Skip to main content

What to do with the 7 most important Indianapolis Colts free agents

Indianapolis Colts
Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023-24 Indianapolis Colts season ended dramatically and heart-breakingly against the AFC South champion Houston Texans. However, finishing the season with a winning record can be considered successful. Especially when many NFL experts predicted this team would finish with another losing record based on the overall talent. And there are still some big questions about this roster.

Related: Grading the Indianapolis Colts’ 2023 NFL Draft class

The Colts front office and coaching staff decided to go young in the secondary, knowing it would most likely be a roller coaster. And that’s exactly what it was, thanks to injuries, violating NFL policies, and inexperience. The hope now is, that all of the youth will have grown from all of the experience they got this season. 

If the young players take a step forward in the right direction, the 28th-ranked Colts defense will improve next season. The overall talent on the roster is good enough to win if there are some improvements/impactful additions made this offseason. But first, the team needs to be smart with their $71.2 million in cap space and make tough decisions about re-signing some of their own. 

This roster proved to be much more talented than the experts and analysts initially credited. Here’s what the Colts should do with their seven most important free agents.

Related: See where the Indianapolis Colts land in Sportsnaut’s NFL Power Rankings

Re-Sign Julian Blackmon

NFL: Frankfurt Games-Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

It never fails, a player in the final year of his contract has either the best year of his career or one good enough to be brought back. Julian Blackmon ended his rookie contract with the Colts, having the best season of his career. 

Stats: 88 TKL (65 solo, 1 TFL), 1 QB Hit, 8 PD, 4 INT, 2 FR

The 2020 third-round pick out of Utah has more than validated his draft-day selection, having played both free and strong safety and nickel cornerback effectively. Now, he’s set to receive his second NFL contract, whether with the Colts or another team remains to be seen. Something working in the favor of the horseshoe is the fact that this year’s safety class is pretty deep. So Indianapolis will have their choice of replacement should they decide to go in a different direction. 

However, something working in favor of Blackmon is the familiarity he has with the organization and the style of defense they run. And, of course, the previously mentioned fact that he’s shown some versatility on defense. Something else of concern is his health. He’s ended two of his four seasons on IR. All of this should keep his price tag in a range comfortable enough for the Colts to re-sign him and not use the franchise tag on him ($17.1 million for safety).

Related: See where Anthony Richardson lands in Sportsnaut’s NFL QB Rankings

Let Gardner Minshew test free agency

indianapolis colts
Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Gardner Minshew had an incredible season. This past year may be the last one he has as a full-time starting quarterback. This year’s group of free agency quarterbacks is made up of backups, with Minshew coming off the best season. Kirk Cousins could be a free agent too if Minnesota opts to move on from him. 

Stats: 62.2% Comp. rate, 3,305 yards, 15 TD, 9 Int 

Colts fans got to experience the highs and lows of the Minshew ride. Ultimately, he and the team came up a game short of the playoffs. He did show he can effectively run Shane Steichen’s offense but Minshew’s limitations were put on display. Considering he’s coming off a tremendous season, it’s likely that another team decides to pay big money for Minshew’s services.

The projected market value for him is about $5 million. He made $3.5 million last season, so a pay raise isn’t out of the question. The Colts still have Sam Ehlinger on the roster, and now he’s had a year in Steichen’s offense as well. And considering the team has said they’re going to be aggressive in the free-agent market, it would make sense for both sides to move on from one another.

Related: Indianapolis Colts draft picks 2024

Re-sign Kenny Moore

kenny moore
Credit: Robert Scheer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Kenny Moore had a terrific bounce-back season in Gus Bradley’s defensive scheme. It also coincides with his final year under contract with the Colts. Out of all the horseshoe-free agents, Moore’s negotiations might be the most difficult.

Stats: 93 TKL (68 solo, 8 TFL), 2 QB Hits, 6 PD, 3 INT, 1.5 Sacks

Heading into the 2022-23 season, Moore made it known that he wanted a new contract and wasn’t happy with his current compensation. Now he’s a free agent and will presumably have his pick of teams to play for next season. A few things working against him are his age (28) and the position he plays (slot CB). NFL teams typically haven’t paid big money to slot cornerbacks in years past.

However, with passing attacks becoming more prevalent, slot corners have become more important. Moore may be hitting free agency at the right time. The Colts could decide to franchise tag him, but that would cost $19.8 million. Most likely, the team will try to work out a long-term deal, but it remains to be seen if Moore harbors any hostility towards this franchise after not coming to an extension previously.

Let Zack Moss test free agency

zack moss
Credit: Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Zack Moss got exactly what he could have asked for this season. After spending the first two and a half years in Buffalo, he was traded to Indianapolis and was able to showcase his talent. This past season he started eight games and looked every bit like an NFL lead running back. 

Stats: 794 yards, 4.3 Y/A, 5 TD, 27 catches, 192 yards, 2 TD

During his time with the Colts, he rushed 259 times for 1,159 yards, 4.5 yards per carry, and six touchdowns, catching 31 passes for an additional 204 yards and two touchdowns. This year’s group of free-agent running backs has a lot of big names. Derrick Henry, Austin Ekeler, Tony Pollard, D’Andre Swift, Josh Jacobs, and Saquon Barkley. Only Swift and Jacobs are younger than Moss, and with running backs, age is of utmost importance.

As of this writing, GM Chris Ballard currently has seven draft picks. Running back isn’t a high priority and they drafted a running back in last year’s draft. The running back situation in the NFL is unfortunate, and the market value for Moss is about $5 million. However, it doesn’t make good business sense to invest almost $50 million into the position. The team can find replacement-level value on the open market. 

Related: NFL free agency predictions 2024: Projected landing spots for top players, including Chris Jones and Kirk Cousins

Let Rigoberto Sanchez test free agency

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Credit: Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Rigoberto Sanchez finished this past season on a strong note, ranking 15th in both punts and yards and ninth in net yards per punt. He had the second most punts this season in his career. Only in his first year with the Colts did he have more.

Stats: 68 punts, 3,281 yads, Y/P 48.3, 370 Return Yards, 2,911 Net

The return yards going up the last two years is not a good sign. However, some of that can be explained by the coaching change on special teams this past season. And punters can play for a long time, so Sanchez’s age (29) is not a huge concern. In this year’s group of free agent punters, Sanchez is the third oldest punter and has already suffered an Achilles injury in 2022. If the Colts decide to gamble and go cheaper and younger, they could look to draft 26-year-old Tory Taylor out of Iowa. Taylor set a new collegiate record this season by racking up 4,181 punting yards.

Related: Top NFL free agents 2024

Re-signing Michael Pittman Jr. is most important for Indianapolis Colts

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The fourth-year man out of USC has shown tremendous growth and development since being selected in the second round of the draft. After the season that Michael Pittman Jr. just had, it’s a no-brainer for the Colts to re-sign their No. 1 wide receiver and top free agent. 

Stats: 109 catches, 1,152 yards, 10.6 Y/R, 4 TD

When a player reaches free agency, there is always a concern that he will sign with a new team. The market value for him is about $22.5 million, and if the Colts get any concern that Pittman might sign elsewhere, they’ll use the franchise tag of $21.8 million on him. Now that the team has their quarterback of the future, they need to surround him with as many playmakers as possible. 

Losing Pittman would mean that the Colts would need to replace him and need to add a playmaker. At this point, he understands how free agency and the franchise tag work, so while he may not like getting the tag, he would understand it. And if he got the tag, an extension can still be worked out. 

Related: NFL playoff predictions

Mentioned in this article:

More About: