The Indianapolis Colts were rumored as a potential suitor to trade with the Chicago Bears to acquire the No. 1 pick for a quarterback this upcoming draft. The Carolina Panthers pulled off a blockbuster deal first, however, and the Colts now find themselves in a much more difficult position to trade up from No. 4.
As a result, they could end up as sellers this offseason — at least according to ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler.
“Some of those teams will stay very active on the phones, feeling out potential suitors,” Fowler wrote in a story on March 12. “The Colts are believed to be one.”
The Colts currently have eight picks in the upcoming draft but could look to acquire more draft capital through a trade. One player who could be available via the trade block — or even through a release — is Indianapolis center Ryan Kelly.
“Sources with several NFL teams say three-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly is available for a potential trade or release,” Fowler wrote.
The Case for Dealing Kelly
Kelly has started in 97 games across his seven-year NFL career. One of Kelly’s best seasons was in 2020, when he allowed just two sacks all season and garnered AP Second-Team All-Pro honors.
Fowler said that Kelly’s cap hit and the Colts offensive line’s poor showing in 2022 could be factored in the Colts shopping the veteran.
“Kelly signed a four-year, $50 million extension before the 2020 season,” Fowler wrote. “With cap hits of $12.4 and $14.6 million in 2023-24, coupled with Indy’s rough outing across the offensive line last year, Kelly’s future in Indy could be tenuous.”
Fowler does have a point in mentioning Indianapolis’ struggles on the offensive line since the unit gave up 60 sacks. But even in midst of a tough 4-12-1 season with an interim head coach and three different starting quarterbacks, the unit took steps forward as the year went on.
Rookie left tackle Bernhard Raimann and second-year right guard Will Fries each improved during the second half of the season and left guard Quenton Nelson earned a fifth-straight Pro Bowl berth.
Colts to Shop Veteran TE?
Fowler added that in addition to Kelly, another veteran within Indy’s offense could be involved in a trade this offseason.
“Tight end Mo Alie-Cox is another name a few teams have on their lists as potentially available,” Fowler said.
Last offseason, the Colts signed Alie-Cox to a three-year contract worth $18 million for added stability at the tight end position following Jack Doyle’s retirement.
But Alie-Cox slowed down in terms of his production, leading to trade rumors. After putting up 394 receiving yards in 2020 and 316 in 2021, Alie-Cox only had 189 yards last season.
Cutting or trading Alie-Cox after the new league year begins would save the Colts just over $5.3 million in cap space.
In addition to the financial side of things, the Colts also might look into dealing Alie-Cox as a result of the team’s depth at tight end.
6-foot-7 rookie tight end Jelani Woods made an impression by putting up 312 yards and three touchdowns in 2022. Second-year TE Kylen Granson improved from his rookie campaign, notching over 300 yards for the first time in his career.
The progress of Woods and Granson combined with Alie-Cox’s lack of production in 2022 could be enough for the Colts to shop the 29-year-old this offseason.