A trip to the playoffs in 2018 has the Indianapolis Colts bright-eyed for the 2019 season.
The Indianapolis Colts were only a year removed from picking inside the 2018 NFL Draft. No one knew that draft would be a special one. The foundation for the 2018-19 Colts season was laid with those stellar selections.
General manager Chris Ballard was able to pick starter-level players with his first four picks. The majority of his eleven picks were contributors on this team. Guard Quenton Nelson proved that an interior offensive lineman could be worth a top-10 pick. Second round linebacker Darius Leonard made the Pro Bowl and is likely the Defensive Rookie of the Year after leading the NFL in tackles. Tackle Braden Smith, also selected in the second round, was another addition in solving a once-porous offensive line.
Ballard did not throw some of the big money the team had around last offseason. Instead, he made shrewd moves in acquiring Eric Ebron who made the Pro Bowl and was a dominant red zone target. He also grabbed some veteran help in ancillary roles to provide this youthful team with a veteran presence. The best move of Ballard’s tenure is giving this team an identity through the draft.
With the strength of this team now on the offensive line and Andrew Luck, Indianapolis can turn to free agency to fill some holes prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. Indianapolis owns the New York Jets second round pick this year, another savvy move from Ballard. The Colts are in a good place salary cap-wise. They are expected to have upwards of $122 million available for this offseason, far and away the most in the NFL.
They are not set to lose any major players via free agency. All their best players are either on rookie deals are locked-in long term. Quarterback Andrew Luck is going to be around for a long time, as is top target T.Y. Hilton. Indianapolis even gets starting tight end Jack Doyle back next year after an injury-plagued 2018.
Here are five players Indianapolis can look to in free agency to help keep them in the playoffs for 2019.