Colts’ 2021 free agency target: DE Carl Lawson

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Kevin Hickey
·3 min read
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The Indianapolis Colts could be spenders in free agency during the 2021 offseason so we will be profiling several potential targets at positions of need.

Among those is the edge rusher position. With Justin Houston, Al-Quadin Muhammad and Denico Autry set to hit free agency, the Colts have a big need to add more talent to the edge. As it currently stands, Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu are the starting defensive ends.

So as free agency gets closer, we will do our best to preview and profile potential targets for the Colts this offseason. With roughly $43 million in projected salary-cap space, the Colts can go after whoever they want.

Other defensive ends we have previewed;

Profile

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Name:Carl LawsonAge: 25 Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 265 pounds Draft Year: 2017 — Round 4 PFF Free Agent Rank: 28th — 3rd DE Career StatsSpider Chart

The Road So Far

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Lawson surprisingly dropped to the fourth round of the 2017 NFL draft where most thought he would be a Day 2 pick at worst. The Cincinnati Bengals jumped at the chance to draft him, selecting him with the No. 116 overall pick. Since then, Lawson has been a fixture in the defensive line for the Bengals and is coming off of a career year in 2020. In 16 games (11 starts), Lawson recorded 5.5 sacks, 32 quarterback hits and four tackles for loss. His 64 pressures were the fourth-most among edge defenders per Pro Football Focus.

Fit With The Colts

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The Colts need to add to the edge rusher room badly this offseason. They can do so during the upcoming draft as well, but they have to walk away from free agency with one of these studs. Lawson is included in that. Though he doesn't quite meet the measurables threshold that Chris Ballard likes in his edge rushers (length being the biggest issue), Lawson has proven he can still disrupt the pocket on a consistent basis. Regardless of athletic thresholds, that's something the Colts sorely need. Lawson would fit perfectly on the edge and could find plenty of success in 1v1 situations thanks to the presence of DeForest Buckner on the interior.

Price

Syndication: Cincinnati

There is a bit of a difference in those projecting the next contract for Lawson. Spotrac's market value model has Lawson projected to sign a four-year deal worth $35.5 million, coming out to $8.8 million annually. Pro Football Focus has Lawson projected to sign a four-year deal worth $55 million, coming out to $13.75 million per season. Either way, the Colts would easily be able to afford the price of Lawson, especially if it falls somewhere in the middle closer to $10 million annually. That kind of deal wouldn't break the bank at all even after the Carson Wentz trade and would give Indy a premier pass rusher on the edge.

Conclusion

Syndication: Cincinnati

The Colts find themselves in a position of need when it comes to edge rusher. Fortunately for them, they have the salary-cap space to make a deal happen to bring in a big-time edge rusher who can make an impact right away. Lawson may not meet some of the physical thresholds that Ballard seemingly likes in his edge rushers but his production profile and consistency is off the charts. If his price falls somewhere in the $10–12 million range, the Colts should be all over that. Lawson is a player the Colts should heavily pursue in free agency given their need at edge rusher, his talent and the projected price of his next contract.

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