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Indianapolis Colts eying top defender in free agency, 2 potential options

Andrew Buller-Russ
Indianapolis Colts
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After trading Carson Wentz and then making another move to bring Matt Ryan to town, the Indianapolis Colts have already made a massive change at quarterback this offseason. They’ve also added a Pro Bowl pass-rusher by trading for Yannick Ngakoue, but as Colts team owner Jim Irsay tells it, there’s more work to be done this offseason. In particular, adding top talent to the defense.

With several accomplished free agents still available, we speculate on just who the Colts might be targeting. First, the specifics on just what Irsay was getting at.

Chris Ballard considering one more monstrous move?

Sitting down to interview with the Indianapolis Colts’ team website, Irsay suggested general manager Chris Ballard might have another big move to make in free agency. It’s not mentioned in this quote, but Irsay is specifically talking about adding a defender.

“There could be — it would have to be at the right price — an addition that excites some,” Irsay said. “But we’ll see. Chris Ballard is looking hard at that. It has to be the right guy at the right number. One more veteran to come in and make a big difference.”

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay on adding another impact defender (h/t to Pro Football Talk)

The Colts traded Rock Ya-Sin in the Ngakoue trade, maybe they’d like to replace his spot in the depth chart? That’s a possibility along with a few other defensive needs. With over $20 million to spend, the Colts still rank among the top-five in salary cap space this offseason, so they should be able to sign anyone they want, if there’s enough mutual interest.

Related: Indianapolis Colts pursued trading two first round picks for ‘young franchise QB’ before Matt Ryan trade

Indianapolis Colts free agent targets: 2 potential options

We know the Colts are still kicking the tires on free agents before the draft begins in late April, but just who might they be looking at signing? Bobby Wagner signed with the Los Angeles Rams since this interview, so maybe he was a possibility, but even so, there are other players out there. Let’s have some fun and speculate on who they might be.

  • Tyrann Mathieu, S – Somehow still unsigned, the Honey Badger has generated a lot of interest, but maybe his price point is too high? Tough to say, whoever signs Mathieu will be getting a motivated defender who can do a bit of everything on the back end.
  • Stephon Gilmore, CB – Long known as one of the best shutdown cornerbacks in football, how in the world is Gilmore still a free agent? Many were shocked to see the Patriots unload him for just a 2023 6th round pick, but now any team could have him for even less. He maybe wants to play closer to home on the east coast as he’s done throughout his 10-year career, but Gilmore can still be a difference maker anywhere in the league for some mystery team in 2022.

That’s it. That’s the list. There simply aren’t that many top-rated defenders left in free agency who fit the Colts’ current roster needs. They’ve already addressed their pass-rush and have more young depth behind Ngakoue and Kwity Paye with Dayo Odeyingbo, so it’s unlikely to be an edge rusher such as Jadeveon Clowney or Melvin Ingram.

Unless they’re somehow going to get involved in another trade, going after Jessie Bates, who hasn’t signed his franchise tag with the Bengals yet, there’s pretty slim pickings, when it comes to a household name anyway. There’s still plenty of depth remaining.

Still, landing either Mathieu or Gilmore would look really good on paper in what’s already been a productive Colts offseason. Can they pull another big move off? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Related: Top NFL free agents of 2022: Looking at the best 200 players available