Donte Moncrief looked the part in Indy for his first four years, at least on paper. At 6’2” 220 pounds the third round pick was the top performer in the 40-yard dash (4.40s), vertical jump (39.5”), and broad jump (132”). Moncrief was as smooth as he was explosive, making the generous cushions provided by defensive backs disappear in a blink, and at 6’2” 220, any jump ball wouldn’t be easy for the defender.
The 21-year-old father was ready to make his mark in the league but would have to wait his turn. The Colts under Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson weren’t prepared to give Donte the reins as T.Y. Hilton’s partner in crime right away and spent most of his rookie season behind free agent addition Hakeem Nicks on the depth chart. 2015 looked to be his year, but another free agent addition, Andre Johnson, stood in his way. By the end of the year, Moncrief was able to shine enough to give him the job as the number two wide receiver starting in 2016.
The hype train was at full speed for the third year pro, and he looked poised to light up the league with Andrew Luck healthy again, but it wasn’t meant to be. Moncrief fractured his collarbone in week two against Denver from a more than borderline hit from safety T.J. Ward, sidelining the receiver for weeks. In his return, Moncrief was able to end up with seven touchdown receptions in only nine games, salvaging his image.
As his contract neared its end, Moncrief looked poised to cash in on a lucrative deal if he finally reached his potential in 2017, but once again, the Ole Miss Rebel failed to reach his potential. Without Andrew Luck, Moncrief disappeared for most of the year, only making headlines for his disgruntled responses to media members and questions about his commitment as a competitor. The 2014 draft pick ended the final year of his rookie contract with a 12 game 26 catches 391 yards and two touchdown outing, leaving a sour taste in the Indy faithful, and at the time it didn’t look like Moncrief would be back with the horseshoe in 2018.
A few months later, the Colts have a new coaching staff, that promises speed and aggressiveness on offense and defense, and the door is open for a triumphant return for Moncrief. Many Colts fans and media members are clamoring for the front office to go after big, physical, electric receivers like Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins in free agency. The hope is they could provide everything that Moncrief was expected to do, but why leave Moncrief out? The 24-year-old hasn’t even begun to hit his prime yet and had to deal with a less than stellar coaching staff that couldn’t develop any receiver not named T.Y. Hilton into anything worth noting, so who is to say Moncrief can’t thrive under the new leadership?
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New head coach Frank Reich was integral in the revivals of Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Torrey Smith in Philadelphia, and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni was responsible for the breakout seasons of Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams. This coaching staff track record with wide receivers is miles ahead of anything the last coaching staff had, and Moncrief ceiling is arguably higher than any receiver mentioned in this article. For the right price, it makes sense for the Colts to bring back Moncrief for one last go around, as his talent is undeniable.
Should the Colts rely on Moncrief to be their number two receiver? Probably not, so resigning Moncrief to a short cheap prove it deal and signing another veteran receiver to battle out for the number two spot makes sense. What would that look like? Jason Fitzgerald from OTC projects Moncrief’s next contract to be around 1yr/$3m, which is a bargain considering his talent. If its anything close to this number, the Colts would be wise to jump on that and not letting Moncrief hit the open market. To help this effort, Moncrief looks like he wants to come back to Indy despite his less than stellar 2017, and if Andrew Luck is healthy, he knows he could expect a huge contract come this time next year.
Bringing back Donte may not be the sexiest move for the Colts to make, but look what Alshon Jeffery did in Philly. Jeffery signed a one year prove it deal, then signed below market deal to stay with the Eagles for four more years, and the Colts should follow this blueprint for Moncrief. Imagine a WR group with Hilton, Moncrief, Rogers, and another free agent signing? The Colts may be back to the best offense in football sooner rather than later if this works out.
Projection: 1 year/ $4.5m
Article by: Maxx Hotton
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