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INDIANAPOLISAs the Colts have continually tried to replace Al-Quadin Muhammad in recent years, it’s the former 6th round pick that always seems to get the last laugh.

Muhammad started all 17 games for the Colts in 2021.

He has given a position group that has been defined by young guys failing to live up to their potential, much-needed consistency. Muhammad finished last year with 6.0 sacks and 13 quarterback hits.

Ever since the Colts added Muhammad from the Saints in early September 2018 (via a waiver claim), he’s offered the most of the youthful D-line options.

A handful of months before Muhammad joined the Colts, Chris Ballard had just drafted Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis in the second round of the 2018 Draft. In the following year, Ben Bangou was another 2nd round selection.

Yet, when evaluating that quartet after 4 seasons, Muhammad has given the Colts much more than the others.

The main reason for that has been his availability.

Muhammad has played in 50 straight games with the Colts.

As Muhammad hits free agency for a second straight season, he is joined there by Turay and Lewis.

While Turay and Lewis have shown a little more individual pop at various points in their careers, they haven’t sniffed the reliability of Muhammad.

And with Ballard wanting to build defensive line depth in 2022, retaining Muhammad would be wise.

But having Muhammad as a starter again would be a mistake.

It’s time to upgrade in the starting lineup, while still hoping Muhammad can be a rotational option for the Colts.