The Indianapolis Colts have major questions moving forward into 2018. Free agency will play a big role in addressing those questions. These are the five targets they should investigate.
It is amazing what one player can do to a franchise. The 2018 season was a microcosm of that for a variety of teams. It was no more evident than on the Indianapolis Colts.
Andrew Luck, the former number one pick and one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL, was lost for the season before it even began. A mishandled shoulder injury cost the Colts signal caller the entirety of 2017-18. With that injury the Colts season went down in flames.
Entering the 2018 offseason, the Colts will expect to have Luck back. That is a big leg up in the NFL. However, the rest of the roster will need some upgrades.
An offseason ago the Colts brought in a new general manager in Chris Ballard. He took over for Ryan Grigson who set up Ballard with one of the worst overall rosters in the league. With Ballard in town, the franchise is entering a recovery mode.
The first step was last year’s draft. The Colts grabbed safety Malik Hooker in the first round, considered by many to be a steal. Corner Quincy Wilson out of Florida, the Colts second round pick was also also lauded as a first round talent and thus a steal. Overall the league was high on Ballard’s first effort in the draft for the Colts.
With so much dead money tied up a season ago, free agency was quiet in Indianapolis. Some pointed to the massive extension signed by Luck as a hindrance for the team to spend money. Plenty of teams have quarterbacks on massive contracts and can build contenders around them. That will be Ballard’s job going forward.
Indianapolis enters the 2018 offseason with $82 million in cap space. Ballard can get to work on what owner Jim Irsay brought him in to do. Utilize Luck’s prime and take the Colts back to the Super Bowl.
5. Trent Murphy, OLB/DE
Former team: Washington Redskins
The first name on this list is not a splashy signing but a much needed one. The Indianapolis Colts were second to last in the NFL with 25 sacks on the season. That was a big reason why they gave up the fifth most passing yards. The best way to neutralize a passing attack is to get after the quarterback. That is where former Washington Redskins’ pass rusher Trent Murphy comes in.
Overall this free agency class lacks elite pass rushers, especially if DeMarcus Lawrence returns to the Dallas Cowboys. Murphy is one of the more accomplished of the bunch, and at only 27 years old, has room for growth.
Last season the Colts snagged Jabaal Sheard who led the team in sacks. Even with that limited production, the front seven is one of the weakest in the entire league. Adding a player like Murphy, at a reasonable price would allow the Colts to spread out their spending while getting production.
Murphy, as a scheme fit matches what Indianapolis liked to do a year ago. Like Sheard, he has experience playing in a multiple front style where he can play either standing up or in a two-point stance. His best role would be as a stand up linebacker, being only 250 pounds.
Even if Indianapolis is able to bring in a player like Murphy should not stop the Colts from addressing pass rush in the draft. Owning the number three pick puts them in a prime position to grab a player like Bradley Chubb, the consensus top edge rusher.
A trio of Murphy, Sheard and Chubb should add some juice to a Colts defense that severely lacks it. Having players put pressure on the quarterback will also aide their young, but talented, secondary going forward.