INDIANAPOLIS – When you bring up the NFL Combine, the phrase ‘underwear Olympics’ is often mentioned in describing the event.
While evaluating more than 300 draft prospects is a huge part of this coming week in Indianapolis, the week of action doesn’t stop there.
Frank Reich and Chris Ballard are scheduled to meet the media on Tuesday, for their first press conferences since the season ended.
Outside of the Combine, league business will be abundant this week with GMs and head coaches from all around the league here, ahead of free agency starting on March 16th.
What should Colts fans be watching for at the Combine?
1. Carson Wentz Update
Ah, the elephant in the room.
From a deadline standpoint, there’s no real reason to make a public decision on Carson Wentz until a roster bonus of $5 million and the final $7 million (of his $22 million contract), is due on March 18th.
So, it’s unlikely Ballard or Reich will talk specifics on the plan for Wentz in 2022.
But it will be interesting to see if their tone has changed at all after the distant comments made in mid-January.
The emotions following the embarrassing end to the ’21 season should be a little less raw at this week’s press conference settings, compared to what was felt las time we heard from Ballard and Reich.
Does that mean a shift in the viewpoint on Wentz?
2. Decisions From T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle Retirements
It is a bit odd we haven’t heard the retirement decisions on T.Y. Hilton (a free agent in 2022) and/or Jack Doyle (under contract through 2022) yet.
Similar to the timeline point above, it’s not like Hilton and/or Doyle need to make a decision ahead of some specific date.
But it would help the Colts to know their intentions, particularly at two positions that need some off-season attention.
Hilton is also a free agent this offseason, so that’s another layer to his situation.
3. Playoffs Alter Thinking?
The last time we heard from Frank Reich was January 10th (the day after the season-ending loss in Jacksonville). The last time we heard from Chris Ballard was January 13th.
Both held their season-ending pressers before the playoffs unfolded.
Did watching the respective playoff runs of the Bengals and Rams impact how they view the Colts when it comes to roster building/coaching?
Outside of quarterback, seeing what elite pass catchers did for the teams making deep playoff runs had to be hard to overlook.
Was that a takeaway from Ballard/Reich?
4. In-House Free Agents
We are just over two weeks away from the new league year (aka free agency) starting.
On March 16th, these Colts will become free agents unless the team re-signs them in the coming two weeks.
Chris Ballard has never shied away from letting in-house free agents hit the open market, yet the Colts still bringing them back.
Does Ballard view any of his FAs as priorities to bring back before the rest of the NFL can make their respective pitches?
As of now, it’s looking like the Colts will have more than $40 million in cap space this offseason. Along with the other items mentioned above, this week in Indy is also about team personnel people speaking with the agents of upcoming FAs to gauge possible landing spots.
5. 2022 Quarterback Class
When you don’t have a 1st round pick, this week probably won’t have as much draft-headline focus for the Colts.
But given Indy’s quarterback situation, you have to be locked into that position.
In a weaker quarterback draft class, will the Colts find an intriguing prospect that they want to spend an early pick on?
It’s not something the Colts have done under Chris Ballard.
One would argue it’s time to explore such a move, banking on Frank Reich’s ability to develop such a prospect.