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6 free agents the Indianapolis Colts should pursue in free agency

The 2023 League Year begins on March 15 with the top NFL free agents poised to sign with new teams. While the Indianapolis Colts aren’t among the leaders in NFL salary cap space, there are a few moves general manager Chris Ballard can make to improve the team in 2023.

The Colts were flawed from top to bottom in 2022 with a long list of issues that need to be fixed if they want to get back to winning again. Even before Indianapolis finds a few ways to navigate the salary cap, via restructures and cap casualties, there’s enough money to make a few moves.

  • Indianapolis Colts cap space: $12.7 million

Related: Indianapolis Colts draft picks 2023

There have been some new additions to the free agent market and there are most likely to be some more additions as well. Here are six free agents the Indianapolis Colts could target in free agency.

Joe Flacco, quarterback

NFL: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
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The running thought is that both Matt Ryan and Nick Foles are going to be cut leaving Sam Ehlinger as the only quarterback on the roster. Ehlinger got his chance last season to show what he has developed and truthfully it was great to see. However, there doesn’t appear to be enough for the team to consider him their franchise quarterback.

Related: Potential Indianapolis Colts’ cap casualties

It’s widely expected that the Colts will draft their franchise quarterback this year and in doing so they’ll need a veteran QB to come in and help mentor. Enter former Super Bowl-winning Joe Flacco. There are other options the team can choose from. For example, Andy Dalton, Jacoby Brissett, Teddy Bridgewater, or Gardner Minshew but none of those guys ever won it all. And every one of them except for Dalton was able to be a legitimate starter for more than three seasons.

If Flacco decides to keep playing in 2023, instead of retiring, he can be a great addition to the team and quarterbacks on the roster. Considering the team has aspirations of winning a Super Bowl having a guy that’s been there can provide valuable experience and knowledge.

Taylor Lewan, left tackle

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While Bernhard Raimann seems to be in a position to be the Colts’ left tackle in 2023, there’s a school of thought that a veteran could be brought in. Whether that player comes in as a swing tackle or challenges Raimann for the job, adding an offensive tackle can provide much-needed depth in the trenches. It would also mirror the approach Shane Steichen witnessed in Philadelphia, with depth and versatility on the offensive line coveted by the Eagles.

The logic is sound, but there aren’t a lot of options for the Colts. Either the team is bringing back Eric Fisher or Jason Peters. Both of these guys bring their own bags of concerns. While there are the likes of Orlando Brown and Donovan Smith, both might be out of the Colts’ price range.

However, Indianapolis could look towards one of its AFC South rivals for a solution. The Tennessee Titans released Taylor Lewan, ushering in a rebuild. While there is uncertainty surrounding Lewan’s plans for his football career, the 31-year-old said on Bussin’ with The Boys that he might be open to staying within the division.

This could lead the Colts into a very fruitful conversation with Lewan. Where they pitch the idea of him competing and mentoring the young tackle Raimann. Lewan also provides toughness, which would hopefully bring it out of the rest of the linemen.

Frank Clark, defensive end

NFL: Super Bowl LVII-Kansas City Chiefs vs Philadelphia Eagles
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The Colts need a dominant pass rusher yet again. Yannick Ngakoue was good last year, but he’s primarily a pass-rushing specialist at this point in his career. The team could decide to bring him back as well, however, it’s possible someone else gives him an offer he can’t refuse. 

Enter in two-time Super Bowl-winning Frank Clark. Despite both Clark and current defensive coordinator Gus Bradley having Seattle in their background their time there did not overlap. Subsequently, Bradley did get some really good opportunities to see Clark play up close and in person when Bradley was with the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders. For that matter, Steichen game planned against Clark, too.

Clark doesn’t offer the kind of “pure” pass-rushing ability that Ngakoue does. However, Clark has shown to be a bit better against the run and can greatly benefit from playing next to a dominant defensive tackle. Also, Clark has shown to be much healthier in his career than Kwity Paye.

Related: 5 Indianapolis Colts draft targets at tight end

Rock Ya-Sin, cornerback

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Las Vegas Raiders
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

It’s usually not a good idea to bring back players who were once a part of the organization. However, in this case, there is some sense in bringing back Rock Ya-Sin. He’s a Chris Ballard guy for one thing and part of the reason Ya-Sin was traded was that having an elite pass rush is more important than a really good cornerback. 

Ngakoue didn’t pan out the way the Colts were hoping, and while Ya-Sin didn’t duplicate the success from his 2021 season he still had a very good year with Las Vegas. In coming back to Indy, he’d have to be accepting that his first year back would see him be in more of a rotation than being a full-time starter. He’s still young enough that he can make a good pairing with Isaiah Rodgers for years to come.

Ronald Darby, cornerback

NFL: Denver Broncos Training Camp
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

An older cornerback compared to Ya-Sin it can be argued that Darby is a better corner. Normally, a player of Darby’s pedigree would be in high demand and command a high dollar figure. However, in 2022 he only appeared in five games for Denver. 

In the Week 5 matchup between Indianapolis and Denver he tore his ACL and missed the rest of the season. He most likely won’t be ready for the start of the upcoming season. Normally, this wouldn’t be ideal but in the case of the Colts, it can work out well. The team can start with Stephon Gilmore and Isaiah Rodgers until Darby is ready. 

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Then to help make sure Darby doesn’t overdo it the team can work him in a rotation. It’s possible that idea of not being a starter upon return isn’t appealing to him. Along with possibly receiving less money from the Colts than another team. We’ll see if Ballard follows through on his message from his end-of-the-season press conference or if he continues doing exactly what he’s been doing for the past six years.

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