When looking at the Indianapolis Colts in 2016, many would remember a terrible defense and Andrew Luck laying on his back most of the time. With free agency starting on Thursday, March 9th, the Colts have a real opportunity to return to super bowl contention. There are many positions that Chris Ballard and Chuck Pagano must address both in free agency and the NFL draft. They have the cap space and with the amount of rookie talent in this years draft, they could do it. There is much debate amongst Colts fans as to who the Colts should take and why, both in free agency and the draft. Here are the free agents the Indianapolis Colts need to target if they want to rapidly improve going into 2017.[NickPoalson]
- Calais Campbell: Defensive End – Campbell is a 30-year-old veteran who showed he still has plenty left in the tank. When looking at the Colts defensive struggles from last season against both the run and pass. Campbell makes perfect sense if Indy wants to add a player that could truly help them win in the trenches. He finished last season with 12 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, and 6 batted balls. His strength, monstrous size, and consistency makes him a must have if the Colts want to “get over the hump” defensively.
- Dontari Poe: Defensive Tackle – Here is another very large individual that could immediately boost the talent level at nose tackle. At 6’3″ and 346 pounds, Poe has elite strength and has fantastic durability. He has only not played in 2 games in his 5 seasons in the league. The former Chief is one of the most athletic big men in the game. He struggles at rushing the passer but is outstanding at plugging holes and wreaking havoc on opposing offenses rushing attack. His size, age, and strength make him a must add to improve the Colts 25th ranked rushing defense from 2016.
- Nick Perry: Outside Linebacker – Perry is coming off the best season of his career finishing with 52 combined tackles and 11 sacks. The 26-year-old has struggled slightly with staying healthy. But, he has toughness, consistent effort, and great size. With the loss of both Walden and Mathis, Indianapolis has to find replacements at edge rusher and Perry is a good place to start.
- Dre Kirkpatrick: Cornerback – This is a player that has everything you would want in a cornerback. Especially when it comes to physical traits. He is a sound tackler and matches up well against larger receivers. He has been somewhat inconsistent over his career but still is a solid player. Kirkpatrick could help give the Colts a legitimate 2nd corner. Which would allow them to move Patrick Robinson to nickel where he flourished in 2015 for the Chargers.
- Zach Brown: Inside Linebacker – After the firing of Rex and Rob Ryan, I’m sure Brown was frustrated. He has to be considering he had the best season of his career in their 3-4 scheme defense. Brown is a player that many felt was snubbed when he wasn’t invited to the pro bowl for this season. He finished with 149 combined tackles (2nd in NFL) and 4 sacks (2nd for ILB’s). This shows how well he fits in a 3-4 scheme. He would be the perfect addition to help drastically improve Indianapolis’ inside linebacker group.
If the Indianapolis Colts can at least sign 3 out of the 5 of these players, they will be a much better overall defense. It’s time Indianapolis starts focusing on defense. Especially when you consider that Andrew Luck is 24 and 1 when his defense holds a team to 21 or fewer points. That is something that is certainly possible when you consider that there were 12 teams with defenses that only allowed 20 or fewer points per game. If the Indianapolis Colts can give Andrew Luck at least a top 15 ranked defense going forward, then they will get back to being a team we will see in the postseason on a yearly basis.