Colts Rumors

Colts Moving Tyquan Lewis To DT

  • With Justin Houston joining the Colts, Tyquan Lewis looks like he will be changing positions. The Colts have used Lewis at defensive tackle this offseason, Tyler Kraft of the Indianapolis Star notes. The 2018 second-round pick played defensive end as a rookie and at Ohio State. Lewis, who spent much of his rookie season on IR, is at bit small for an inside defender. He’s listed at 6-foot-3, 269 pounds, a similar build to 2018 free agent addition Denico Autry (6-5, 270). The recently re-signed Margus Hunt, however, brings more size at nearly 300 pounds. Houston and Jabaal Sheard stand to reside as the team’s top defensive ends. The Colts also drafted defensive end Kemoko Turay in the 2018 second round.

Poll: Who Is Pats’ Top 2019 AFC Challenger?

Another summer featuring the Patriots preparing a title defense will bring PFR’s third version of this poll. The Patriots are only the third team to book Super Bowl berths in three straight years, joining the Dolphins from 1971-73 and Bills from 1990-93, and again Las Vegas tabs Bill Belichick‘s team as the favorite to win a championship.

In the past two AFC title games, the Pats skated to Super Bowls by razor-thin margins. Their 2019 passing attack features more questions than it has in maybe 13 years, dating back to the days before the arrivals of Randy Moss and later Rob Gronkowski. But until they are defeated, this century’s premier team will be the favorite to represent the AFC in Super Bowls.

The top candidate to dethrone them last year may again fill that role, but the Chiefs have gone through a rather complex offseason. After another dismal defensive season, the Chiefs overhauled their pass rush. They ditched anchors Justin Houston and Dee Ford, along with DC Bob Sutton, in moving to Steve Spagnuolo‘s 4-3 defense. But Frank Clark (35 sacks in four seasons), on a $20.8MM-per-year contract in a deal that cost the Chiefs their first-round pick, is Kansas City’s new edge bastion. It is not certain who will fill the role of K.C.’s No. 2 edge rusher, and high-end interior presence Chris Jones skipped minicamp.

This figures to be Patrick Mahomesfinal season on his rookie contract, amplifying the importance of 2019 for the Chiefs. A major AFC variable: the status of the reigning MVP’s top receiver. Tyreek Hill is facing a near-certain suspension, or possibly a Chiefs departure, depending on where the NFL’s investigation goes. So the three-time defending AFC West champions’ status is a bit murky at the moment.

Despite the 2018 Chargers winding up on the wrong end of a divisional-round rout in New England, they still possess one of the NFL’s best rosters. As such, the Bolts were relatively quiet in free agency — beyond their Thomas Davis signing. The Chargers still employ the key players responsible for 2018 top-10 rankings on offense and defense and are in line to have Joey Bosa and Hunter Henry healthy in Week 1. The Bolts still lack a comparable home-field advantage compared to their contender peers but compensated last year by going 8-0 outside of Los Angeles.

In returning nearly every starter from last season, the Colts (who have the fourth-best AFC title odds) carry a similar profile to the Bolts. Chris Ballard again resisted major free agency spending, despite his team holding more than $100MM in cap space entering March. Indianapolis did re-sign multiple starters and have a new T.Y. Hilton supporting cast in Devin Funchess, third-rounder Parris Campbell and 2018 draftee Deon Cain, who missed his rookie season. The Colts were No. 2 in weighted DVOA entering their second-round loss last season.

They of one winning season in the past 16, the Browns loaded up this year and hold Bovada’s third-best odds to win the AFC. Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson and Kareem Hunt stand to play pivotal roles in Cleveland’s pursuit of its first playoff berth since 2002, and John Dorsey‘s two-offseason overhaul has this roster in much better shape. The Browns do have some questions on their offensive line, and new HC Freddie Kitchens brings only a half-season’s worth of coordinator experience. But this certainly profiles as one of the most fascinating contenders in years.

Vegas predicts the Texans and Ravens will take steps back, after each underwent sweeping 2019 changes. And for the first time in several years, the Steelers (sixth-best odds in the AFC) hover off the top tier. Are oddsmakers sleeping on the perennial contenders? The Steelers made multiple moves (in adding Devin Bush, Steven Nelson and Mark Barron) to patch up their defense but lost arguably this era’s top receiver, whose $21.12MM dead-money number limited them this offseason.

Lastly, what surprise team will emerge? Will the Raiders’ spending spree translate to 2019 success? Will Nick Foles stabilize the Jaguars’ offense enough? Will the collectively rebuilding AFC East prevent another five- or six-win Patriots divisional stroll (and the likelihood of the Pats earning a bye in every season this decade)?

Click below to vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your AFC thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Flowers, Jets, Caserio

Given several chances at left tackle with the Giants, Ereck Flowers may be set to receive another NFC East starting opportunity. This one will come with the Redskins, who as of now plan to use the former top-10 pick as a starter. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan said, via Les Carpenter of the Washington Post, Flowers is pegged to start opposite Brandon Scherff at left guard. Flowers, who started 48 games at tackle with the Giants and seven with the Jaguars from 2015-18 before moving to guard in Washington, lined up back at tackle during parts of Redskins minicamp because of Trent Williams‘ absence. While the first-round bust did not fare well in the public portion of the workouts, Washington remains optimistic. The Redskins drafted fourth-round guard Wes Martin (Indiana) but appear to have him set to develop behind Scherff and Flowers.

I see a lot of potential when we’ve moved tackles inside,” Callahan said, via Carpenter. “I think it gives us size, it gives us power. He’s long; he’s square. Obviously, he can play in the short area, so those are things we kind of identified during free agency that we liked, and we are trying to fit him into that mode. So it’s been a work in progress, we got a long ways to go yet, but he’s made a nice transition.”

Shifting first to the AFC, here is the latest from some of the NFL’s Eastern Time Zone-stationed franchises:

  • Colts VP of player personnel Rex Hogan becoming the Jets’ assistant GM may nix the franchise pairing two of its GM candidates in the front office. Bears exec Champ Kelly was linked to the Jets, but Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes (Twitter link) the recent New York GM interviewee was the favorite for the job Hogan received. With Chad Alexander coming aboard as the Jets’ player personnel director and Phil Savage having also accepted a Jets job, the Jets are running out of prominent titles. This could keep Kelly in Chicago.
  • Hogan was still under contract with the Colts, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets, but Chris Ballard gave permission to allow for one of his top lieutenants to leave. Although Hogan and Ed Dodds were hired together, Cimini notes (on Twitter) Hogan served as the Colts’ No. 3 man in their decision-making hierarchy and will move to No. 2 with the Jets. This could put Hogan, who obviously helped the Colts in their rapid rebuild, on the GM radar in the near future.
  • Moving to a far more contentious process, Nick Caserio remains with the Patriots as their player personnel director. But with Caserio preparing to leave in 2020 — perhaps to become the Texans’ GM — Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wonders how much input Bill Belichick‘s right-hand man will have over the next several months. Caserio’s contract runs through the 2020 draft, per Florio, but will Belichick clue in a potentially departing exec on the inner workings of his plans? In a draft when the Patriots could be (again) targeting a Tom Brady successor, the uncertainty around Caserio may force the Pats to turn to other execs during that research process.

Jets Add Colts’ Rex Hogan To Front Office

A day of Jets front office assembling continues. Joe Douglas has hired a third executive to join him in a prominent role, with Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reporting (on Twitter) the team will hire Colts staffer Rex Hogan as its assistant general manager.

This marks a return to the Big Apple for Hogan, who, interestingly, was part of the last round of hires when the Jets brought in a new GM. Mike Maccagnan hired Hogan as his director of college scouting in 2015, and he served in that role for two years. The Colts then brought Hogan in as a co-vice president of player personnel in 2017.

Each of the past three odd years bringing Hogan to a new GM’s staff, this one comes after Hogan helped Chris Ballard assemble arguably the NFL’s top up-and-coming roster. The Colts quickly went from the bottom of the NFL to the playoffs, and Hogan will be tasked with helping Douglas attempt to resurrect the Jets — they of zero playoff appearances since 2010.

Douglas on Tuesday has hired former Browns GM Phil Savage, longtime Ravens executive Chad Alexander and now Hogan. The latter, though, did not serve as a Ravens staffer alongside Douglas like Savage and Alexander did. Instead, Hogan spent more than a decade with the Bears before he joined Maccagnan’s original Jets staff.

This Date In Transactions History: Colts Extend Robert Mathis

The Colts in the 2000s centered their team around their passing attack and pass defense. The least likely member of this cornerstone group became a long-term Colt on this day 13 years ago.

On June 16, 2006, the Colts ensured Robert Mathis, taken with a fifth-round pick out of Alabama A&M three years prior, would play in Indianapolis for many years. They signed the blossoming sack artist to a five-year, $30MM extension (with an $8.1MM signing bonus), which at the time made him one of the top-10 highest-paid defensive ends. That year changed the Colts’ trajectory, and Mathis played a key role in it.

From 2003-05, the Colts deployed Mathis as an off-the-bench defensive end. But he racked up 25.5 sacks (and 17 forced fumbles) in his first three seasons, doing so despite starting only one game. Raheem Brock started as Dwight Freeney‘s counterpart during each of Mathis’ first three seasons, but the Colts moved him to defensive tackle in 2006. Brock remained a Colts fixture up front until 2009, but Freeney and Mathis became the pass rush’s top bastions beginning with Mathis’ ’06 extension.

Interestingly, Mathis received his new deal before Freeney. But the latter’s rookie contract contained more years, and much more money, allowing the Colts to table that extension until 2007. (Freeney signed a six-year, $72MM contract in ’07.) Both players were full-timers for the Colts for the next seven seasons, the first of which doubling as the franchise’s second Super Bowl championship (and first in Indianapolis). In his age-25 season, Mathis led the Super Bowl champion Colts edition in sacks.

Mathis, Freeney, Peyton Manning, Marvin HarrisonReggie Wayne and Jeff Saturday became the linchpins of that Colts era, with the franchise allowing Edgerrin James (franchise-tagged for $8MM in 2005) to walk just prior to the Mathis extension. The Division I-FCS product outlasted all of his peers in Indianapolis.

Although Mathis did not make a Pro Bowl until 2008, the decision to extend him worked out marvelously for the Colts. Mathis went on to play 11 more seasons with the franchise, his 193 games sitting second only to cornerback Eugene Daniel in the Colts’ Indianapolis history. Mathis’ 123 sacks are a Colts record; his 54 forced fumbles are the most of any player in the past 25 years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Sign Third-Round LB Bobby Okereke

The Colts have wrapped up their draft class. The team announced last night that they’ve signed third-round linebacker Bobby Okereke.

Indy selected the Stanford product with the 89th pick of the draft. The 6-foot-1, 239-pound linebacker had a standout collegiate career, compiling 240 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles in 51 games. He earned an All-PAC-12 Honorable Mention nod in both 2017 and 2018, and he served as one of the team’s captains during his senior campaign.

We learned some discouraging news about the rookie linebacker earlier this month. Back in 2015, a Stanford student told school administrators that she was sexually assaulted by a player on the football team at a fraternity party, and the case went on to make national news. Colts GM Chris Ballard later told beat reporters that the player in question was Okereke, although the linebacker was not charged in connection with the alleged incident.

Okereke informed the Colts of the matter, and Ballard said the organization investigated the incident themselves. Because there were no charges filed or disciplinary action against the Stanford product, the Colts went ahead with the selection. Ballard also cited Okereke’s otherwise clean record as one of the reasons for drafting him.

The Colts had been hunting around for a three-down linebacker to pair with Darius Leonard, and the team was apparently encouraged by Okereke’s performance during voluntary workouts. The rookie will likely be competing with Anthony Walker for the club’s starting MIKE spot.

As we mentioned, the organization has now signed all of their 10 draft picks, which we’ve listed below:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Had Jaydon Mickens In For Tryout

  • In addition to everybody on their 90-man roster, the Colts also had a group of tryout players at their minicamp this week, per Joel Erickson of The Athletic (Twitter link). There were a couple of notable names trying out, including former Jaguars receiver/kick returner Jaydon Mickens. Mickens, a 2016 UDFA out of Washington, showed very well as a returner in 2017, but was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury last October. The Jags elected not to tender him a contract after the season. It’s a bit surprising he hasn’t been able to resurface on anyone’s offseason roster yet.

Minor NFL Transactions: 6/13/19

Today’s minor moves:

Chicago Bears

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

New York Jets

Tennessee Titans

Colts, Kenny Moore Agree To Extension

The Colts and cornerback Kenny Moore have agreed to terms on a four-year extension, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The deal will make him the highest paid slot cornerback in NFL history in terms of new money. 

Before the add-on, Moore had one year remaining on his contract. The Colts also had the option of keeping Moore via the restricted free agency tag beyond 2019, but the new deal will provide the Colts with long-term cost certainty and give security to the former undrafted free agent.

After earning his scheduled $645K salary in 2019, Moore will earn $30MM in new money between 2020 and 2023, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Through incentives and bonuses, he can earn up to $36MM over the course of the extension.

The Colts claimed Moore off waivers from the Patriots just prior to the 2017 season. He made the cut as the team’s No. 5 cornerback, but proved to be much more valuable than that late in the season when he took over for the injured Rashaan Melvin later in the season.

In 2018, Moore won a starting role and truly took off. He graded out as the No. 32 ranked corner in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, and finished out with three interceptions and 77 tackles.

Outside of Darius Leonard, Moore was probably the Colts’ most effective defensive playmaker last year. The Colts didn’t necessarily have to extend Moore, who was still under club control for two more years, but they had the cap room to get a deal done after a quiet offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Sign Luke Rhodes To Extension

The Colts have signed long snapper Luke Rhodes to a contract extension, according to a team announcement. It’s a four-year, $4.85MM contract extension that will make him the highest-paid long snapper in NFL history, a source tells Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). The deal also includes $1.25MM in guarantees. 

[RELATED: Colts’ Antonio Garcia Suspended By NFL]

Rhodes signed his exclusive rights tender March 19, giving the team some time to work out a brand new pact. It marks a big pay bump for Rhodes, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent at the linebacker position.

Rhodes has played in 36 games for the Colts since joining the team in 2016 and has appeared in all 32 games since switching over to LS in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.