The Indianapolis Colts are in seemingly good shape heading into the 2024 offseason. The team is coming off of a productive 9-8 season, they are set at both head coach and at quarterback of the future, and the they have a healthy dose of cap space and draft capital at their disposal.
The next step for this roster is adding the necessary pieces to take the team over the top and into the playoffs. The Colts' offense is in relatively good shape with rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson returning from his injury, star running back Jonathan Taylor locked up long term, and 1,000 yard receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (likely) to be locked up prior to free agency. The explosive core on offense is set.
The final missing piece to that core, aside from simply getting those three on the field together, is another dynamic weapon. I already dove into how the Colts could add a supplemental piece this offseason to round out depth on the roster, but how about a big fish added to the equation? Is there an avenue for the Colts to make a big time move to give their young QB another massive weapon in the passing game?
Today, let's dive into several options and see how likely they could be to end up in Indy this offseason.
Signing/Trading For Mike Williams from the Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers enter this offseason with a complete mess on their hands. They are currently 44 million dollars in the red with their cap space and they have four players (Joey Bosa, Keenan Allen, Khalil Mack, and Mike Williams) around or above the age of 30 due to make 20+ million dollars next season. The team needs to at least soft reset what they are working with to get back in the green.
The most likely cap casualty on the team is wide receiver Mike Williams. Williams is due to have a 32 million dollar cap hit this upcoming season and the Chargers have an out to take in his contract. Maybe a team with a ton of space can flip a conditional pick for him, but it seems likely that Williams will be released prior to free agency.
One destination that makes a ton of sense for the veteran in Indianapolis. Williams, 29, has a relationship with Shane Steichen, as the two overlapped for four seasons at the start of Williams' career. Williams amassed 1,757 yards receiving on 97 receptions in the two years that Steichen was the offensive coordinator in L.A., so Williams could look to sign a one year deal with Indy to get his career back on track with a coach he trusts.
Williams is essentially the upgraded version of Alec Pierce, so adding a dominant jump ball vertical threat on the outside could bode well for Richardson's development in year two.
The Most Realistic Option in the Draft
Mike Williams with the catch of the year!— #ClemsonNFL (@ClemsonPros) January 1, 2023
Drafting Brian Thomas Jr. with pick 15
In an absolutely perfect world, a superstar prospect like Marvin Harrison Jr. or Malik Nabers somehow falls into the Colts' lap at pick 15. Unfortunately we don't live in that type of reality, but the Colts could still get an explosive vertical threat in Brian Thomas Jr. at this prime selection.
Thomas Jr., 21, has been one of the fastest risers in college football this season. After amassing just 720 yards receiving combined in his first two years in college, Thomas Jr. exploded with 68 receptions for 1,177 yards and 17 touchdowns as a true junior. His 17.3 yards per reception was amongst the best in the country for players that saw his amount of targets.
Standing in at 6'5" 200 pounds, Thomas Jr. fits everything Chris Ballard loves in his receivers. He is fast, explosive, and he has the tendency to create big plays. Ballard mentioned in his end of the year press conference that he sees some opportunities this offseason to get more explosive on offense. Drafting Brian Thomas Jr. would be one of those opportunities.
The I Would Sell Everything I Own For This Option
Brian Thomas Jr. is the prototypical deep threat:— James Foster (@NoFlagsFilm) February 6, 2024
- fluidity at the LOS
- creates space vs. press coverage
- field-stretching speed
- catch radius/ball-tracking in the red zone pic.twitter.com/9u5eKvisJa
Trading Brandon Aiyuk from the 49ers
I would like to preface this section by saying that I don't believe the San Francisco 49ers are going to trade Brandon Aiyuk this offseason. He is due a monstrous contract soon and the 49ers will have to get fancy with their cap situation, but I don't believe they will let a talent like this go. That being said, I could have said the same thing about A.J. Brown and Tyreek Hill years ago, so who truly knows with this receiver market?
Regardless, if we want to live in the hypothetical world, acquiring Aiyuk would be an absolute slam dunk move for any team in the league. He is a legit superstar at the position, totaling 1,342 yards and seven touchdowns this past season on an offense with a lot of mouths to feed. He is a premier deep threat that is borderline unstoppable in the vertical game.
The Colts, seemingly, have a good relationship with the 49ers when it comes to trades. Chris Ballard acquired superstar DeForest Buckner from the 49ers for the 13th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The 49ers would go on to use that pick on Javon Kinlaw, effectively replacing a potential market-setting deal with a rookie contract at the same position.
Could the Colts and 49ers do a similar move with Aiyuk this year? Probably not, but it is absolutely worth dreaming about until he signs long term in San Fran.
The Not As Crazy As You May Think Option in the Draft
Brandon Aiyukpic.twitter.com/Ez0N8Dr2XM— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) February 6, 2024
Drafting Brock Bowers with pick 15
On the surface, this option also feels closer to a dream than a reality for Colts' fans. Brock Bowers is the only two-time Mackey Award winner in college football history and he has simply dominated the college football landscape since his freshman season. While on paper it doesn't make any sense for him to fall to pick 15, I don't think it is a crazy assumption to make.
First off, NFL teams have been burnt far too often in selecting tight ends in the top ten of the draft. Even the surefire, can't miss tight end prospect of the century Kyle Pitts has had an up-and-down NFL career up to this point. Factor in that Bowers could potentially come into the Combine much smaller than the typical prototype at the position (he very well could be around 6'2" 230ish pounds), and he just seems like a prime candidate to slide on draft day.
Luckily for the Colts, they are the perfect team to utilize a player like Bowers. They already have a well designed role for an undersized tight end in their offense (Kylen Granson) and Bowers could essentially be the supercharged version of that talent. Bowers' ability in the screen game and what he could do out in space as a flexed out receiver could be special in Steichen's pass offense.
If Brock Bowers is somehow available for the Colts at pick 15, Chris Ballard better run up to the podium to add this dynamic weapon to the offense.
The Bring Him Home Already, Please Chris Ballard Option
Brock Bowers - this is what a top tier TE prospect looks like through first two seasons— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) June 26, 2023
21/30 on contested catch tgts (per PFF)
Only 5 drops on 153 tgts
1,001 yards after catch (440 after contact)
Snaps: 20 backfield , 633 inline, 631 slot, 169 out wide pic.twitter.com/2KrduAt65S
Trading for Terry McLaurin from the Commanders
Okay, okay... I had to add in one more unrealistic scenario to this article. While the Washington Commanders are entering into a rebuild phase and Terry McLaurin is nearly 30 years old with a monster contract, it still doesn't make sense for a team with an abundance of cap space to move off of a premier player. HOWEVER, if there is even the slightest hint of McLaurin wanting out of Washington, Indy has to bring him home.
Terry McLaurin is a fantastic receiver that should have been selected by the Colts back in 2019. McLaurin basically grew up in Lucas Oil stadium but, sadly, he ended up in Washington instead. Since that draft day, McLaurin has been one of the better receivers in football, amassing 5,283 yards receiving in five years in the league.
This is probably the most unlikely option on the entire list but his fit in this offense (and in this city) would simply be perfect.
The Zach's Guy That I Won't Be Talked Out of Loving
Terry McLaurin with the Clutch catch 🔥🔥pic.twitter.com/pgcVRTElPc— Barstool Ohio State (@BarstoolOSU) October 30, 2022
Drafting Xavier Worthy in a trade back/in round 2
I understand that I am much higher on this player than most people, but Xavier Worthy out of Texas would be a homerun addition to the Colts' offense this offseason. He would bring so much juice to the offense and he has that next level speed that most players simply don't have.
Worthy is a player that has dominated the college scene since the second he arrived at Texas. As an 18 year old true freshman in 2021, Worthy put up 981 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns in the Big 12. That isn't normal by any stretch of the imagination. He was producing as a 160 pound freshman in the Big 12 from day one.
On top of that early production, Worthy's speed is simply unmatched. He was GPS timed as the fastest player in college football this past season, hitting a max speed of 22.7 miles per hour in week 12. For comparison, that number would have had him as the fastest ball carrier in the NFL this past season according to Next Gen Stats. His speed isn't just great, it's rare.
I understand the concerns about Worthy's route tree and drop issues in college, but for me, I'm more concerned with what a player can do rather than what they can't. Worthy would bring a rare trait to an offense that simply isn't found anywhere else, and he was productive as can be in a major collegiate conference. That is good enough for me to be able to find a role for him in the NFL.
The Woefully Uninspiring Option That Actually Could Happen
Xavier Worthy is PURE SPEED 💨— SleeperCFB (@SleeperCFB) February 7, 2024
Signing Hunter Henry in Free Agency
After listing six extremely fun options that could lead to beautiful things in the 2024 season, I have to bring it all down to earth with this final option. Hunter Henry wouldn't be the "sexy" option-- or even the dynamic option-- for this offense, but he is one name out there that could make the Colts better in free agency.
Henry is in the later stages of his NFL career, as the 29 year old has certainly lost a step from what he once was. He has remained productive in spite of this though, amassing 419 yards receiving and six touchdowns on the anemic Patriots' offense in 2023. Henry does have a connection with Shane Steichen too, as he played for the Colts' coach in LA from 2016 until 2020.
Henry wouldn't give the Colts anything dynamic in the passing game but he is a reliable redzone target that knows how to sit in space against zone coverage. He would make this team better in 2024, even if the reaction to this potential signing would be mild at best.
This is an insane catch by Hunter Henry. On fourth down too. Wow. pic.twitter.com/DKXVsErmDV— Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) September 10, 2023
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