The Indianapolis Colts enter the 2020 free agent signing period with about $86 million in cap space.
That is second only to the Miami Dolphins´ $88 million.
Teams With The Most Cap Space
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) March 9, 2020
But Colts fans understand their team is unlikely to make a big splash.
That´s not Chris Ballard´s style.
Indianapolis had over $100 million in available cap space last year.
Ballard came back from the free-agent market with Justin Houston, Devin Funchess, and two of his own defensive backfield players.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) July 24, 2019
But Colts fans and player agents everywhere have something going for them this season.
Ballard is on record as speculating that the Colts might be ready to sign a big star for 2020.
There certainly are some big names available to choose from.
The Colts conservative general manager is not likely to waste money just for the sake of making a splash.
But just in case, here are four high-priced free agents we hope he´ll avoid.
1. Anthony Harris, Safety
Indy´s defensive backfield was not a strong point of the Indianapolis Colts in 2019.
But they weren´t completely awful.
Individuals put up some solid statistics for interceptions and passes defended.
But they still gave up 29 touchdowns through the air and ranked 23rd in passing yards allowed.
The team can use a veteran safety to direct traffic and provide support to the corners.
Anthony Harris comes off a 6-interception season with 11 passes defended.
Pro Football Focus ranked Harris as the top safety for the last two seasons running.
But this is why some folks don´t trust PFF rankings.
Bleacher Report listed each team's top free agent and gave their biggest red flag.
Here's what they found for Minnesota:https://t.co/8CHgg3mbw3
— TheVikingsWire (@TheVikingsWire) March 8, 2020
Harris is a fine safety in Mike Zimmers´defense, the only one he´s known.
It took Harris a few years to find his stride in Minnesota.
Even at his best, Harris lacks some instincts when it comes to helping his corners.
He can lock down the middle of the field, but you don´t find him running to either sideline often enough.
He will be a worthy addition to a team, but arguably not worth his estimated $14 million/year price tag.
Someone like Tre Boston can be signed for much less.
Boston shows better instincts and consistent ball-hawking skills despite playing for three teams in three years.
2. Austin Hooper, tight end
Jack Doyle played 16 games last season for the first time in his career.
He is a 2-time Pro Bowler, but it was Eric Ebron who led the team in touchdown catches two seasons ago.
Ebron looked like a great acquisition, but he will not be back in Indianapolis for 2020.
Mo Allie Cox is the only tight end on the roster with Doyle.
Given Frank Reich´s success with a second pass-catching tight end in 2018, it makes sense to add one this year.
Austin Hooper projects to be the top free-agent tight end.
With 70-plus receptions in his last two seasons, Hooper´s agent seeks a Rob Gronkowski-level contract.
But his client is far from Gronk-like.
Finished 4 games of Austin Hooper, he's a nice player, but man does he lack any dynamic or special trait. I cannot believe I'm about to say this, but give me Jimmy Graham @ 1 year – $8 million over Hooper at 4 years – $40+ million. Just not worth it.
— Andy Herman (@AndyHermanNFL) March 10, 2020
About 75% of Hooper’s receptions came against a zone defense.
He never drew double coverage or special attention.
Fans will be hard-pressed to recall Hooper ripping a pass away from a defender or carrying players downfield.
He averages less than 10-yards per catch over his career despite some long play highlights.
Reich could make Hooper successful in his offense.
But he could do just as well with Jacob Hollister or Tyler Eifert at a fraction of the cost.
3. Robby Anderson, wide receiver
Robby Anderson assured his free agency by telling the Jets he wants to be paid like an elite wide receiver.
Anderson definitely has some skills.
He is super fast down the sideline.
He adjusts to the ball extremely well and is likely to catch anything he gets his hands on.
Depending on what they do with Devin Funchess this offseason, Robby Anderson is my sleeper target for the Colts in free agency.
— Indy SportsOne (@IndySportsOne) February 12, 2020
Anderson managed to grab at least 10 catches of 20-or-more yards every year in New York.
But he still doesn´t have a 1000-yard season under his belt.
That despite being the focal point of the Jets´receiving game.
Indianapolis will add to their receiving corps.
While a speedy deep threat is an attractive option, Anderson is not worth the money for the Colts.
That's major money for an inconsistent player who has never been a true WR1.
— Peter Bukowski (@Peter_Bukowski) February 29, 2020
With Jacoby Brissett or Phillip Rivers at the helm, passes will not fly deep with much regularity.
If Ballard plans to draft Jordan Love, will he play as a rookie?
Adding his future deep threat via this year´s wide receiver-rich draft is a better option.
In the meantime, Demarcus Robinson, Brett Perriman, and even Devin Funchess will command fewer years at less salary than Anderson.
What About the Quarterback?
His $25-30 million asking price is a concern.
— Chris Blystone (@chrisblystone) February 10, 2020
But enough articles are available about that, so we opted to ignore him here.
Signing Jameis Winston for $30 million and five years would be more fun to talk about.
But we´ve not heard any credible rumors connecting him to the Colts yet.
Jim Irsay´s denial about Marlon Mack´s pending extension could have opened the door for speculation, too.
Where is the best fit for RB Melvin Gordon next season?
— GMFB (@gmfb) March 9, 2020
Derrick Henry or Melvin Gordon would look good in Colts blue.
But the team will likely extend Mack.
And Frank Reich will make the most of his backups, too.
Chris Ballard thinks Indianapolis is ready for a big star.
It will be interesting to see what he will pay to bring one to Indianapolis.