Former Colts Defensive Playmaker Signs With New Team: Report

Frank Reich

Getty Head coach Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts saw one of their former players find a new home on September 27.

A few veterans the Indianapolis Colts didn’t bring back from their roster last year remained free agents at the start of the 2022 season. But one of them now has a new team.

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported the Buffalo Bills signed former Colts cornerback Xavier Rhodes. The 32-year-old played for the Colts during the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

The Bills are adding Rhodes to help fortify a depleted secondary that’s seen seemingly countless injuries to defensive backs during the first 3 weeks of the season. Rhodes will reunite with Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who was Rhodes’ first head coach with the Minnesota Vikings.

Rhodes played for the Vikings from 2013-19. Frazier served as the head coach in Minnesota from 2010-13.

Defensive Playmaker Finds a New Home With Bills

The Vikings drafted Rhodes at No. 25 overall in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He turned into a regular starter by his second season and then made his first Pro Bowl in 2016.

During the 2017 season, which saw the Vikings defense become one of the best units in the league and lead the team to an NFC Championship Game appearance, Rhodes made first-team All-Pro. He also made the Pro Bowl again in 2017 and 2019.

But Minnesota allowed Rhodes to become a free agent after the 2019 season. In free agency, Indianapolis signed him to a 1-year contract. The Colts brought him back on another 1-year deal for the 2021 season.

This offseason, though, Colts general manager Chris Ballard elected to sign cornerback and former Defensive Player of the Year winner Stephon Gilmore to a 2-year contract rather than re-sign Rhodes. Indianapolis didn’t really have salary cap space for both players, and through 3 weeks, the Colts are struggling to find playing time for all their playmakers in the secondary even without Rhodes on the roster.

While he’s past his prime, Rhodes will bring a veteran presence to the Bills secondary. In 2 seasons with the Colts, he posted 3 interceptions and 19 pass defenses in 29 games. Rhodes returned 1 of his 2 interceptions in 2020 for a touchdown.

He also recorded 81 combined tackles, including 1 tackle for loss in Indianapolis.

In his 9-year career, Rhodes has posted 13 interceptions, 2 of which he returned for touchdowns, 92 pass defenses, 453 combined tackles, and 3 forced fumbles. He recovered a fumble with the Colts in 2021.

Colts’ 2022 Free Agents Eric Fisher, T.Y. Hilton Remain Unsigned

Rhodes, Fisher and Hilton were all All-Pro calibre players in their prime but older than 30 when they played together on the 2021 Colts. Indianapolis elected not to re-sign all 3 of them.

Rhodes is the first of the 3 to find a new home. Fisher and Hilton are still searching for their next NFL opportunity.

ESPN’s Ed Werder reported on August 25 that Fisher turned down 9 offers from teams during the offseason. Clearly, the 2-time Pro Bowl left tackle is taking his time finding his next NFL location.

Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon speculated that Fisher could still fit with the Colts because of Matt Pryor’s early-season struggles. Kenyon also identified the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans as the best fits for Fisher.

Hilton, though, hasn’t drawn as much interest. Before the season began, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox called the Chicago Bears the best fit for Hilton. But the rumor mill has been quiet around Hilton the last few weeks.

Spotrac estimated Hilton’s average annual market value to be about $6.2 million on a 2-year deal.

It will be interesting to see if either Fisher or Hilton land midseason contracts as Rhodes did on September 27.

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