After losing to the Denver Broncos 25-13 in week 15, the Indianapolis Colts sit at a record of 3-11 on the season. Although this has been a disappointing season, this season as a whole and especially these upcoming final two games can be viewed as an opportunity for Colts General Manager Chris Ballard to evaluate which players have a future with the team.
At quarterback, Jacoby Brissett has done an adequate job replacing the injured Andrew Luck. Brissett has 15 total touchdowns on the season, and has thrown seven interceptions. If Luck proves that he can be healthy for next season, Chris Ballard might be willing to trade Brissett for a draft pick. But, Ballard might also decide that having an experienced backup quarterback is beneficial, especially considering the uncertainty surrounding Luck’s health in the long term.
At running back, rookie Marlon Mack is the only player on the roster who should be guaranteed a roster spot for next season. As the backup to Frank Gore, he has almost 500 total yards and has 3 touchdowns. Even though Gore has proven that he is still a capable NFL running back, the rebuilding Colts should not bring him back next year because he is 34 years old, and is simply blocking young talent from getting a chance at the position. If Gore wants to continue playing next season, a contender looking for a veteran presence at the running back position should sign him. Running back should be a position Ballard targets in the draft this coming offseason. Although Mack has shown some flashes of brilliance this season, pairing him with another talented young running back could be beneficial to the development of both of them, and to the team.
At wide receiver and tight end, T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle are the only two key players with long term contracts. Donte Moncrief might be retained, but he has regressed since his 2015 season where he had 64 receptions, 733 receiving yards, and 6 touchdowns. Chester Rogers has one more season on his contract, and will likely be kept, although he should not be the second best wide receiver on the roster next year if the Colts want to have a chance at contending in the AFC South. The Colts could look to free agency for an experienced wide receiver to pair with Hilton, and could also look in the later rounds of the draft for a wide receiver to try and develop for the future.
The Colts offensive line has proven in recent years to be one of the worst units in the NFL. Center Ryan Kelly and tackle Anthony Castonzo are the only two lineman who should be guaranteed starting spots for next season. Guard Jack Mewhort has had serious injuries two seasons in a row, which puts his future with the team in question. If the Colts sign him to an extension, he will likely have to compete to be a starter, and prove his durability. Le’Raven Clark, Jeremy Vujnovich, Denzelle Good, and Joe Haeg will also likely compete for roster spots next season in training camp. The offensive line should be one of Ballard’s key focuses in the offseason, and it would be wise for him to select at least one in the early rounds of the draft.