Colts GM Chris Ballard has preached competition since arriving in town earlier this year. Competition is great and makes teams better and while the team has a lot of new faces, nothing fuels competition like contract years for players. Here are the players to watch this season.
This offseason Butler signed a one-year, $3 million contract, with an additional $1.5 million available through incentives. Butler, who has spent the last five seasons with Indianapolis, has been one of the constants in what has been a depleted secondary for the Colts. A few things to keep in mind moving forward, this one year contract that Butler signed made his conversion from CB to safety a done deal. This led to a lot of speculation that Butler could be a leading candidate to start alongside Clayton Geathers deep in Indy’s defensive backfield, however that speculation was quickly shot down with Indianapolis’ first round pick of Malik Hooker, a safety out of Ohio State. Although listed on the official Colts roster as safety, it is a strong possibility that Butler may see some playing time once again as a cornerback. Another thing to keep in mind is Butler’s age. Beginning his 9th season in the league, Butler will be entering the 2017-18 season at the age of 31. It has been no secret that newly hired GM Chris Ballard has been striving to make Indianapolis younger, especially on the defensive side of the ball. This season could determine a lot for Butler, not just his future with Indianapolis, but also any interest from future employers if he and the Colts were to part ways.
Vontae Davis is entering the final year of his four-year contract and is set to bring in $9 million this season. The last time Davis had a contract year, he most certainly did not disappoint, which lead to a hefty payday for the former Miami Dolphin and Fighting Illini. Over the last five years, Davis has become the clear number one cornerback for Indianapolis and has also proved himself as one of the best in that time. The only downfall is Davis has had a history with injuries and at the age of 29 it is hard to see Ballard taking a chance on another long-term contract with him, however it is hard to let a talent like his walk. It will be interesting to see how Indy’s new GM handles Vontae’s possible future in Indianapolis
Gore is entering the final year of his three-year contract signed in 2013. Gore was 31 when he signed with Indianapolis and it was obvious that he was not a long term solution, but Gore gave the Colts more than they could have expected in Gore’s first two years with the team. Last season Gore rushed for 1,000 yards, which is a feat that has not been accomplished by an Indianapolis RB since Joseph Addai did so in 2006. It’s clear that with Gore entering the final year of his contract, the Colts have begun looking towards the future. With second-year RB Josh Ferguson and rookie RB Marlon Mack under Gore’s wing, as well as 27 year-old Robert Turbin, the Colts have laid a nice foundation for a future without Gore taking the majority of handoffs from Luck.
Mewhort is entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2017 where he is set to make $907,337. Mewhort has paired with Left Tackle Anthony Castonzo to form the only sure thing on the offensive line protecting our young franchise QB. Though not perfect, Mewhort has been a solid player on the interior of Indy’s O-Line and a payday is coming for the 25 year-old out of Ohio State, but his play in 2017 will be the deciding factor for GM Chris Ballard.
Donte Moncrief’s first three seasons with Indianapolis has been all over the place. Between battling injuries and playing with back-up QB’s while Luck was on the shelf, Moncrief has found a way to stand out. He’s the total package for a WR. He has the size, the speed and just the overall ability to find the ball. Now entering his final year of his rookie contract, Indianapolis is in a tough spot. They’ve seen how good he can be but they have also seen the inability to stay on the field for a full 16 game season. With a breakout year in 2017 he could really put Indy in a tough spot as they are already paying #1 wide reciever money to star wideout TY Hilton. If the Colts are not careful with how they handle Moncrief’s pending free-agency, it could lead to a waste of one of the few draft picks former GM Ryan Grigson got right.
All other pending free agents in 2018:
-WR Kamar Aiken
-LB Akeem Ayers
-LB John Bostic
-LB Edwin Jackson
-DL T.Y. McGill
-DB Rashaan Melvin
-RB Christine Michael
-LB Barkevious Mingo
-C Brian Schwenke
-LB Sean Spence
-QB Scott Tolzien
-K Adam Vinatieri