PFF predicts Colts spending big in free agency

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Kevin Hickey
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Even after the Carson Wentz trade becomes official, the Indianapolis Colts will still have more salary-cap space than most teams. Because of this, they will be projected to spend big in free agency this offseason.

Though they are unlikely to splurge in free agency, it’s always fun to see some of the more extreme predictions. Pro Football Focus updated their landing spots for their top-50 free agents and in that, the Colts splurge big time for wide receiver Will Fuller, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva and cornerback Chidobe Awuzie

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts — five years, $87.5 million ($25 million guaranteed)

The Will Fuller-to-Green Bay story has been around for many months now, but with Emmanuel Sanders officially a cap casualty, I’d expect the Packers to go the cheaper route with Sanders.

Fuller is a prime candidate to go back to Indiana, where he played in college for the Fighting Irish. He is a genuine speedster who has proven to be one of the most dangerous deep threats at the position when healthy. Over 26% of Fuller’s targets since 2018 have resulted in a 15-plus-yard gain, the eighth-highest percentage among wide receivers over that span. Despite missing significant time in each of those three seasons, Fuller came in at No. 8 in total receiving yards on vertical targets where he had separation on his coverage defender.

Giving Fuller that much money is a massive risk and one the Colts aren’t going to take. Ballard has never handed out a contract like that in free agency and it might not happen this offseason. While Fuller’s talent is immense and his work as a vertical threat would pair nicely with the Colts, it’s highly unlikely they give him the bag due to his extensive injury history.

23. T ALEJANDRO VILLANUEVA

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts — three years, $45 million ($30 million guaranteed)

With the retirement of Anthony Castonzo, the Colts require a new left tackle and could opt to bring in veteran Alejandro Villanueva to man that spot and perhaps mentor a young Day 2 pick from the 2021 NFL Draft. Over the last three years, Villanueva ranks 12th among all left tackles in pass-block grade and has routinely done his job in the ground game with a negatively graded run-block rate that sits in the 82nd percentile at the position.

There is a strong argument that Villanueva is not worth that much money. He’s lost a step as his play has declined in his later years. He might be an adequate stop-gap, but not one worth $15 million per year. The Colts won’t and most likely can’t afford to pay that after they factor in the extensions coming up for players like linebacker Darius Leonard and right tackle Braden Smith.

32. CB CHIDOBE AWUZIE

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts — three years, $27 million ($15.5 million guaranteed)

Awuzie is a pure zone corner by nature, which means he’s not necessarily a fit for new Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. He has ties to Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, as they were both with the Cowboys in Awuzie’s rookie 2017 campaign. Plus, Indianapolis is in the market for a zone corner because 2019 second-rounder Rock Ya-Sin hasn’t shown the requisite growth. They aren’t going to completely abandon Ya-Sin, as he still has some time to right the ship, but starting him would be a risky bet.

Eberflus’ zone coverage usage this past season was the second-highest in the NFL, behind only Brandon Staley’s Los Angeles Rams, at 76.6%. We pegged Awuzie as a great fit for a zone-heavy scheme coming out of college, and his NFL numbers back that up. Since entering the NFL, he ranks 48th of 70 cornerbacks in coverage grade when in single coverage. In zone, he jumps all the way to 19th.

Awuzie is an interesting choice for the Colts. He’s young enough to take a chance on and has flashed in zone coverage throughout his career. He can work both on the boundary and in the slot and could be a solid option for the Colts in free agency.

For what it’s worth, T.Y. Hilton was projected to sign a three-year deal worth $28.5 million with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Related

Report: Denico Autry to generate a lot of interest in free agency

Colts select OT Teven Jenkins in latest Draft Wire mock draft

Report: Colts not involved in trade talks for OT Orlando Brown