The Colts came into 2018 with quarterback Andrew Luck finally healthy, a rebuilt offensive line, and sights set on the postseason. After 15 games, they sit at 9-6 and currently in the sixth spot in the AFC. They finish the season with a must-win game against the Tennessee Titans.
If the Colts are able to defeat the Titans on Sunday night, they will make the playoffs. On the other hand, if they lose, the Colts will be done for the season.
They still have their minds on this season but for next season, there are attractive free agents that could land in Indy and make an immediate impact.
Here are five potential players that the Colts should already be eyeing that will be available in free agency.
5. Greg Robinson, OT
Robinson is a former number two overall pick in 2014. He spent three years with the Rams before landing in Detroit and most recently in Cleveland. The former Auburn Tiger will be a free agent after the season but will not be looking for a big payday.
Luck has missed significant time due to injury because of a shaky offensive line. The Colts strengthened it through the draft when they took guard Quenton Nelson out of Notre Dame. The 22-year-old was thought to be the best offensive lineman in the draft and Indianapolis spent the sixth overall pick on him. He is expected to be a staple of that offensive line for a long time.
Robinson is a player who had a high ceiling but fell off through the years. Being selected second overall is no accident. He is a player with talent, but has not found himself in the right situation yet.
The Colts could place him in a good system next to Nelson and build an offensive line that could keep Luck safe. This is a no risk, high reward situation since Robinson will not be expensive. It would be beneficial for the Colts to at least take a flyer on him.
4. John Brown, WR
The Colts already have a number one receiver in T.Y. Hilton, but could use another playmaker on the outside. Hilton is an elite receiver and they have figured out the tight end position with Eric Ebron. Their air attack is already something special with who they have playing quarterback, but Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers are not reliable second receivers.
Brown is the perfect compliment to Hilton. He spent his first four seasons in Arizona playing behind Larry Fitzgerald and even contributed a 1,000-yard season while there. It was finally time for him to move on and he found himself in Baltimore. Brown has caught 39 passes for 681 yards and five touchdowns this season. He is averaging 17.5 yards per reception.
Brown could provide a deep ball threat in Indy, making them multi-faceted through the air.
3. Dante Fowler Jr., DE
The Colts recently switched to a 4-3 defensive scheme and adding a 4-3 defensive end like Fowler could behoove them. Fowler spent his first two and a half seasons in Jacksonville, but was traded to the Rams to try and bolster up a pass rush for a team looking to win a Super Bowl. He has 16 career sacks and is regarded as a player who can change the tone of a defense and make life difficult for his opponents.
It is unsure the type of contract that Fowler will be looking for, but the Colts are in need of a big time player on defense either on their line or at the linebacker position. After missing his rookie season due to injury, the former Florida Gator returned and has not missed a game since. The Colts have their offensive line problems taken care of for the time being and they will have to shift gears to defense in the upcoming offseason.
2. Jadeveon Clowney, OLB
Clowney will be a free agent after the season, demanding what one can expect to be a lot of money. But for the Colts, if they want to return to the success that they once had, they must go after the best. Despite Clowney being a 3-4 linebacker in Houston, there is no doubt that he is the kind of player who can adapt and change to any defense.
There are injury concerns when it comes to Clowney. He has missed at least one game in every season except for one. He has 17.5 sacks over the last two seasons and will be one of the hottest pass rushers available this offseason. Playing in Houston has given Clowney a chance to play with J.J. Watt. That is an advantage that not a lot of players have. Learning from one of the best is a valuable tool and one that Clowney has taken advantage of since he entered the league.
It is no secret that there will be multiple teams after him, including Houston who will look to re-sign him, but Indy is an attractive destination because of the quarterback and current state of the team.
1. Le’Veon Bell, RB
Bell has been called the best running back in the game for several years. After his actions in 2018, people are scratching their heads in regards to his upcoming free agency. Bell refused to play under the franchise tag and left $14 million on the table. It is obvious that he will not return to Pittsburgh so the question is, which team will take a chance on a player who missed an entire season.
The play of James Conner cannot be ignored either. Do the Steelers have a great system for the running back position? Were Bell’s numbers inflated?
There are no answers to those questions yet so let’s look at the facts. Bell has three seasons over 1,250 yards rushing and is averaging 4.3 yards per carry for his career. In those seasons with exceptional rushing numbers, he also caught 75 or more passes. The Michigan State product has 42 total touchdowns in his career.
Why is this a good fit for Indy? Well, their running game is mediocre. Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines are players who seem to fit better as secondary backs, not lead guys. The thought of Luck and Bell have Colts’ fans salivating, but there are risks.
Bell’s love for the game has been questioned and many are nervous that he will not be as motivated once he receives that lucrative contract that he is after. Either way, Bell is a great talent and the risk might be worth the reward for a Colts team who is looking to take the next step.