extension last December) and C-Ryan Kelly (4-year extension in September), who both were scheduled to be free agents in 2021.

What’s the update on the 2021 unrestricted free agents for the Colts (next year’s age listed)?

  • QB-Philip Rivers (Age: 39): We are seeing why the Colts wisely just gave Rivers a 1-year contract officially, even though both parties thought this would be a 2-year marriage. The Colts did not need to tie their hands contractually to a quarterback who has shown some signs of diminishing play. If the Colts want to bring Rivers back in 2021, the market shouldn’t be too competitive to do that.

 

  • QB-Jacoby Brissett (Age: 28): Well, six games into Brissett’s first actual contract year, he’s played one meaningful snap (a sack in a Week 1 loss to the Jaguars). The Colts have quite the expensive backup QB, with Brissett carrying a $21 million cap hit. The future goal for Brissett remains to be a starter in this league. He’s steadfast in that, so something drastic would have to change in Indy for him to return.

 

  • RB-Marlon Mack (Age: 25): Man, you feel terrible for Mack. Running backs already have a shrinking market in today’s NFL. And now Mack is hitting the open market with a torn Achilles. Selfishly, for the Colts, this injury probably increases Mack’s chances of returning, in trying to prove himself on a short-term deal, because he still is really young hitting a second contract. Mack securing a long-term deal, with upper half running back money, is gone though.

 

  • WR-T.Y. Hilton (Age: 31): This is a tough one to gauge. At this point in Hilton’s career, he is no longer the perennial Pro Bowl No. 1 wideout. How much of it is a physical decline? That’s hard to tell. But one must acknowledge that the Colts are still searching for consistency behind Hilton. Parris Campbell is hurt again. And Michael Pittman saw his growth get stunted by a leg injury. If Hilton is going to return, he’s going to have to take a price reduction. Look at the Colts depth chart though, there’s no locked-in stone No. 1 definite for the 2021 season and beyond.  Hilton wants one more contract with the Colts before hanging it up. A quiet start to his first contract year still hasn’t slammed the door shut for a third contract between the two parties.

 

  • WR-Marcus Johnson (Age: 27): Johnson again is proving his worth to the Colts. Remember, this past April, the Colts did not keep Johnson as a restricted free agent right away. He eventually re-signed a month into free agency. Frank Reich is a big fan of what Johnson brings, especially in the vertical passing game.

 

  • TE-Trey Burton (Age: 29): Now healthy, we are seeing some of the plans that the Colts had for Burton. But Burton’s health and age will be a looming question in his NFL future. The Colts still have Jack Doyle (30 years old, under contract through 2021) and Mo Alie-Cox (a restricted free agent in 2020) likely in their plans.

 

  • OT-Le’Raven Clark (Age: 28): Isn’t it time to finally upgrade at the depth tackle spot? The Colts haven’t drafted a true tackle since Zach Banner in Round Four of the 2017 Draft. The Colts re-signed Clark last spring.

 

  • OT-Chaz Green (Age: 27): As a reserve tackle, Green has played just 6 offensive snaps with the Colts. His last start in the NFL was in 2018 (he’s started 7 career games). Again, you feel like offensive tackle needs some more significant upgrades next offseason.

 

  • DE-Justin Houston (Age: 32): Kind of like Hilton at wide receiver, the case for bringing back Houston has been made stronger because the younger guys at his position have yet to really establish themselves on a serious enough level. Houston is by no means a top-flight edge rusher anymore, but he’s still productive enough and continues to stay healthy in Indy. Like Hilton, the Colts love the professionalism of Houston.

 

  • DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad (Age: 26): Muhammad, a 2017 6th round pick of the Saints, has had a reserve pass-rushing role with the Colts this season as the staff awaits the return of Kemoko Turay. The coaching staff loves the motor and effort of Muhammad and it’s why he plays a pretty consistent role off the edge. This’ll be an interesting one to keep an eye on depending on what happens with Houston and how other teams might project Muhammad in a bigger role.

 

  • DL-Denico Autry (Age: 30): Without a doubt, Autry has been a solid signing by Chris Ballard. That occurred back in 2018 with a three-year deal. Now, the Colts would probably like a hair more production from Autry since a 2-sack showing in the season opener. Still, his versatility up front is important and the Colts like how he plays the game.

 

  • DT-Sheldon Day (Age: 26): The Bengals game was the first time we’ve seen Day in a Colts uniform. Knee surgery this summer forced Day to miss the first five games of the season. Day will have a big final 10 games to dictate what his future will look like as he plays on a one-year deal.

 

  • DT-Grover Stewart (Age: 27): Of all the names on this list, I think Stewart has helped his stock the most this season. Stewart is the big anchor of another strong run defense. A 4th round pick in 2017, Stewart has to be viewed as an important guy to re-sign, especially given how unique of a body he brings to the defensive line group.

 

  • LB-Anthony Walker (Age: 25): This is going to be a tough one. When everyone is healthy at linebacker, Bobby Okereke has overtaken Walker for the expanded role next to Darius Leonard. The Colts call Walker the ‘heart and soul’ of their defense. Unless Walker gets a big, and long, deal somewhere else, him staying in Indy, with a more scaled back role, would make sense.

 

  • CB-T.J. Carrie (Age: 30): After struggling with the Browns last season, Carrie has given the Colts some quality reps in 2020. He’s viewed as a necessary depth piece, on both the inside and outside.

 

  • CB-Xavier Rhodes (Age: 31): Similar to Carrie, Rhodes is having a really nice bounce back year. Rhodes had to take a big-time pay cut after the Vikings said goodbye in March. But he’s largely delivering on a prove-it deal year with the Colts. No matter what happens with these two older corners next spring, you have to think cornerback will be on the radar of Chris Ballard next April.

 

  • S-Malik Hooker (Age: 25): The Colts have had two season-ending Achilles injuries to pending free agents. What a brutal blow to Hooker, who really could have used a healthy contract year after the Colts declined his rookie option. It’s hard to see Hooker returning to Indy given his lack of health, the sudden impact from Julian Blackmon and the questions Hooker has had about himself fitting within this scheme.

 

  • S-Tavon Wilson (Age: 31): Wilson is part of a very solid and sound special teams unit. He’s provided a nice depth presence alongside George Odum. With Julian Blackmon and Khari Willis, the Colts have their starting safety duo of the future in place. Wilson is a nice veteran depth piece though.