NFL News & Analysis

2017 Free Agency Preview: Indianapolis Colts

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05: Jack Doyle #84 of the Indianapolis Colts carries the ball against the New York Jets in the first half during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

[Editor’s note: This preview was originally published on Feb. 25, 2017, and updated on March 6 to reflect changes in the market do to franchise tags, re-signings, cuts, etc.]

What you need to know

After finishing third in what was a poor AFC South division in 2016, the Colts head into the offseason with as many as six defensive regulars up for free agency. The good news: 1) the Colts’ defense was already one of the worst units in the league, and 2) there’s plenty of cap room for the team to acquire talent, especially in the front-seven. While Andrew Luck (92.4 grade in 2016 – fourth among quarterbacks) can do quite a bit to carry an offense single-handedly, don’t rule out the Colts tapping into a good group of free agent guards, or even going after a player like Martellus Bennett, as well, in free agency.

Salary cap room

$53,279,812 (seventh in NFL; as of 3/6/17)

Biggest needs

  • Edge defenders
  • Cornerback
  • Inside linebacker
  • Guard

Notable free agents

  • Robert Mathis, Edge, 42.1, overall grade in 2016
  • D’Qwell Jackson, ILB, 43.0
  • Trent Cole, Edge, 72.0
  • Erik Walden, Edge, 41.2
  • Darius Butler, CB/S, 82.6
  • Mike Adams, S, 83.3
  • Jack Doyle, TE/FB, 76.0
  • Robert Turbin, HB, 67.4

Must re-sign

Jack Doyle, TE/FB, 76.0 overall grade in 2016

Most of the Colts’ pending free agents are relatively replaceable, but Doyle has been something of a Swiss Army knife for the Colts’ offense, serving as their move tight end for 750 of the teams’ 1,096 possible snaps last season (68.4 percent). While he struggled as a pass protector (allowing eight total hurries in 76 pass-blocking snaps), he caught 81.9 percent of his targets for 584 yards and five touchdowns, grading out as the 16th-highest-graded receiving tight end in 2016. While the Colts will understandably push a lot of assets toward the defense this offseason, retaining Doyle should be a priority for Indianapolis.

Dream splash

Nick Perry, Edge, Green Bay Packers, 82.2

While the last time the Colts signed a former Packers edge player (Walden) didn’t materialize the way they probably hoped, Perry differs in that he is actually coming off of a good season as he enters free agency. Even if the Colts didn’t have such a big hole stemming from the pending free agency of Mathis, Cole, and Walden, Perry represents a clear upgrade over what the Colts have gotten from the position in recent seasons. Indianapolis’ pass rush, ranking 32nd, 23rd and 30th in our pass-rushing grades over the last three years, would gain an immediate boost from a player with a 10.0 pass-rushing productivity (12 sacks, six quarterback hits and 33 hurries) in 2016, who was also the most productive player at his position against the run.

Top 2017 free agency prospects

Calais Campbell, DI, Arizona Cardinals, 90.4

Acquiring the fifth-most-productive rusher and the 11th-most-productive run defender at his position in 2016 would go a long way toward moving arguably the worst front-seven in the league up to the middle of the pack quickly.

A.J. Bouye, CB, Houston Texans, 90.9

Bouye was given more snaps last season than all of his previous seasons combined, and repaid the Texans with a season of consistent play that culminated in 14 pass breakups, three interceptions and a 59.5 passer rating allowed (fifth-best in the league). The Colts were the third-lowest-graded team in pass coverage a year ago, and the addition of Bouye to team with a hopefully resurgent Vontae Davis would make a corner duo worthy of a possible division champion.

T.J. Lang, Guard, Green Bay Packers

The Colts had the least-efficient offensive line a season ago in terms of pass protection, allowing 28 sacks, 44 quarterback hits and 190 hurries (69.5 pass-blocking efficiency). Lang comes from the league’s most-efficient unit, having himself allowed zero sacks and zero quarterback hits a season ago, while grading positively as a run blocker in all but one of his seasons as a pro. Lang has experience protecting a quarterback that takes longer to throw (Aaron Rodgers was second a year ago with an average of 3.02 seconds to throw), meaning there would not be much of an adjustment to protecting Andrew Luck (sixth with 2.88 average seconds to throw).

2017 Free Agency Rankings
Top 50 free agents
Every 2017 free agent ranked by 2016 overall grade
10 free agents who can make an immediate impact
10 veteran free agents worth a one-year contract
10 sleeper free agents who could bring surprise upside
10 splash free-agent signings we’d like to see
Quarterback rankings
Running back rankings
Wide receiver rankings
Tight end rankings
Offensive linemen rankings
Edge defender rankings
Interior defender rankings
Cornerback rankings
Safety rankings
Linebacker rankings

NFC EastDallas Cowboys
NFC EastNew York Giants
NFC EastPhiladelphia Eagles
NFC EastWashington Redskins
AFC EastBuffalo Bills
AFC EastMiami Dolphins
AFC EastNew England Patriots
AFC EastNew York Jets
NFC WestArizona Cardinals
NFC WestLos Angeles Rams
NFC WestSan Francisco 49ers
NFC WestSeattle Seahawks
AFC WestDenver Broncos
AFC WestKansas City Chiefs
AFC WestLos Angeles Chargers
AFC WestOakland Raiders
NFC NorthChicago Bears
NFC NorthDetroit Lions
NFC NorthGreen Bay Packers
NFC NorthMinnesota Vikings
AFC NorthBaltimore Ravens
AFC NorthCincinnati Bengals
AFC NorthCleveland Browns
AFC NorthPittsburgh Steelers
NFC SouthAtlanta Falcons
NFC SouthCarolina Panthers
NFC SouthNew Orleans Saints
NFC SouthTampa Bay Buccaneers
AFC SouthHouston Texans
AFC SouthIndianapolis Colts
AFC SouthJacksonville Jaguars
AFC SouthTennessee Titans

Safety worth way more than 2 points. Help protext your family with fast, affordable life insurance. You could be covered in 10 minutes! Get a Free Quote.

NFL Featured Tools


Unlock all tools and content including Player Grades, Fantasy, NFL Draft, Premium Stats, Greenline and DFS.

$9.99 / mo
$79.99 / yr