The Colts are projected to have the most cap space in 2018 at over $65m, which should let Chris Ballard stock his new coach and revitalized Andrew Luck with plenty of talent. However, the Colts have quite a few free agents to deal with themselves; here I take a look at some of the notable free agents and their likely fate come March.
Adam Vinatieri, K
I don’t think I need to say too much about the longtime Indy kicker. He is obviously the GOAT kicker in NFL history and is chasing down Mort Anderson’s total points record, so he wants to play, and the Colts should give him what he wants.
Projection: ~2 yrs $6m/$4m GTD
Rashaan Melvin, CB
In 2016 it was A.J. Bouye who cashed in on a career contract year, and in 2017 it might be Melvin. The fourth-year corner has bounced around the NFL, finding his way to the Colts last year, playing third fiddle in the Indy secondary for the most part. However, 2017 Melvin has come alive shutting down stud WRs such as Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Deandre Hopkins, and Doug Baldwin. Melvin has improved every year as a pro, so hopefully, he only gets better with a better defense behind him. He will deserve top corner money, but with just one year of elite performance, he may not break the ceiling as the top paid CB, look for him to garner to $12-$14m range
Projection: Either Franchise Tag at ~$14million or 4 yrs $56m/$25m GTD
Pierre Desir, CB
Another young CB having a comeback year in Indy, the former Lindwood corner struggled to find a spot early in the year but is playing well now earning the number two corner spot next to Melvin. Although he is playing great, the Colts have a young CB waiting in the wings with Quincy Wilson who may not have cracked the lineup yet, but his talent is undeniable as a second-round pick flashed early on. Ballard preaches competition, and you can never have enough talented corners in today’s NFL, so look for the Colts to offer substantial number two CB money, such as Morris Claiborne’s contract.
Projection: 3 yrs $15m/$5m GTD
Donte Moncrief, WR
The former third-round pick was always on the brink of a breakout season, but due to inconsistent play and injuries, it never came around. This poor showing may cost the former Ole Miss Rebel a contract in Indy; there were reports that the Colts offered a significant offer to Ashlon Jefferys in free agency this year, so Ballard may want to move on to more consistent option. Most likely the Colts will handle Donte like they did Darius Butler, see who gets resigned or let go by other teams leading up to free agency, allowing Donte test the market and see if the Colts will match it. However, with the possible glut of WRs in free agency this year, Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry, Alshon Jefferys, Jordan Matthews, Paul Richardson, Sammy Watkins among others, the Colts will most likely let number 10 walk.
Projection: Let go
Kamar Aiken, WR
Another prove it deal for Ballard, Aiken has been even more invisible than Donte this year, most likely only returning on a veteran minimum deal if anything.
Projection: Let Go
Jack Mewhort, OL
Another 2014 draft pick, Mewhort has been one of the best players on the team when healthy, but that has been the issue. The second round pick recently went on IR with a knee cartilage injury that he suffered in 2016, and there are reports he may have to retire because of it. There are some attractive options out there in free agency at guard, such as Panthers stuff Andrew Norwell likely hitting the market. However, the Colts could always use Mewhort to solidify the other guard position or giving the unit more depth at a one year prove it deal, similar to D.J. Fluker. If Mewhort plays, I think he does exactly that, giving one more shot of earning a big contract in the NFL, hopefully in Indy.
Projection: 1 yr $2m or retire
Darius Butler, S/CB
The longtime Colt came back to Indy after not finding a better offer in free agency. The former corner has bought into his new role at safety and has played decently this year, but the Colts are flushed with CB talent, and likely won’t offer Butler what he wants. Butler has played well enough to earn a more significant contract elsewhere.
Projection: Let go
Barkevious Mingo, EDGE
The former top-five pick in 2013 has bounced around the NFL and has been considered a colossal bust. Signing a one year prove it deal in Indy has been just what he needed, proving his worth on special teams and defense. However, like Butler, the Colts are flushed with bodies at OLB and are likely to add more talent in the first or second round in this year drafts, but his abilities on special team and defense should garner him a small contract to return to Indy for the near future.
Projection: 2-3 yrs $6m-9m/$2m GTD
Jon Bostic, ILB
Another Ballard signing, the former Bears draft pick had a horrific start to the year, grading below 40.0 according to PFF, but the last few weeks has been a resurgence for the linebacker. Stout against the run, Bostic has shown to be a leader for the Colts defense in recent weeks which could garner him a small contract in a weak free agency class at ILB.
Projection: 1-2yrs $2-$4m/500k GTD
RFA and ERFAs
Erik Swoope TE
A high upside TE season didn’t start until week 12 due to injury, no matter what the outcome is, an ERFA is a low-risk option for 2018.
Projection: ERFA’d at $630,000
Luke Rhodes and Chris Milton
Solid special teamers, can’t hurt to tender at least Rhodes at long snapper
Projection: Both ERFA’d at $630,000
Edwin Jackson and Quan Bray
Both of these RFAs have had the season cut short with injury but have a fair amount of talent. Bray is easily the teams best returner when healthy but has not been able to stay healthy so far. Jackson on the other hand, had a semi-breakout season last year but went on IR this offseason with little details of his injury. Usually, both would be tendered, but at about $1.7m for an original round tender, it may not make sense to put that much money in marginal players who struggle to stay healthy.
Projection: Both given small one year prove it contracts less than their RFA tendered amount
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