The Indianapolis Colts, who hold the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft, were one of the potential suitors to trade up and acquire the No. 1 overall pick from the Chicago Bears. But the Carolina Panthers swooped in from No. 9 to trade up for the top selection on March 10 instead.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer detailed exactly how close the Colts were to trading up to No. 1 in a March 20 story.
“The market early was limited,” Breer wrote.
The Colts inquired about the No. 1 pick and spoke to the Bears about a potential deal. But ultimately, the Colts weren’t ready to settle on a surefire rookie quarterback, according to Breer.
“Indianapolis wanted to go through the full process with the quarterbacks and wasn’t convinced enough to move,” Breer said.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard has called the shots on draft-day trades since his hire in 2017. Breer noted that Ballard and Bears GM Ryan Poles have a previous professional connection, but it wasn’t enough to make a deal.
“Poles and Indy GM Chris Ballard worked together in Kansas City and remain close,” Breer wrote.
Breer also acknowledged that the Las Vegas Raiders inquired about trading up from No. 7 to No. 1, but they and the Bears could not see eye-to-eye on a potential trade package.
Indianapolis, needing a quarterback of the future, is now deliberating what to do with the No. 4 pick.
Indy’s Options At 4th Overall
Four projected first-round quarterbacks mean signal callers will be in demand early and often in the draft. Some believe the Colts could risk selecting a third or fourth-choice QB if they do not trade up.
Carolina owning No. 1 means it’s even difficult to trade up to that spot now. The same goes for the No. 2 pick, which is currently owned by a Colts’ divisional foe in the Houston Texans.
The Colts could trade up from No. 4 to No. 3 (owned by Arizona), but it might be complicated to design a trade package for such a move.
With that in mind, the Colts might find it best to hold steady at No. 4. But the team has also been linked to trading two first-rounders for Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who would be an exception to the Colts ending its streak of starting veteran QBs.
Besides Jackson, it would be hard to imagine the Colts trading for or signing a free-agent veteran QB.
Indianapolis addressed a vacancy by adding quarterback Gardner Minshew in mid-March, but it would be hard to imagine the Colts using Minshew as a starter or in a bridge role.
The Colts’ Updated Cap Situation
As of March 19, the Colts have the fifth-highest available cap space in the NFL. Indy trails the Bears, Falcons, Packers and Cardinals, according to Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap.
The Colts, who cleared cap space on March 14 by trading star cornerback Stephon Gilmore, also gave $1 million in bonuses to defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and center Ryan Kelly just days later. Cornerback Kenny Moore II received $500,000 in bonuses.
The team currently has $20.3 million to spend in available cap space. That number could get even larger with a pre-draft trade, or the Colts could elect to use it on more big-name free agents.
Indianapolis was also recently linked to potentially dealing Kelly.