The Indianapolis Colts have tough decisions to make with their free agents this offseason
The Indianapolis Colts’ 2023 season ended after a tough loss to the Houston Texans in Week 18. This matchup kept them from winning the AFC South and getting a home playoff game.
With their 2024 offseason underway, several in-house free agents need to be addressed and kept for the future.
Names like defensive tackle Grover Stewart, cornerback Kenny Moore II, and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. are top priorities to retain. However, to keep those players in a Colts uniform, that means that others can’t be paid.
Here are three notable names that Indianapolis may pass on re-signing.
Taven Bryan | Defensive Tackle
Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Taven Bryan (96) and teammates try to stop Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) during first quarter action. The Jacksonville Jaguars hosted the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, FL Sunday, October 15, 2023. The Jaguars ended the first half with a 21 to 6 lead. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]
© Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK
The former Jacksonville Jaguars 2018 first-round draft pick signed a one-year, $3.51 million deal in the 2023 offseason with Indy, per Spotrac.
Taven Bryan’s addition to the roster was for depth. While he started well with 2.0 sacks in his first three games, things soon went south. He didn’t get another sack for the remainder of the season, even while filling in for Stewart during a six-game suspension.
Bryan was also wrecked in the ground game, posting a Pro Football Focus grade of 43.7 against opposing rushing attacks.
Bryan is a pass-rushing specialist and was underwhelming in that regard, applying only 11 pressures on quarterbacks.
Expect Indy to let Bryan walk in free agency and pick up a more complete depth piece for the interior defensive line.
Zack Moss | Running Back
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Zack Moss | Running Back
Sep 24, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Zack Moss (21) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
© Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Running back Zack Moss overshot all expectations in his second year with the Colts.
While franchise runner Jonathan Taylor rehabbed his ankle injury during the early stages of 2023, Moss went on a tear.
In the first five weeks of Indy’s campaign, Moss ran for 445 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. He also complemented the passing attack with 8 catches for 72 yards and another touchdown.
For Moss’ first four games, he averaged a fantastic 111.3 rushing yards per game and was among the top backs in the NFL.
Moss finished 2023 leading the Colts in rushing yards (794) and contributed even when Taylor returned, albeit less than when he started.
It would be great for Indy to retain Moss to pair with Taylor as quarterback Anthony Richardson develops. However, Moss likely outplayed what the Colts are willing to pay him and may be able to start elsewhere.
With Evan Hull and Trey Sermon still on the roster, the Colts will probably not be within Moss’ price range after a career season.
Gardner Minshew | Quarterback
When the Colts signed former Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, it made sense with his experience in Shane Steichen’s offense over the past two seasons.
The expectation was for Minshew to help rookie passer Richardson with acclimating to Steichen’s scheme. However, after Richardson struggled with injuries and was ultimately ruled out for the year with an AC joint sprain, Minshew took over as the full-time starter.
Minshew had ups and downs but played well considering the circumstances and his backup designation.
Minshew finished his fifth season with 305-of-490 completions (62.2 %), 3,305 passing yards (career-high), and 15 touchdown passes to 9 interceptions. He also added 3 rushing touchdowns, totaling 18 scores in the 2023 season.
While Minshew is perfect for Richardson’s development, he’s also considered one of the best backups in the NFL. The one-year, $3.5 million deal he signed in the 2023 offseason is cheap by quarterback standards, even for backup money.
Minshew led the Colts for nearly the entire season and finished at 9-8. The squad also was a throw away from potentially winning the division and earning a playoff berth.
Factor in that now Minshew is a Pro Bowl quarterback, and his worth will be more than what he signed for with the Colts.
Spotrac has an estimated market value of $5.3 million annually. The amount displayed is likely aiming low. Minshew’s success as a backup and Pro Bowl nomination could earn him $7-8 million per year.