INDIANAPOLIS – We are now a month into the 2022 free agency.
The Colts have made 4 outside the building signings (CB-Brandon Facyson, S-Armani Watts, S-Rodney McLeod, LB-Brandon King).
They’ve seen 6 of their own free agents find new homes (RB-Marlon Mack: Texans, OG-Chris Reed: Vikings, OG-Mark Glowsinki: Giants, DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad: Bears, LB-Matthew Adams: Bears, S-George Odum: 49ers).
While the Colts are still expected to make some depth signings in the coming weeks/months, the bulk of the spending is complete for this offseason.
So with that, here are 8 takeaways from the first month of free agency:
1. Free Agency Philosophy Hasn’t Changed
This was a popular, and understandable question, at the start of the offseason.
Given that the Colts had finished in the middle of the AFC for a third straight season, and the fact that there is no first-round pick waiting this offseason, the question was there if Chris Ballard would alter his usual prudent approach to free agency.
Narrator’s voice: He did not.
Ballard made one free agent signing in the first two weeks of players hitting the open market. That one player (CB-Brandon Facyson) inked a one-year deal, reportedly for less than $4 million.
Despite the most cap space in the NFL, the Colts have once again been hesitant to hand it out to free agency.
Past results have not impacted the very stringent spending/value process for Ballard.
2. Gus Bradley Has A Loud Voice
From the trade for Yannick Ngakoue to the signing of Brandon Facyson, the only non-Matt Ryan March moves made by the Colts were two players with direct, and ample, history to Bradley.
Bradley’s presence clearly played a role, likely a significant one, in both of these acquisitions.
While the thought never was that Bradley’s arrival would greatly change what the Colts have built defensively, his voice is definitely being heard.
This will be something to keep an eye on in future roster moves and the style of the defense that comes this fall.
3. Wide Receiver Approach Remains
This follows some similar thinking to the overall free agency philosophy.
In particular though, Chris Ballard has never been a big fan of paying free agent wideouts. At the same time, Ballard has often pointed out that you shouldn’t expected early return from drafted wideouts.
With that, the Colts have Michael Pittman and a slew of unproven names at the receiver position.
Yes, the draft remains and a wide receiver or two will almost certainly be a pick.
Still though, the Colts will likely enter the season (unless a return of T.Y. Hilton occurs) with one of the most.
4. No Splash On Defense?
Jim Irsay has hinted that the Colts were involved a bit with a big name defender.
Was that Tyrann Mathieu? If so, the signing of Rodney McLeod probably squelches that idea.
The trade for Yannick Ngakoue was really important this offseason. More help on that side of the ball was not a huge priority given the other needs on offense.
Still though, Irsay’s hint hasn’t played out.
Currently, the Colts are looking at bringing back 8 of 11 defensive starters.
5. Veteran Help At Safety
Safety was a need for a couple of reasons this offseason.
One is the uncertain health of Julian Blackmon coming off his torn Achilles last October. Another is Gus Bradley wanting to experiment more with personnel groupings involving extra defensive backs.
Here comes Rodney McLeod (123 career starts), who has been a full-time starter since 2013.
McLeod could be needed to start next to Khari Willis, depending on the return date of Willis. Along with that possibility, he should bring a veteran presence to a young secondary.
6. What About Offensive Line?
It’s been a little anti-Chris Ballard to see his offensive line moves in the offseason.
As of now, they are going with Matt Pryor (2 career starts at left tackle) at left tackle. Eric Fisher has not been re-signed, despite Ballard stating optimism in the former No. 1 overall still playing at a high level again.
In the interior, Chris Reed and Mark Glowinski moved on to NFC teams in the offseason. That pushes Danny Pinter into a (on-paper) starting job at right guard.
Depth questions are there in the offensive trenches. Remember, this was an area that Ballard lamented himself for not taking care of more back in 2020.
For the first time since entering the 2018 season, the Colts are looking at multiple new starting offensive linemen.
7. Life After Jack Doyle
Tight end was a position that Chris Ballard stated back in January as a need.
So far though, it’s been quiet there.
Jack Doyle has retired. Mo Alie-Cox was re-signed.
The remaining free agent class at tight end is pretty weak. The draft supposedly has some nice TE depth though.
Kylen Granson is expected to take a jump in Year Two. And right now, it’s him an Alie-Cox clearly atop the depth chart.
8. New Look At Cornerback
No position has seen more change this offseason than corner.
Gone are Rock Ya-Sin (trade), Xavier Rhodes (free agent), T.J. Carrie (free agent).
And Brandon Facyson is incoming.
Expect Isaiah Rodgers to see a major uptick in opportunity/playing time. It’s possible him and Facyson will start in the 3-cornerback package alongside Kenny Moore.
It’ll be interesting to see if the cornerback overhaul brings about some new coverage/technique looks.