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INDIANAPOLIS – He is the Colts free agent poised to earn the most lucrative contract of any this offseason.

Xavier Rhodes did exactly what players are supposed to do on a 1-year prove-it deal after he was cut by the team that drafted him last spring.

And he’s going to cash in.

Will the Colts hand him that cash?

“Xavier had a heck of a year,” Chris Ballard said at the end of the 2020 season. “Really bought into what we are doing. I give Jonathan Gannon a lot of credit for that. He had a relationship with Xavier from Minnesota. Xavier worked and bought into everything we are doing.

“I think we will wait and see how it works out here in free agency, but we like Xavier.”

The Colts ‘liking’ Rhodes is nowhere near the full picture in this situation though.

As Ballard stated above, arguably the biggest reason why Rhodes came to Indy was because of a familiar face in cornerbacks coach Jonathan Gannon.

Well, Gannon is now the defensive coordinator under Nick Sirianni in Philadelphia.

How does that impact these two parties getting together for another contract?

It hasn’t happened since Pat McAfee in 2014, but would the Colts slapping Rhodes with the franchise tag make sense? That would cost the Colts $15.2 million for 2021, which is a hefty price for a Colts cornerback.

For Rhodes, who turns 31 in June, he has to be looking at one significant pay day this offseason, knowing that he’s got some leverage given how he played last season.

To the Colts, does an outside corner like Rhodes have enough value for Ballard to get into a bidding war?

Corner is a need this offseason for the Colts, but the reasons why this marriage worked last season aren’t as clearly seen in 2021.

2021 Colts Free Agent Watches

Quarterback Jacoby Brissett

Tight End Trey Burton

Running Back Marlon Mack

Wide Receiver T.Y. Hilton

Left Tackle Le’Raven Clark

Defensive End Justin Houston

Offensive Tackle Chaz Green

Offensive Lineman Joey Hunt

Defensive End Al-Quadin Muhammad

Defensive Lineman Denico Autry

Linebacker Anthony Walker

Cornerback T.J. Carrie