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2024 Free Agency Preview: Biggest Positional Needs for the Indianapolis Colts in 2024

Michael Pittman Jr -Fantasy-Football-Rankings-Draft-Sleepers-Waiver-Wire-Pickups-icon-rotoballer

The Colts were impressive in Shane Steichen's first year as a head coach. While they missed the playoffs, the team finished with a winning record and were in playoff contention through the entire season. Their first-round draft pick, quarterback Anthony Richardson, played just four games, making the team's performance even more of an accomplishment. Given their pieces on offense, this looks like one of the more exciting, young, and talented offenses in the NFL.

Previous Divisional Editions breaking down each team's 2023 season, their offseason assets, and their top-three positional needs going into the 2024 NFL Season can be found here:

The problem for the Colts lies on the defensive side of the ball. They struggled mightily to get stops consistently. While the offense is filled with blue-chip talent, the defense is significantly lacking. They have a lot of assets at their disposal to improve their defense for the 2024 season and they'll need to do so to take the next step. If you want to take advantage of all of our great premium tools, please use promo code, "BOOM" to receive a 10% discount. 

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

Season Review and Offseason Assets

First-time head coach Shane Steichen has to be happy with how his team played last season. They finished with a 9-8 record and just barely missed out on the playoffs. Considering they only got four starts (more like two games) out of first-round quarterback Anthony Richardson and just 10 games out of star running back Jonathan Taylor, that has to have him feeling pretty good. Despite those injuries, they still managed to finish 10th in points scored and 15th in yards gained. If Richardson and Taylor play 17 games in 2024, this offense is going to surprise people and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them as a top-10 unit. There is some major fantasy football appeal to this Indianapolis offense.

Defensively, they struggled in a big way. They finished 28th in points allowed and 24th in yards given up. Most of their offseason work is likely to be dedicated to that side of the football. Luckily for the Colts, they have a lot of assets this offseason to work with.

The Colts have just over $72 million in cap space. They do have some free agents they’ll likely want to bring back. The first is Michael Pittman Jr. One way or another, he’ll be in Indy for the 2024 season. He’ll either be extended or franchised. Kenny Moore and Julian Blackmon are two other free agents the Colts will likely have interest in bringing back. Moore and Blackmon combined for 181 tackles and seven interceptions. Re-signing these three players -- or even two of them -- is going to dwindle their cap space a bit, but they have other ways of creating more space.

Cutting Mo Alie-Cox and E.J. Speed would save them $9 million. Star guard Quenton Nelson has a $25.2 million cap hit and could be restructured to save cap space. Center Ryan Kelly could be cut to save $12.4 million or with a cap hit of $14.6 million could also be extended to lower the cap hit. Gardner Minshew is also a free agent and after how well he played in relief, bringing him back to back-up Richardson makes a lot of sense. They have a lot of flexibility cap-wise. They have money to spend and plenty of moves to increase that total if they need to.

The Colts own the No. 15 (first-rounder), No. 46 (second-rounder), No. 82 (third-rounder), No.117 (fourth-rounder), No. 149 (fifth-rounder), No. 192 (sixth-rounder), and No. 231 (seventh-rounder) overall picks in this year’s NFL Draft.

 

Biggest Needs

1. Cornerback

One could argue that wide receiver should be here because technically Pittman isn’t on the roster, but considering their cap space, I’m counting it as a virtual lock that Pittman is either extended or franchised. If for some unknown reason that doesn’t happen, wide receiver becomes a massive need. If Pittman is back, as expected, then between him, Josh Downs, and Alec Pierce the team has a really good trio who complement each other in a lot of different ways.

At cornerback, as mentioned before Kenny Moore is a free agent. The other cornerbacks on the roster are Julius Brents (2023 second-rounder), Jaylon Jones (2023 seventh-rounder), Darrell Baker (2022 UDFA), Dallis Flowers (2022 UDFA), and Chris Lammons (2019 UDFA). If Moore is not re-signed this position needs a major influx of talent. Moore finished this season with 93 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, three interceptions, two defensive touchdowns, and six pass deflections. He played 1,088 snaps. If he were to leave in free agency, that would create a massive hole in their secondary.

2. Safety

Julian Blackmon is a free agent. The other safeties on the roster who contributed last season are Nick Cross (2022 third-rounder) and Rodney Thomas II (2022 seventh-rounder). Blackmon had four interceptions, eight pass deflections, 88 tackles, and five tackles for a loss. He played 986 snaps. Much like at cornerback, if Blackmon leaves in free agency, this position needs an influx of young talent and depth.

3. Defensive Tackle

Last year, the Colts gave up the ninth-most rushing yards and fourth-most rushing touchdowns. They finished 25th in expected points contributed by their rush defense at 11.9 points. One of their starting defensive tackles, Grover Stewart, is a free agent. He played 38% of the snaps in 11 games. He finished with 41 tackles, five tackles for a loss, and 0.5 sacks.

They had several good pass-rushing edges last year including Samson Ebukam (245 pounds), Kwity Paye (265 pounds), Dayo Odeyingbo (285 pounds), and Tyquan Lewis (265 pounds). Lewis is a free agent, but the other three will return. Ebukam, Paye, and Odeyingbo combined for 26 sacks, but as you can see from their listed size, they’re not super big guys. That could help explain why they struggled so much against the run. The Colts defense could benefit from a strong run-stopper next to DeForest Buckner in the middle of their defense to help limit their opposition’s run game.

4. Other Positions of Need: Tight End, Linebacker

 

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