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INDIANAPOLIS – With free agency now four weeks old, the substantial moves that occur in this phase of roster building has largely come and passed.

Truly building your roster in free agency isn’t a smart tactic, but supplementing areas of need is something that can happen.

Over the last month, the Colts have signed or re-signed 10 players (Re-signings: RB-Marlon Mack, CB-Xavier Rhodes, OL-Joey Hunt, WR-T.Y. Hilton, DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad; New signings: DE-Isaac Rochell, OT-Sam Tevi, OT-Julie’n Davenport, S-Sean Davis, OG-Chris Reed).

All those moves certainly impacts various players on the Colts roster. And that could again change in two weeks, when the Colts take part in the 2021 NFL Draft.

With free agency a month old, who are the winners and losers for the Colts?

 

Winners

Jacob Eason: For now, the Colts are prepared to fully give Jacob Eason the opportunity at being Carson Wentz’s backup in 2021. As long as the Colts continue to pass over the veteran QB market, which is the likely path for the team, no player on the roster is going to see a bigger uptick in meaningful practice reps this offseason than Eason. Instead of splitting third-team time with Chad Kelly, like Eason did in his rookie season, he’s now going to be leading the second team. And when the preseason arrives, Eason will be getting extremely valuable and needed game reps.

-Tyquan Lewis: The departure of Denico Autry means the Colts are counting on Tyquan Lewis to take another jump in his fourth NFL season. Lewis had some nice moments last season, recording 4.0 sacks and 8 tackles for loss in playing all 16 games (4 starts). It’s quite possible Lewis is a starter this season out at defensive end, with the option of moving inside on passing downs. That’s similar to the role we saw from Autry at times in Indy. With Autry out the door, pushing Lewis up into that versatile role seems to be the plan.

-Kemoko Turay/Ben Banogu: No Colt defenders should have been happier to watch the top wave of pass rushers in free agency sign with other teams than these two. While there remain some veteran edge rushers out on the open market, Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu won’t be dealing with some 26-27 year old edge presence coming into the building as an unquestioned starter. Calling either Turay or Banogu a 2021 starter would be premature. But this duo dodged a free agency acquisition that would have kept them down on the depth chart. Is this a sign of staff confidence/belief in them?

 

Losers

-Rock Ya-Sin/Marvell Tell: As free agency reached about the 72-hour mark, things were still quiet on Xavier Rhodes returning to the Colts. The Colts did re-sign Rhodes, so the two starting cornerbacks in the base defense will be him and Kenny Moore. Now, that 3rd corner spot in the nickel package remains up for grabs. But instead of the nickel package possibly having two open spots up for grabs, there’s just one in 2021. It’s not the end of the world by any means for Ya-Sin and Tell. Still though, it was unsure if Rhodes was going to return or not, so the reps have shrunk a bit.

-Jim Irsay’s Dream: What Jim Irsay wanted at the skill group this offseason doesn’t appear to be happening, unless the Colts do something crazy in the draft later this month. Before free agency started, Irsay stated that the Colts needed another 1 or 2 big playmakers on offense, at tight end or wide receiver.’ Well, a re-signing of T.Y. Hilton and no outside moves at wideout and/or tight end doesn’t satisfy that desire. Given Chris Ballard’s philosophy, it would be hard to imagine the GM drafting a wide receiver/tight end with his first two picks, thus delaying needs at left tackle/edge rusher all the way until Round 4.

-Running Back Carries: What benefits the Colts (and Carson Wentz) isn’t the greatest thing for the guys in the running back room itself. For the likes of Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins all three will be in contract years while playing in one of the deepest backfields in the NFL. If the desire for any of them is to get more carries, that’s not likely with Jonathan Taylor deserving of that lead back role. Again, for the team, this is a great problem to have. For the individuals though, getting consistent touches, in such a vital season for any running back, is going to be difficult.