Offseason Forecast: Indianapolis Colts


With the offseason officially underway, Around The NFL will examine what's next for all 32 teams. Next up: Indianapolis Colts.

What's changing?

The Colts can feel good about the progress they made this season, but a 45-7 loss to the Patriots in the AFC title game exposed the weaknesses that still plague this roster.

With the offseason underway, Around The NFL explores what's next for all 32 teams.

AFC East:
AFC North:
AFC South:
AFC West:
NFC East:
NFC North:
NFC South:
NFC West:

After two seasons of the Trent Richardson experiment, coach Chuck Pagano might finally be ready to part ways with his disappointing running back. With fellow thumper Ahmad Bradshaw entering free agency, it's time for general manager Ryan Grigson to bolster Indy's offensive line and find a reliable cast of backs to restore what tight end Dwayne Allen recently begged for: offensive balance.

As with Russell Wilson in Seattle, the Colts must think about a massive extension for star quarterback Andrew Luck. Even if that happens after next season, Grigson must weigh the cost of a contract that might north of $25 million as he signs new players this spring. Luck will be here for years, but longtime offensive centerpiece Reggie Wayne is a likely departure. One wild card to watch on offense? Duron Carter, the recently signed son of Cris Carter. Duron emerged in Canada as a freakishly talented pass-catcher, but he returns to the NFL with plenty of off-the-field question marks.

Biggest free agents

» WR Hakeem Nicks: Nicks popped off the screen during a late-season surge that saw the wideout turn out two or three big plays per week down the stretch. Finally looking healthy, the former Giants star made a handful of outstanding grabs in the playoff win over the Broncos and looms as a potential re-signing for the Colts with Wayne expected to go.

» RB Ahmad Bradshaw: He was the team's best running back when healthy. At 28, Bradshaw has averaged 4.7 yards per carry in two campaigns with the Colts. His 2.11 yards after contact ranked 11th in the NFL in 2014. Still, he enters the offseason rehabbing yet another injury. Indy won't have a problem re-signing him in a down market for backs, but if they pass, Bradshaw will find work elsewhere.

» DE Cory Redding: Free-agent safety Mike Adams is near the end of his career and that also applies to Redding, 34, who is pondering his future. Only Vontae Davis, Adams and Sergio Brown ranked higher among Colts defenders this season, per Pro Football Focus, leaving coach Chuck Pagano to gush over his veteran leader, saying: "You can't put a price tag on what he's meant to this team, this organization, the success that we've had over the last three years."

Other key free agents: Darius Butler, Sergio Brown, Reggie Wayne, Josh Gordy

On the way out?

» WR Reggie Wayne: Whether or not Wayne returns for a 15th NFL season, the Colts must upgrade at wideout across from T.Y. Hilton. Wayne was essentially a downfield blocker by season's end, a shadow of the once-dominating X-factor who carried this offense. He's enjoyed a stellar career, but we don't expect Wayne to play a major role in 2015.

» RB Trent Richardson: Richardson promised a bounce-back season, but nothing he put on tape suggests a future breakout. Out of the backfield, he lacks the explosiveness and power he showed in college -- or even with the Browns -- and was outplayed by Bradshaw and Boom Herron. The two-game team-imposed suspension he'll ride into next season voids the guarantees on his $3.18 million base salary, leaving T-Rich open for an offseason release. We expect that to happen.

What they need

The Colts must add size and talent along the offensive line. Khaled Holmes and Hugh Thornton were specifically exposed inside. It seems we've been saying this forever, but Indy's inability to dominate up front continues to make this a one-dimensional offense. ... D'Qwell Jackson isn't getting any younger at inside linebacker. Look for the team to address this position come draft time. ... Adams was a strong fill-in at safety, but the entire back end of this defense could use help. We'd also like to see the Colts add competition along the defensive line, especially at nose tackle, after watching LeGarrette Blount destroy Indy on the ground for the second straight year.

Offseason crystal ball

Trent Richardson will be sent packing, leading to a short-term deal for Bradshaw, who will face competition from a draft pick. The biggest transition will come along the O-line, with Grigson tapping the open market and draft for bona fide help. We wouldn't be stunned to see the team use its first-round pick on a behemoth run-stuffer to anchor the defensive line. The Colts don't need to start from scratch, but this Super Bowl contender has plenty of work to do to stay atop the AFC South.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down the top 25 free agents and reacts to the latest news. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.