When considering an NFL team’s approach to free agency, it’s easy to get caught up in the potential of players gained or lost but what often gets put on the backburner is the effect that free-agent moves have on the other players on the roster.
The Indianapolis Colts normally have a modest approach to free agency but they’ve made some huge splash moves this offseason that have ripple effects on the rest of the roster.
This exercise began as a stock up / down report on certain players but I quickly found that I was having to force myself to pick players on the Colts whose stock was down, so instead we’ll take a look at the players now affected by the Colts’ free agent moves.
After all the changes that have been made to this point, here are several players who have been positively and negatively affected by the other moves.
RB Nyheim Hines
The Colts haven’t made any moves at running back that would affect Hines, but it’s what they did at the quarterback that really changes things for him as they traded for Matt Ryan. Not many players are as greatly affected by their quarterback’s play as Hines.
In 2020 with veteran quarterback Philip Rivers – who is more of a spread-the-wealth distributor – Hines flourished. He put up career highs in carries (89), rushing yards (380), rushing touchdowns (3), receptions (63), receiving yards (482), and receiving touchdowns.
However, in 2021 with a much more volatile quarterback in Carson Wentz, things faltered for Hines. He had the second-fewest offensive snaps (352) and play-time percentage (31.6%) of his career and also had the second-fewest carries (56) and rushing yards (276), and the fewest receptions (40) and targets (57).
Ryan is more similar to Rivers in his ability to distribute the ball and utilize talented, pass-catching running backs like Hines. For example, last year with Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, running backs Cordarrelle Patterson and Mike Davis both had over 135 carries and 40 catches.
WR Dezmon Patmon, Mike Strachan
Ryan’s arrival should have a positive impact on every pass-catcher on the Colts’ roster, even the raw ones who don’t have extensive experience.
That is especially true for Patmon and Strachan, a couple of highly athletic, big-bodied receivers who the Colts have taken time to develop. Ryan has shown throughout his career that he trusts these types of receivers and will give them ample opportunities to win contested catches. If Ryan takes a liking to these two this offseason and in training camp, it arrows up for them.
However, Ryan isn’t the biggest reason that Patmon and Strachan’s stock is up. It’s because the Colts haven’t made any acquisitions at the receiver this offseason. In fact, starter Zach Pascal left in the free agency, and TY Hilton remains on the market. With this being the case, it boosts Patmon and Strachan up the depth chart. This is also the case for Ashton Dulin, who was offered a restricted free agent tender but has not yet signed it.
There’s still a lot that the Colts can do in the draft at the receiver, but the players that get drafted are projections; they’re not guys with proven NFL track records like NFL veteran free agents.
With the Colts having not brought in any new receivers, Patmon and Strachan could take the next step in their development and earn some valuable playing time.
TE Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson
Similar to the receiver, the tight end could use a little more reliability before the season starts. Longtime starter Jack Doyle retired this offseason and the Colts haven’t added any starting-level tight ends, although they did re-sign Alie-Cox. Both Alie-Cox and Granson are highly talented and slated to earn more snaps than they’ve seen before.
The potential issue – which may not wind up being an issue at all – is that neither player has been relied upon before in the fashion that they would be if the season started this week. Alie-Cox has had periods in his career where he’s been TE1 while Doyle has been hurt but never throughout the season, and Granson had a very limited role as a rookie in 2021.
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Because of that, the Colts could use either a veteran tight end who is capable of starting in a pinch or a talented rookie from the draft who can get early snaps.
OT Matt Pryor
Left tackle is a cornerstone position on a football roster, and following the retirement of Anthony Castonzo after 2020 and the free-agent flop of Eric Fisher in 2021, there is a lot of scrutiny on how the Colts handle their next move at left tackle.
The Colts electing not to sign another for-sure starter at the position puts a lot of faith in Pryor. Him currently being “the guy” raises some eyebrows. He was a mostly reliable backup along the offensive line in 2021, enough so that the Colts re-signed him to get the first shot at being their left tackle in 2022. That’s fine as long as there are other options to push Pryor.
He appeared in all 17 games for the Colts in 2021, starting five of them. He saw action at right tackle (266 snaps), left tackle (94), right guard (69), and big tight end (9). He has started 15-of-44 career contests, seeing 602 snaps at right guard, 520 at right tackle, 172 at left tackle, 47 at left guard, and 13 at big tight end.
According to Pro Football Focus, in 2021 Pryor earned a career-high 76.5 grade, including a mark of 75.2 in pass protection and a 74.8 in the run game. His overall grade ranked 24th among all NFL offensive tackles. Out of 241 pass-blocking snaps, Pryor allowed just 8 total pressures on the quarterback (6 hurries, 2 hits), including 0 sacks. His pass-block efficiency rating of 98.1 was tied for the fifth-best mark in the NFL among tackles.
IOL Danny Pinter
Pinter’s name may not yet carry a lot of weight but he’s been a stud backup lineman for the Colts for two years now and is now slated to earn a starting spot at right guard.
He earned a PFF grade of 66.9 in 103 snaps as a rookie in 2020 and then up to 74.7 in 226 snaps in 2021.
The Colts had two solid options at right guard who had both started for them but were free agents in Mark Glowinski and Chris Reed. However, Glowinski signed with the New York Giants and Reed remains on the market. If the Colts felt a dire need at the right guard, they’d re-signed one of the two or someone else to start. Instead, it appears to be Pinter’s job to lose.
DL Dayo Odeyingbo
This isn’t necessarily a positive or negative submission, but the road to a starting spot certainly isn’t any easier for Odeyingbo after the moves the Colts have made this offseason.
Initially, the thought was that Kwity Paye would be the Colts’ starting LEO in the new coordinator Gus Bradley’s system and that Odeyingbo could potentially earn the opposite big end spot. However, the Colts traded for Yannick Ngakoue, who now almost certainly becomes the LEO and moves Paye to the big end. However, since the Colts did not re-sign Taylor Stallworth, these moves help open Odeyingbo up for more contributions both at defensive end and tackle.
CB Isaiah Rodgers, Marvell Tell III
The Colts have a pair of young cornerbacks whose roles were threatened by other free-agent moves, but those moves coupled with some coaching additions may actually help these young players in the long run.
Rodgers was in line to a starting outside cornerback in 2022 before the Colts signed Stephon Gilmore and Brandon Facyson. Rodgers could still up-end Facyson but Gilmore is all but guaranteed a starting spot. Likewise, the Colts re-signed promising young corner Tell this offseason but his depth spot will be in tough competition against Tony Brown, Anthony Chesley, etc.
However, although both players now have a tougher battle to carve out their role, the Colts adding veterans like Gilmore and safety Rodney McLeod as well as coaches Ron Milus and Mike Mitchell could prove invalid for the development of talented, young, athletic guys like Rodgers and Tell.
What do you think of the Colts roster currently? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!
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