With many disappointed with the Colts’ lack of moves this offseason, we look into what they did instead. There are still quite a few talented players available that the Colts’ could look into. Chris Ballard signed four new faces (not counting Tyrell Adams) and resigned four familiar ones. Although the Colts could have done more with their plethora, it is good to see Ballard stick to his mantra of building in April, and signing low risk, high reward deals. Let’s dive into each of the Colts’ signings, and grade each one.
Ryan Grant, WR
Contract: One Year, $5M
After Grant failed his physical with the Ravens, the Colts swooped in, signing him to a moderate one year contract. It is curious that he failed his physical with the Ravens, but passed with every other team that looked into him. Maybe Baltimore realized that the four years, $29M contract they offered him was way overvalued.
Grant is a 6’0″ receiver with good speed and sure hands, similar to T.Y. Hilton. He looks to be a stopgap for the Colts this season until they can find a long-term option. Last year, Grant caught 45 balls for 573 yards and four touchdowns. Grant is absolutely a solid option, but nothing spectacular. Chris Ballard swung and missed—or didn’t even come to the plate—on the likes of Allen Robinson, Sammy Watkins, and Jarvis Landry. This may be for the best. The Colts have been in talks with Bears receiver Cameron Meredith, who would be another young, exciting receiver who happens to be the possession type guy the Colts need. Ballard will likely look for another wide receiver in the NFL draft to compliment Hilton, Grant, and Chester Rogers.
Eric Ebron, TE
Contract: Two Years, $15M
The Detroit Lions drafted Ebron with the 10th pick in the 2014 NFL draft, seeing a potential lethal receiving threat at tight end. The Lions whiffed big time on this pick, passing on the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Aaron Donald. Ryan Shazier, and Taylor Lewan. In his four years in Detroit, Ebron caught 186 passes for 2,070 yards and 11 touchdowns. Last year was mediocre, as he only caught 53 passes for 574 yards and four touchdowns (eerily similar to Grant’s numbers may I add). The Lions were reportedly shopping Ebron during the season, but no suitor came. The Colts signed Ebron to a very reasonable contract.
Colts’ head coach Frank Reich loves his two tight end sets. He excelled with Zach Ertz and Trey Burton in Philly during their Super Bowl run. I highlighted Burton as a tight end that the Colts should consider signing, but the Bears signed him to a four year, $32M deal. I consider that deal quite a bit much for a tight end that did not start on his team and am glad that Ballard Passed. The Colts got Ebron for a cheaper, albeit still pricey contract. The Colts can line up Jack Doyle and Ebron, which could cause headaches for opposing defenses. Hopefully, the Colts can surface the talent that everyone saw in Ebron back in 2014.
Denico Autry, DE
Contract: Three Years, $17.8M, $6.5M GTD
Autry is a low-risk signing at a position of need. Autry, 27, was a great rotational defensive lineman for the Raiders last season. He tallied 23 tackles, five sacks, and seven passes deflected. Autry was graded as one of the top interior defensive linemen last season by PFF. He has the strength to play on the inside, and the speed and quickness to play on the outside. Autry could be an under-the-radar signing that becomes a huge difference maker for the Colts this year, much like Jabaal Sheard and John Simon last season.
Matt Slauson, OG
Contract: One Year, $3M
Don’t get me wrong, guard is a pressing need for the Colts. They resigned Jack Mewhort, and have the likes of Joe Haeg on the roster providing competition. Ballard needed to sign a guard, but Slauson surely shouldn’t have been the one. Slauson, 32, is not young by any means, and a very poor run blocker. Last season, he went on IR with a bicep injury during week 7. Before his injury, PFF ranked him their 52nd guard in the NFL, with a 45 overall grade. Ballard reportedly likes a lot of the guards in this class, including Quenton Nelson. This deal has little-guaranteed money and likely is just to get another body on the roster. Slauson will likely be cut before the season starts, or backup whoever ends up starting at that position.
Overall Grade: C+
Although the Colts did not make any big impact splash signings, they made a few quality ones that will improve the roster next season. Missing out on the likes Andrew Norwell and Allen Robinson hurt, especially given the cap space the Colts have, and the lack of current players on the roster that will demand big contracts in the future. It is yet to be seen if Ballard’s plan will succeed; for that, we wait until draft night.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.