INDIANAPOLIS — As the Colts prepare for the 2021 season, four key free agents could help determine the success of the season. Locked On Colts host Evan Sidery and 107.5 The Fan's Kevin Bowen took a look at T.Y. Hilton, Xavier Rhodes, Denico Autry, and Justin Houston.
After two down years for Hilton, does it make sense for Indy to keep their star wide receiver?
After Andrew Luck's retirement, Hilton's numbers have fallen off significantly. Hilton was averaging 16.1 yards per reception in his first seven seasons. His YPR dropped to 12.4 with Jacoby Brissett and Philip Rivers as the new starting quarterbacks.
"I feel like to me, personally, I wouldn't go more than a two-year deal for T.Y.," Sidery said.
Bowen believes it's a nearly 50/50 chance he stays.
On Pro Football Focus, Rhodes was ranked as one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL during his last season in Minnesota. During his one year in Indianapolis, his perception completely changed.
Rhodes flourished in defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus' zone-heavy scheme in 2020. His PFF grade jumped from a horrendous 46.4 in 2019 to an above-average mark of 76.3 in 2020.
However, does this mean the price will be too high for the Colts to keep Rhodes around?
"You can't just hand Xavier Rhodes double-digit million dollars on a multi-year deal, especially when Jonathan Gannon (former defensive backs coach) is no longer here and think you're automatically going to get the same Xavier Rhodes you got last year. If that's the case, I think that's something where a mid-level corner, along with re-signing T.J. Carrie, is a route to go," Bowen said.
Autry and Houston
Two key defensive linemen round out the list as Denico Autry and Justin Houston hold similarly questionable futures with the organization. Autry offers inside-out flexibility as a three-down player. In 43 career games with the Indianapolis Colts, Denico Autry has tallied 22.5 sacks. For an interior rusher, those are great numbers.
"Let me start here, Evan, I think he's the best free agent signing by Chris Ballard. I'm taking years and longevity into that equation as well. Versatility on a rebuilt defensive line that was really needed," Bowen said.
Houston seems to have lost some explosiveness off the edge. After piling up 3.5 sacks in the Colts' first four games of 2020, Houston's production nosedived. Over the Colts' final 12 regular season games, Houston notched only 4.5 sacks and 6 quarterback hits. In today's NFL, that production from pass rushers won't get it done.
"I just feel like it's time to move on," Bowen said.
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