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'Locked On Colts' examines potential free agent signings

Which free agent makes the most sense for the Indianapolis Colts this offseason?
Credit: AP
Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard walks on the field before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Zach Bolinger)

INDIANAPOLIS — Locked On Colts host Evan Sidery goes over the best free agent options for the Indianapolis Colts to improve their roster for 2021-22 and beyond. Who makes the most sense for Indy to pursue?

Veteran Cut Options

With the salary cap shrinking around $30 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many teams around the NFL are making tough decisions on talented players. Luckily for the Colts, their flexibility to add players like this is at an all-time high. Indianapolis has $46.7 million in salary cap space, even after the Carson Wentz trade officially goes through next week.

Who are some recently released players who make sense for the Colts to bring aboard? Veterans who are released do not count against the compensatory pick formula. This is a method GM Chris Ballard has used to add crucial pieces over the last two offseasons (Justin Houston and Xavier Rhodes).

One name who makes a lot of sense to fill a similar void, this time on offense if T.Y. Hilton leaves, is veteran receiver John Brown. The former Buffalo Bills wideout can play an identical role to Hilton, but at a cheaper price.

Credit: AP
Buffalo wide receiver John Brown (15) runs with the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

"If T.Y. Hilton cashes out somewhere else, John Brown in Buffalo is a really intriguing option to me. He could kind of be T.Y. Hilton 2.0 at a discount price," Sidery said.

Poach Win-Now Talent From Tennessee?

The Tennessee Titans are one of the teams having to cap their roster potential due to a shrinking salary cap. Tennessee released multiple veteran defenders like safety Kenny Vaccaro and cornerback Malcolm Butler, but they also decided not to use the franchise tag on two key offensive weapons.

Wideout Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith are reaching the open market during the primes of their careers due to Tennessee's lack of flexibility. If Indy was able to add one in free agency, their offensive ceiling would soar.

Credit: AP
Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

"I really do love Jonnu Smith's fit in Indianapolis. Right down the road, a division rival in Tennessee. Stealing him from the Titans would be a very sweet thing to do, if you're in the Colts position, because he fits so well within Frank Reich's offense," Sidery said.

Addressing Pass Rush

Acquiring an elite pass-rusher is the No. 1 need for Indianapolis this offseason. The free agency market for EDGE rushers is one of the deepest we've seen in NFL history. The Colts are primed to take advantage of this with their plentiful amount of salary cap space.

Two names who make the most sense for Indianapolis to pursue are Romeo Okwara and Carl Lawson. Both would have career-best numbers alongside DeForest Buckner, plus they fit the overall age timeline of Indianapolis' defense.

"Carl Lawson next to DeForest Buckner would be so much fun, wouldn't it?" Sidery asked.