Wednesday is the deadline for teams to put franchise or transition tags on their potential free agents. As a result, the free agent climate is constantly changing and could be affecting the Indianapolis Colts‘ offseason plans.
Unfortunately for the Colts, outside linebacker Melvin Ingram became unavailable after the San Diego Chargers placed the franchise tag on him. As a result, Ingram will play for the Chargers and earn in between $15 to $17 million.
Honestly, the Chargers using the franchise tag was an easy call because Ingram would have be a key loss for them. Now, they have more time to negotiate a long-term extension with Ingram, and those discussions will likely occur later this offseason.
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As for the Colts, this move by the Chargers could force them to change their offseason plans slightly. While neither Ingram nor the Colts had any reported interest, many believed Ingram would have been a solid fit in Indianapolis.
Now that Ingram has been franchise tagged, the Colts need to adjust their strategy (assuming they were targeting him in first place).
The Colts would have wanted Ingram primarily for his pass rushing abilities. Ingram had 18.5 sacks over the pass two seasons. Meanwhile, the Colts’ top pass rusher Erik Walden only had 14 sacks during that same time span (11 in 2016).
As of right now, Nick Perry and Lorenzo Alexander are the top edge rushers on the market. Alexander had 12.5 sacks in 2016 turns 34 years old in May. Meanwhile, Perry had 11 sacks in 2016, but never record more than four in the past four seasons.
Outside linebacker Dont’a Hightower is also an option. Although he played inside linebacker for the New England Patriots. He is flexible enough to move outside and be an edge rush. Remember, his strip sack of Matt Ryan changed the Super Bowl.
If anything, the Chargers tagging Ingram will force the Colts to focus on drafting a pass rusher early in the 2017 draft. Hopefully, they will focus on finding one in the first round because that is where the best talent is.
It is unfortunate Ingram is no longer an option for the Colts. However, the offseason is still young and more moves will be made. Teams can start contacting free agents on March 7th.