The Colts were headline news today during NFL free agency for the first time in Chris Ballard’s tenure as GM. It wasn’t for Tom Brady or Jameis Winston or another big name QB. Instead, the Colts sent their first-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for interior defensive linemen DeForest Buckner. The Colts then handed him an extension worth 21 million dollars a year. Making him the highest-paid defensive tackle not named Aaron Donald.
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How This Happened
DeForest Buckner heads to the Colts amidst rumors that he wanted to make premium money as one of the best defensive linemen in football. The 49ers didn’t have the cap space to make that commitment, especially at a position the 49ers have a plethora of talent. The 49ers also lack draft capital in the top 100 picks with only one pick. Now the 49ers will have two first-round picks after getting the 13th pick from the Colts.
As for the Colts, the need was clear. The Colts have had little to no interior pass rush over the last several seasons. Earlier today the Colts released Margus Hunt one year into his two-year extension signed last offseason. Furthermore, Denico Autry underperformed after raising expectations in camp. Buckner gives the Colts an interior pass-rushing presence they haven’t had in well over a decade.
What It Means Going Forward
What the trade for Buckner means for the Colts going forward is that a veteran quarterback addition became even more likely. The Colts are now without a 1st round selection for a second year in a row as they traded back last year. This removes any real possibility of drafting a top QB out of college. This gives the Colts a couple of choices at the QB spot.
They can make no acquisitions and trust in Jacoby Brissett for the upcoming season. A veteran QB can be added to the roster to either compete with Jacoby or take over entirely. Finally, the Colts could draft a QB late in the draft and have him compete with Jacoby. The likeliest outcome is a combination of options two and three. The Colts are considered the front runners for Philip Rivers but even if they sign him we should expect to see the Colts take a QB at some point in the draft.
Returning back to Buckner, his acquisition fills a hole in the defensive line for the foreseeable future and then some. He is young, elite, and under contract. This allows the Colts to focus the remainder of their cap space and draft capital on other holes on the roster. The Colts have a need at WR, TE, CB, S, and OL that they can now focus on. DeForest Buckner brings an elite player to the Colts. The kind of player you hope to get at 13. The Colts took the sure thing instead.
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