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INDIANAPOLISWith NFL turnover inevitable, it is part of the yearly team process on how to replace those lost from the year prior.

For the Colts, that includes about a third of their starters from last season, some at very important parts, along with a few reserves.

Now, free agency remains ongoing, so the Colts could still bring back any of those still listed as a ‘free agent,’ although some are unlikely to return.

Let’s examine how the Colts will (or should) go about replacing those from last season.

  • QB-Matt Ryan (Free Agent): TBD. The replacement from Matt Ryan is a bit complicated whether you are projecting to 2023, or looking beyond that. Perhaps the starter for this year will be Gardner Minshew. Perhaps the starter will be the No. 4 overall pick (or wherever the Colts end up selecting in Round 1). Let’s chat again three weeks from Thursday (Round 1 of the NFL Draft).


  • WR-Parris Campbell (Signed with Giants): Currently, the Colts are banking on the electric, yet inconsistent, Isaiah McKenzie to replace the slot role of Parris Campbell. And Ashton Dulin is probably a guy who could fill some of those No. 3 receiver snaps, too. But thinking McKenzie is the seamless replacement for Campbell is wrong. Campbell, who is 4 inches taller than McKenzie, just completed a season in which he caught 60 balls and played 85 percent of the offensive snaps. In McKenzie’s 6 NFL seasons, his career-highs in those categories are 42 catches and playing 54 percent of the offensive snaps. Isn’t this a position the Colts still need to look into this offseason though?


  • OT-Matt Pryor (Signed with 49ers): Don’t laugh, Pryor did start 9 games for the Colts last season, and played in 16 of the 17 contests. His replacement at left tackle will be Bernhard Raimann, who took over for Pryor for the back half of last season. Pryor then slotted into more of a depth role, and that’s something still up in air for the Colts, particularly in that swing tackle/guard role.


  • DE-Yannick Ngakoue (Free Agent): It seems obvious to call Samson Ebukam the new Yannick Ngakoue for 2023. Yes, Ngakoue remains a free agent, but it appears unlikely he returns to the Colts for a second season. Look for Ebukam to slot into that LEO pass rush defensive end role, with the hope he offers more of a 3-down presence than Ngakoue did. Ngakoue played 64 percent of the defensive snaps last season, which was easily the most for any Colts defensive end (Kwity Paye played 47 percent and Dayo Odeyingbo played 45 percent).


  • LB-Bobby Okereke (Signed with Giants): The hope here is a healthy Shaquille Leonard would return to his normal self in 2023 and slot next to Zaire Franklin for that main 2-man linebacker duo. While Franklin played the most defensive snaps of any Colt last season (99.7 percent), Okereke was on the field for 85 percent of them. Look for E.J. Speed to bump up into that 3rd linebacker role.


  • CB-Stephon Gilmore (Traded to Cowboys): No position group has lost more from last season than cornerback. Gilmore played 1,063 defensive snaps (93.4 percent of the defensive snaps), which was second on the defense. One has to expect cornerback will still receive heavy attention in the draft and perhaps even in free agency. For now though, look for Isaiah Rodgers Sr. and Dallis Flowers to ascend in their roles. And the Colts are still searching for more ‘closers’ as Gilmore certainly did his part in that last season.


  • CB-Brandon Facyson (Signed with Raiders ): Somewhat similar to Pryor, there’s probably a decent chunk of Colts fans not too worried about the loss of Facyson. That’s totally understandable. But Facyson did play the third most cornerback snaps last season, while starting 4 games. So the Colts are losing 2 of their top 3 corners in playing time from last year. Again, expect bumps from Rodgers Sr. and Flowers to go with Kenny Moore in a contract year. But this position group is likely to add another name, who will push for serious playing time.


  • K-Chase McLaughlin (Signed with Buccaneers): The Colts decision to make a big-time offer to kicker Matt Gay meant Chase McLaughlin would not return to the place he calls home in the offseason. Gay will be the new kicker for the Colts, with the hope he’s at a Pro Bowl level, in 2023 and beyond.


  • DT-Byron Cowart (Signed with Chiefs): While Cowart wasn’t a headline loss to the Chiefs, he did play the most of any defensive tackle behind DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart last year, logging 227 defensive snaps. Expect free agent addition Taven Bryant to assume that No. 3 defensive tackle role, with 5th round pick from last year Eric Johnson also pushing for time.


  • OT-Dennis Kelly (Free Agent): The Colts signed the Purdue product at the start of camp. Kelly started 3 games for the Colts, with the team then opting to go for the younger Bernhard Raimann as the left tackle issues continued. Does the 33-year-old Kelly want to keep playing? He was a training camp signing last year.


  • DE-Ben Banogu (Free Agent): In the final year of his rookie contract, Banogu played just 115 defensive snaps in his 16 games played. Depth at defensive end will be filled by the likes of Tyquan Lewis and Dayo Odeyingbo with this position always top of mind for Chris Ballard and the Colts come draft time.


  • S-Rodney McLeod (Free Agent): Given his age (turns 33 in June), does McLeod still want to play? McLeod was much needed for the Colts last year, taking over for rookie Nick Cross in Week 2, and going on to play 1,031 defensive snaps, which ranked 3rd on the team. If McLeod doesn’t return, the Colts will likely pick two starters from these 3: Julian Blackmon, Rodney Thomas II, Nick Cross. Although a veteran safety signing at some point in the offseason, like McLeod was last year, would make some sense. Of all the remaining Colts free agents, McLeod deserves the most attention.


  • P-Matt Haack (Free Agent): With Rigoberto Sanchez expected to return from his torn Achilles, Haack’s time in Indy should be just one year. Sanchez tore his Achilles in early August, so the Colts might need some punter help during the offseason program/camp/the preseason.