The FPC Colts team has produced multiple articles discussing who the Colts will sign in free agency, but with the recent reports of Josh McDaniels becoming the new coach in Indianapolis, he and his staff will likely influence who General Manager Chris Ballard will target in free agency. Let’s take a look at who the Colts could look at and a probable offer to said player.
Anthony Hitchens (25) LB Dallas
Hitchens is the strong side linebacker for new Colts’ defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is in Dallas for the past four years and posted a career year in 2017. The fourth-year pro was the 21st ranked linebacker in the NFL per PFF in 2017 at an 80.08 rating. For reference, the highest rated Colts linebackers in 2017 were Jon Bostic at 39th and Antonio Morrison at 84th. Hitchens specializes in run stopping but is an above average defender in pass coverage as well, which will suit the Colts nicely. Hitchens has spoken very highly of Eberflus in the past, and his experience in Eberflus’ system will help the transition go more smoothly, and it won’t be surprising if Ballard offers Hitchens a significant contract to rejoin his position coach in Indy.
Projection: 4 yrs/$22m
Nigel Bradham (28) LB Philadelphia
Another linebacker to help fill out the new 4-3 alignment, Bradham is an ace in coverage posting the third highest pass coverage rating according to PFF, 17th overall. The former Florida State Seminole fits the mold of the modern, lighter, faster pass covering linebacker, which would be a massive boon for the Colts defense that has routinely struggled with since Jerrell Freeman left. His issues in run stopping and dire situation of the Eagles salary cap space will likely lead him to find greener pasture; Ballard should do his best to stock the new 4-3 with as much talent as possible.
Projection: 3 yrs/$18m
Dion Lewis (27) RB New England
Another player with ties to the new coaching staff, Lewis has had his best years under McDaniels, culminating in a career-high 89.1 PFF ranking good for the NFL third highest running back in 2017. Lewis has had issues staying healthy, but played in all 16 games in 2018, which bodes well for his future contract value. What is ironic about his potential departure to Indy was the back was already a member of the Colts in 2014, for one week. However, it is likely he would be very open to following McDaniels to Lucas Oil stadium to join forces with Marlon Mack to create a two-headed monster that could give the Andrew Luck the best backfield he’s had in his career.
Projection: 3 yrs/$16m
Danny Amendola (32) WR New England
Danny Amendola may not be the sexiest pickup in free agency, but he does bring the Colts a few essential skills. First, he can play slot receiver in McDaniels’ system, which is crucial. McDaniels loves slot receivers and will likely employ various receivers at the position, such as T.Y. Hilton, Chester Rogers, and free agent additions such as Amendola.
Next, the former Ram brings familiarity of the verbiage used in McDaniels’ Erhardt-Perkins scheme, which will be very helpful in the transition for Luck and the offense. Lastly, he brings a veteran presence to the offense, which the Colts have lacked since Reggie Wayne retired. Hilton has done an admirable job filling in that role, but it can’t hurt to add another veteran voice in that locker room that will help convey McDaniels message. Amendola’s spotty health history and age will drive down his asking price and commitment, making him more likely to come to Indy with McDaniels.
Projection 2 yrs/$10m
Allen Robinson (25) WR Jacksonville
A popular choice for Colts’ fans and media alike, Robinson offers a tantalizing future for Indy. Finally, a big physical receiver who can win over the middle as well as 50/50 balls down the field. Robinson isn’t just a big receiver, but he has excellent route running ability and the ability to play in the slot, which again is very important. Robinson is coming off a lost year due to injury, but his talent is undeniable, and with Jacksonville’s tight salary situation he will likely hit the market. This is where it becomes tricky: does team offer a significant enough long-term deal that Robinson will agree to, or will a short-term prove it deal to be more likely?
Ballard has shown interest in a big physical receiver already in his reported interest in offering a medium length deal to Alshon Jeffery this past offseason, and McDaniels knows the impact a big bodied receiver can have on his offense (Randy Moss, Rob Gronkowski, ). These trends will likely cause Ballard and the Colts to target the former the Nittany Lion to a surprisingly substantial deal.
Projection: 4 yrs/$52m
There are a few more names that will likely be targeted by the Colts in free agency, such as Carolina Panthers guard Andrew Norwell, but this list was made in regards to what the new coaches system will likely ask for as the put their stamp on the franchise.
Article by: Maxx Hotton
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