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Colts restructure Matt Ryan’s contract, 4 free agents they should go sign

Jason Burgos

It seems the Matt Ryan trade may not be the last notable move the Indianapolis Colts make during the 2022 NFL offseason.

Earlier this week, the Colts made a major offseason splash when they filled their starting quarterback vacancy with four-time Pro Bowler Matt Ryan. However, by bringing in an established star with a sizable contract, the early assumption was the move would eat up a good portion of the cap space the team had left.

However, it seems the franchise was able to squeeze out some more cap space via a contract restructuring with their newest addition. On Thursday, ESPN NFL insider Field Yates reported that the team converted $12 million of Ryan’s contract into a signing bonus. The move now gives them an extra $6 million of money to spend and brings their total available space up to $21 million.

Related: Matt Ryan trade – 4 winners and losers

This means that the team that one betting site has as the odds on favorite to win the AFC South in 2022 has room to make some more meaningful additions. With that in mind, here are three available difference-makers the Colts should go scoop up from the NFL free-agent market.

Jason Pierre-Paul brings a much needed edge rusher to Colts

matt ryan, indianapolis colts
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts were in the bottom eight in sacks in 2021. It was a glaring weakness for a defense that has some solid building block pieces. However, if you hope to be a contender in a league completely dominated by the passing game, you have to have reliable pass rushers. Enter Jason Pierre-Paul.

At 33, he isn’t the freak athlete that blew minds for the New York Giants. Nevertheless, he is still a two-time Super Bowl champ and was a key part of the Tampa Buccaneers defense that lifted the Lombardi Trophy two seasons ago. If you chalk his down year in 2021 to bad luck with injuries, the Colts could get a consistent edge rusher with double-digit sack potential.

  • Matt Ryan stats (2021): 3,968 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, 12 interceptions

If the team wants to win the AFC South this season, they need a player like Pierre-Paul.

Julio Jones reunites with Matt Ryan in Indy

matt ryan, indianapolis colts
Credit: USA Today Network

This move almost makes too much sense. When the Tennessee Titans released Julio Jones earlier this month it surprised many in the league. Obviously, he is in a decline from the player who snagged 99 catches and had 1,394 yards in 2019. However, there seems like no better option to help rekindle Jones’ Hall-of-Fame talents than his long-time QB in Ryan.

Jones and Ryan put up unbelievable numbers during their time pitching and catching in Atlanta. It is surely no coincidence that the wide receiver’s worst year as a pro came in his lone season without Ryan. Putting them back together would be a great way to help Ryan quickly assimilate into Indy, and give the team an elite B-side to top Colts wideout Michael Pittman, Jr.

Bobby Wagner brings Indianapolis Colts a star defensive anchor

matt ryan, indianapolis colts
Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks’ decision to cut eight-time Pro Bowler Bobby Wagner was a shock decision. However, considering the various other moves they have made, like trading franchise QB Russell Wilson, the team is clearly in the midst of a roster rebuild and salary cap facelift.

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It’s not every day a player of Wagner’s caliber becomes available. Now, granted, the team isn’t hurting for linebackers since they already have stellar talents like Bobby Okereke and Darius Leonard. However, imagine the absurdity of a three-headed LB core of Okereke, Leonard, and Wagner? It could be viewed as a vanity move or the last chip that makes them a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Rob Gronkowski finally gives Colts a real weapon at TE

matt ryan, indianapolis colts
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After Pittman, Jr. and Zach Pascal, star running back Jonathan Taylor had the third-most catches for the team in 2021. They got nothing from the tight end position and the Pascal wasn’t anything to write home about either. For a team that has contender upside, adding a four-time Super Bowl champion and do-it-all TE makes a bunch of sense.

Is Rob Gronkowski likely to return to the Bucs? Probably. However, if the Colts are open to outbidding Tampa Bay, there is certainly an appealing upside to be on a team that could be a major player next season. Especially, if the Colts were to sign both Jones and “Gronk.”