2020 NFL Offseason: Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts (Last Year: 7-9)

2020 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Philip Rivers, TE Trey Burton, DT DeForest Buckner, DT Sheldon Day, CB Xavier Rhodes, CB T.J. Carrie.
Early Draft Picks:
WR Michael Pittman, RB Jonathan Taylor, CB/S Julian Blackmon, QB Jacob Eason, G Danny Pinter. Colts Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Brian Hoyer, RB Jonathan Williams, WR Devin Funchess, TE Eric Ebron, OT/G Joe Haeg, DE Jabaal Sheard, CB Pierre Desir, S Clayton Geathers, K Adam Vinatieri.

2020 Indianapolis Colts Offense:
The Colts were projected to win the Super Bowl in this space last year. That, of course, was a prediction that was made prior to Andrew Luck's surprise retirement. Everything changed after that, as the Colts were still competitive, but not enough so to reach the playoffs with Jacoby Brissett under center.

The primary objective for Indianapolis' front office this offseason was finding a veteran quarterback to serve as an upgrade over Brissett. Tom Brady may have been the preferred choice, but Philip Rivers was a nice consolation prize. Rivers had an underwhelming 2019 campaign, leading some to believe that he is done. That could be the case, but the status of his offensive line while with the Chargers must be considered. The Chargers had miserable blocking last year, but Rivers won't have to deal with that issue moving forward.

The Colts, after all, have one of the top offensive lines in the NFL. There was some chatter about left tackle Anthony Castonzo retiring, but he'll be back for at least another year. That's great news for Indianapolis, given how good of a blocker he is. The left side of the line is excellent overall, as Quenton Nelson is an elite guard, while center Ryan Kelly is a tremendous center.

The right side of the offensive line is only weaker by default. Right tackle Braden Smith isn't as good as Castonzo, but he's a solid player. The same can be said of right guard Mark Glowinski.

Rivers will have a nice play-making supporting cast as well. T.Y. Hilton is an excellent receiver, though he has trouble staying healthy. This has been a big issue in the past, as Indianapolis' offense capsized when Hilton happened to be out of the lineup. Aside from upgrading quarterback, the Colts had to obtain another talented receiver to go along with Hilton and second-year Parris Campbell, who didn't get to do much as a rookie because of health concerns. The Colts, as a consequence, spent their initial second-round choice on USC receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who figures to be a big upgrade across from Hilton. Tight end Jack Doyle, meanwhile, will continue to be a reliable target.

The Colts used their other second-round pick on running back Jonathan Taylor. This was a bit of a surprise because Marlon Mack is a solid running back, but Taylor is a tremendous talent who could take the majority of the workload late in the year.

2020 Indianapolis Colts Defense:
The Colts owned the 13th-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but decided that there was no prospect they could have obtained who would be as good as DeForest Buckner. They were certainly correct, as Buckner is one of the elite defensive tackles in the NFL. Buckner is just 26, so he's not in danger of regression. The one downside to acquiring Buckner for the 13th pick is the salary Indianapolis will have to pay Buckner in favor of a rookie, but considering how much salary cap space the team had, that negative aspect is not much of a factor.

With Buckner joining the roster, it appears as though Indianapolis has the makings of a tremendous defensive line. Denico Autry, who is a decent pass rusher, will start next to Buckner. The two edge rushers, meanwhile, will be Justin Houston and Kemoko Turay. Houston had a terrific first season with Indianapolis, while Turay showed lots of promise in his second year, albeit in a small sample size. Turay broke his ankle in Week 5, but if he stays healthy, he could have a huge 2020 campaign.

An impoved pass rush can only help the secondary, which is imperative for Indianapolis' chances of reaching the Super Bowl. The Colts' defensive backfield - particularly the cornerbacks - happens to be the worst aspect of their defense. There is some hope, however. Indianapolis signed Xavier Rhodes this offseason, which is the source of the upside. Rhodes was abysmal last year, but he appeared to be injured. There's a chance he could return to prominence in 2020. T.J. Carrie and Marvell Tell are the other outside corners, and both struggled last year. Tell was a fifth-round choice in 2019, so he might improve in his second year. Nickel corner Kenny Moore will at least be solid when covering the slot.

The Colts are better at safety, and not just by default. Malik Hooker is a fantastic, young player, whose absence is felt whenever he's injured. Health has been Hooker's weakness, as he has yet to play a full season. Khari Willis, a fourth-round pick from 2019, played well as a rookie.

Rounding out the defense, the Colts have one of the better linebackers in the NFL, Darius Leonard. It didn't seem as though the Colts had a viable option to go along with Leonard, but rookie Bobby Okereke performed very well last year as a two-down player. It'll be interesting to see if he's on the field for more snaps in his second season, given that fellow linebacker Anthony Walker was underwhelming.

2020 Indianapolis Colts Schedule and Intangibles:
Adam Vinatieri is no longer kicking for the Colts because he struggled last year with an injury. They signed Rodrigo Blankenship following the 2020 NFL Draft to be a replacement.

Punter Pat McAfee retired to become a sports blogger. The Colts replaced him with Rigoberto Sanchez, who finished fourth and third in net average in 2017 and 2018, respectively. He dipped to 16th in 2019.

The Colts were mixed in returns last year. They outgained their opponents on punts by a large margin and scored two touchdowns in the process, but lost in that regard on kickoffs.

Indianapolis has an easy start to its season, battling the Jaguars, Jets (home), Bears, Bengals and Lions in five of its first seven games.

2020 Indianapolis Colts Rookies:
Go here for the Colts Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2020 Indianapolis Colts Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2020 Indianapolis Colts Analysis: The Colts are among the top teams in the NFL. Their offensive line is one of the league's best, and they have a strong running game and talented receivers. Their defense, which was already solid, added an elite defensive tackle to the unit. Frank Reich, meanwhile, is an excellent coach. The one question mark is Philip Rivers. There's a chance he continues to regress like he did last year, but it's more likely that he'll perform better because he'll have a much stonger supporting cast surrounding him.

Projection: 13-3 (1st in AFC South)

2019 Projection: 7-9. 2019 Actual Result: 7-9.
2018 Projection: 6-10. 2018 Actual Result: 10-6.
2017 Projection: 6-10. 2017 Actual Result: 4-12.
2016 Projection: 12-4. 2016 Actual Result: 8-8.


NFL Draft Team Grade: B Grade

Goals Entering the 2020 NFL Draft: The Colts traded the 13th-overall pick for DeForest Buckner, which was a great deal for them. Because they've addressed the defensive line, they can now look to helping Philip Rivers by giving him a new weapon or two. The secondary must be upgraded as well.

2020 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I don't know whether or not to make this grade with the DeForest Buckner deal in mind because this haul looks much different with Buckner. Because I've already graded the Buckner trade elsewhere, I'll leave him out of consideration. Things would get too tricky like having to grade the Bears with taking Khalil Mack halfway into account because he counted for two first-round picks.

Even without Buckner, the Colts did a fine job of assembling some talent. Michael Pittman went a bit too early for my taste at No. 34, but he's a solid prospect and should be able to take over as the No. 2 receiver at some point. Jonathan Taylor, conversely, was a steal later in the second round. The Colts made a smart move by leaping Jacksonville to get him. The rival Jaguars may have been interested because they need to replace Leonard Fournette, of course.

Besides Taylor, only one Indianapolis pick earned more than a B+, and that would be guard Danny Pinter in the fifth round. Otherwise, the Colts scored mostly in the "B" range. That's the grade I'll give them, as they were able to accomplish their goal of surrounding Rivers with more weapons.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

34. Michael Pittman, WR, USC - B- Grade
The Colts wanted Tee Higgins, so they're lucky the Bengals made a bad pick. This is a better one. Michael Pittman has tons of upside, and I think he could start across from T.Y. Hilton as a rookie. However, I think the Colts should've tried to trade down with so many receivers available. The value with Pittman is lacking at No. 34.

41. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin - A+ Grade
The Colts surrendered a fifth-round pick to move up three spots, and they selected Jonathan Taylor as a result. The reason for moving up is easy to understand. They had to leap the Jaguars, who are looking to trade Leonard Fournette, in order to secure Taylor. Running back wasn't a huge need, but Marlon Mack is just an above-average talent. Taylor is a huge upgrade, and he gives Indianapolis so much more upside.

85. Julian Blackmon, CB/S, Utah - D Grade
It'll be interesting to see where the Colts play Julian Blackmon, assuming he can play at all. Blackmon is coming off a torn ACL and may not be 100 percent in 2020. That's bad news, given that Indianapolis is all in to win this year with Philip Rivers. This pick doesn't make much sense, and it happens to be a reach. The good news is that the Colts traded down 10 spots.

122. Jacob Eason, QB, Washington - B Grade
I wasn't going to be a fan of Jacob Eason in the second round. The upside is there, but he has attitude and work ethic issues, which is just horrible for a quarterback to have. However, the fourth round makes much more sense for Eason. I wouldn't count out Frank Reich developing Eason into a good NFL quarterback - as long as Eason wants it.

149. Danny Pinter, G, Ball State - A Grade
The Colts have a great offensive line, and they just added to it in the fifth round. Danny Pinter generated some buzz right before the draft. He's an athletic player who could become a starter at some point.

193. Robert Windsor, DT, Penn State - B+ Grade
We'll see if Robert Windsor can become an every-down player, but he should be an effective pass rusher on passing downs. He has some nice potential, so this is a solid selection.

211. Isaiah Rodgers, CB, UMass - B- Grade
The Colts needed cornerback help, and Isaiah Rodgers fits the range as a decent slot corner. This is a semi-decent pick.

212. Dezmon Patmon, WR, Washington State - B- Grade
Dezmon Patmon is an athletic freak, but never lived up to his potential at Washington State. Perhaps Patmon will improve if he's coached up very well, but we'll see if his heart is in the game. I'm fine with taking a shot on someone like Patmon at this juncture.

213. Jordan Glasgow, LB/S, Michigan - C+ Grade
Jordan Glasgow has no home on defense, as he's a tweener. However, he was dynamic on special teams at Michigan, which is why the Colts chose him at the end of the sixth round. I'm OK with taking special teams-only players this late. It's not exciting, but Glasgow can contribute on fourth down.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.


Season Summary:
The Colts were one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl before Andrew Luck unceremoniously retired. Indianapolis still was in the playoff mix for a while, but things quickly fell apart late in the year.

Offseason Moves:
  • Colts sign TE Trey Burton
  • Colts sign CB T.J. Carrie
  • Colts sign CB Xavier Rhodes
  • Colts sign DT Sheldon Day
  • Colts cut QB Brian Hoyer
  • Colts cut CB Pierre Desir
  • Colts sign QB Philip Rivers
  • Colts acquire DE/DT DeForest Buckner from 49ers

    Team Needs:
    1. Quarterback: Jacoby Brissett is a nice quarterback, but he's not a long-term solution. Indianapolis needs to find a new quarterback for the long haul. Signed Philip Rivers

    2. Wide Receiver: The Colts have needed a viable No. 2 receiver for quite some time. Luckily for them, this draft class is loaded at the position.

    3. Cornerback: Moving to the defense, the Colts had major problems at cornerback this past season. Aside from Kenny Moore, no Indianapolis corner performed well, so this is a major area of need. Signed Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie

    4. Defensive Tackle: Indianapolis doesn't have a dominant pass-rushing presence in the interior of its defensive line. Traded for DeForest Buckner; signed Sheldon Day

    5. Left Tackle: Anthony Castonzo is an impending free agent, and he has discussed the possibility of retirement. Re-signed Anthony Castonzo

    6. Safety: One of Indianapolis' starting safeties, Clayton Geathers, is an impending free agent.

    7. Kicker: Adam Vinatieri was woefully inaccurate last season. That may have been because of a knee injury, but the 47-year-old Vinatieri may have to be replaced.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2020 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers. Age: 38.
      Signed with Colts (1 year, $25 million)

      Many say Philip Rivers is done after throwing 20 interceptions in 2019, but that's a silly and incorrect stance. Rivers actually did well - 66-percent completions, 7.8 YPA - despite playing behind an offensive line missing three starters for most of the year. Rivers is nearing retirement, but he can still lead a good team to the playoffs for the next year or two.

    2. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Vikings. Age: 30.
      Signed with Colts (1 year)

      Xavier Rhodes was one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL several years ago, but things changed drastically in 2019. Rhodes was burned to a crisp by receivers on a weekly basis, as he quickly became of the worst starting corners in the league. Rhodes was only 29, so it's possible that he was dealing with some sort of undisclosed injury. He could be a nice, buy-low option this offseason.

    3. Trey Burton, TE, Bears. Age: 28.
      Signed with Colts (1 year)

      Trey Burton had loads of potential with the Eagles, but never lived up to it with his second team. Burton was a huge disappointment, and he also had some hip issues. He's still young enough, however, to bounce back if he can get healthy.

    4. Sheldon Day, DT, 49ers. Age: 26. -- Signed with Colts
    5. T.J. Carrie, CB, Browns. Age: 30. -- Signed with Colts (1 year)

    Indianapolis Colts Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Anthony Castonzo, OT, Colts. Age: 32.
      Re-signed with Colts (2 years, $33 million)

      Anthony Castonzo is one of the better left tackles in the NFL, but he turns 32 in August, so regression could come soon. Castonzo also has discussed potentially retiring, so that's a concern.

    2. Clayton Geathers, S, Colts. Age: 28.
      Clayton Geathers is a solid run defender, but can be beaten in coverage. Still, he's a fine starting safety.

    3. Jabaal Sheard, DE, Colts. Age: 31.
      Jabaal Sheard is coming off a down year, logging just 4.5 sacks. Perhaps it's his age, as Sheard will turn 31 in May.

    4. Eric Ebron, TE, Colts. Age: 27.
      Signed with Steelers (2 years, $12 million)

      Eric Ebron is one of the most frustrating players in the NFL. He's very athletic and talented, but he constantly drops passes, runs bad routes and quits on his team.

    5. Jonathan Williams, RB, Colts. Age: 26.
      Jonathan Williams flashed his potential when Marlon Mack was injured this past season. He's a decent runner who happens to be one of the best reserve backs in the NFL.

    6. Devin Funchess, WR, Colts. Age: 26.
      Signed with Packers (1 year, $2.5 million)

      Devin Funchess signed a 1-year "prove it" deal, but barely played for the Colts because of injuries. He's still young and talented enough to thrive if he gets healthy.

    7. Pierre Desir, CB, Colts. Age: 29.
      Signed with Jets (1 year)

      Pierre Desir played very well in 2018, but struggled last year. He might be able to bounce back, but he turns 30 in September.

    8. Adam Vinatieri, K, Colts. Age: 47.
      Adam Vinatieri is coming off his worst season as a pro, but he needed knee surgery, so that injury may have affected his accuracy.

    9. Joe Haeg, OT, Colts. Age: 27. -- Signed with Buccaneers (1 year, $2.3 million)
    10. Marcus Johnson (RFA), WR, Colts. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Colts
    11. Margus Hunt, DE, Colts. Age: 33.
    12. Le'Raven Clark, OT, Colts. Age: 27. -- Re-signed with Colts
    13. Chester Rogers, WR, Colts. Age: 26.
    14. Briean Boddy-Calhoun, CB, Colts. Age: 27.
    15. Josh Andrews, C/G, Colts. Age: 29.
    16. Brian Hoyer, QB, Colts. Age: 34. -- Signed with Patriots
    17. Trevon Coley (RFA), DT, Colts. Age: 26.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

    NFL Picks - Nov. 25

    2021 NFL Mock Draft - Nov. 25

    2022 NFL Mock Draft - Nov. 15

    NFL Power Rankings - Nov. 14

    Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 9

    2020 College Football Recruiting Rankings - April 14

    2020 NBA Mock Draft - Sept. 27



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