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5 DTs the Colts should target in free agency

Free agency for the interior of the defensive line for the Indianapolis Colts all comes down to what Chris Ballard does with Grover Stewart.

They are set with DeForest Buckner at the three-tech spot for at least one more season but if Stewart isn’t re-signed, there is a glaring hole in that part of the roster.

Even if Stewart is brought back for the 2024 season, Ballard also has to consider depth beyond him because of how far the rush defense fell when Stewart was out of the lineup in the 2023 season because of his six-game suspension.

Here are five defensive tackles that the Colts should target as replacement options for Stewart if he walks and/or quality depth option to have in the rotation behind him:

D.J. Reader

Syndication: The Enquirer
Syndication: The Enquirer

Previous Team: Cincinnati Bengals

The best option to replace Grover Stewart if he isn’t back in 2024 is Reader. The eight-year veteran is one of the best run-stopping defensive tackles in the league. The biggest concern would be his durability—he hasn’t played a full schedule since 2018. In 2023, Reader finished with 34 tackles (20 solo), two TFLs, seven QB hits, a sack, a pass defense, and a fumble recovery in 14 games.

DaQuan Jones

(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Previous Team: Buffalo Bills

Jones has been one of the most consistent and durable defensive tackles in the NFL in his 10-year career. He appeared in at least 16 games for five straight seasons until his 2023 season was cut short due to an injury. In the seven games he played this past year, Jones tallied 16 tackles (eight solo), four TFLs, five QB hits, and 2.5 sacks. Jones does bring some good pass-rush talent to be a viable option in passing situations. 

Teair Tart

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Team: Houston Texans

One player who will be on the market who has shown promise early in his career and will be 27 years old in the upcoming season is Tart. He is a solid run defender who can command double teams and is an effective pass rusher. The concern with Tart is it was reported that there were character issues that led to his surprising in-season release by the Tennessee Titans during the 2023 season. It still didn’t stop the Houston Texans from claiming him off waivers because of what he brings as a player. He’s a viable option to replace Stewart or bring him in as a depth option as he looks to put the character concerns behind him. 

Raekwon Davis

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Team: Miami Dolphins

Another player on the market who will only be 27 years old during the 2024 season and brings starting experience with him is Davis. He’s a massive defensive tackle (6-foot-7, 325 pounds) who utilizes his large wingspan to clog lanes and wrap up defenders for the tackle. Davis also is a quality pass rusher who can help get after the quarterback. This past season he tallied 28 tackles (15 solo), two TFLs, six QB hits, and half-a-sack.  

Shelby Harris

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Team: Cleveland Browns

A quality depth option for Chris Ballard to consider is Harris. He’s no longer a player who can play in a full-time role but he can still provide value in a rotation and could start if Grover Stewart (if he’s re-signed) had to miss any time. Harris can be used in any situation because of his ability to defend the run and get after the quarterback. In 2023 he finished with 28 tackles (17 solo), six TFLs, three QB hits, one-and-a-half sacks, five pass defenses, and a forced fumble. 

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire