Last December, the Indianapolis Colts had to resort to free agency to find a viable wide receiver.
Injuries decimated the position as the season wore on.
A wider receiver competition that was the talk of the 2019 preseason was a distant memory.
In 2020, Chester Rodgers and Devin Funchess enter the new NFL year as free agents.
Deon Cain and Krishawn Hogan play for the Steelers and Saints respectively.
Indianapolis´ December signing, Dontrelle Inman, is a free agent, too.
TY Hilton, Zach Pascal, and Marcus Johnson finished 2019 on the Colts active roster.
Parris Campbell returns after multiple injuries (hamstring, groin, hand, and foot) disrupted his rookie season.
And now the Colts assured that Daurice Fountain will join the 2020 competition.
— Indy SportsOne (@IndySportsOne) March 16, 2020
Daurice Fountain drew rave reviews from offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni before last year.
After an unremarkable rookie season, Fountain showed tremendous growth in 2019.
He was an early favorite to make the opening day roster as the fourth or fifth wideout.
Fountain came off the practice squad for 4 regular-season contests and 2 playoff games in 2018.
He did not record a reception in any of those games.
Fountain showed flashes of brilliance in practice but was too inconsistent to rely on.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) August 1, 2019
He set to work on correcting that impression right away.
Sirianni spoke about Fountain´s size, improved physicality, and quickness.
But the thing he cited first was consistency.
“Really what I’m really impressed with (Fountain) is that he’s starting to show more consistency,” Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said.
Before he continued,
“He’s got that body that you want from a receiver. He’s big, strong and physical. Now he’s starting to get a little quicker.”
Crashing to a Halt
Fountain says he was especially hard on himself as he reflected on his rookie performance.
— Full Press Coverage (@FPCoverage) July 9, 2018
Sirianni´s comments showed the receiver´s efforts to improve paid off.
Fountain told reporters he felt lighter on his feet.
That was not by accident.
Even though he still carried over 200 pounds on his 6´2″ frame, he worked to reshape his body in the offseason.
Besides showing improved quickness, Fountain won more contested balls than the year before.
He seemed to relish the competition for the final spots on the Colts´wide receiver unit.
“Man, it’s really intense. We’ve got a lot of great players all over, man,” he said. “So you’ve just got to keep your head down and just control what you can control.”
It was something he couldn´t control that brought an abrupt end to his roster hopes.
Per Coach Reich, WR Daurice Fountain will miss the entire 2019 season after undergoing "successful" ankle surgery.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) August 18, 2019
In the final training camp practice of 2019, Fountain suffered a fractured and dislocated ankle.
Even as his surgery was deemed a success, the Colts announced he was done for the 2019 season.
Indianapolis in Control
Fountain became an exclusive-rights free agent.
That meant the Colts retained control of his contract status.
If the team offered a contract before March 17, no other team could approach Fountain.
Or they could release the former fifth-round pick to sign elsewhere.
Coming off a horrendous injury without a professional reception on his resume did not bode well for Fountain in free agency.
🏈 Daurice Fountain in the house!! NFL wide receiver for the Colts getting prepped for the 2020-2021 football season! We’re glad to have you back in and look forward to getting you game day ready 🏈❄️🙌🏼🦾 #TheCryoSpaFTW… https://t.co/JSQ33TNEV3
— The Cryo Spa (@TheCryoSpa) March 16, 2020
But the Colts were impressed enough to believe in him if his ankle healed.
Fountain was recently cleared for field activities and showed the Colts he can run and cut.
Assuming Fountain signs the offer (He has the option to sit out the season), he will join the Colts in camp.
Indianapolis is likely to add another wide receiver or two via the draft or free agency.
But if Fountain shows the same improvement and motivation he showed last year,
Maybe the need at the position isn´t quite as big as we thought.