Colts Bolster Defense, Sign Free Agent Pass Rusher: Report

Frank Reich

Getty Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts added another free agent defensive player.

General manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich often mention how the Indianapolis Colts are always looking to improve their roster. The Colts did that again on June 13, adding a veteran presence along the defensive edge following minicamp.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports the Colts are signing veteran defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo.

The financial details of the contract have yet to be disclosed.

Odengibo spent last season playing nine games for the Cleveland Browns. His best season came in 2019 when he posted 7.0 sacks, 13 quarterback hits and 7 tackles for loss in 16 games with the Minnesota Vikings.

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Colts Add Another Pass Rusher

One of the weakest aspects of the Indianapolis roster last season was the team’s pass rush. The Colts were tied for 25th in sacks with 33, and no Indianapolis defender had more than 7.0 sacks in 2021.

But Ballard has aimed at fixing that pass rush in multiple ways. First, the Colts traded for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who has posted at least 8.0 sacks in all six of his NFL seasons.

Indianapolis also added cornerback Stephon Gilmore and Brandon Facyson along with safety Rodney McLeod in free agency. Those defensive backs should provide better coverage in the Colts’ secondary, which will allow the pass rush some extra time to place pressure on the quarterback.

The Colts also have high expectations for edge rusher Kwity Paye in his second season. He was Indianapolis’ first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Adding Odenigbo is another attempt from the Colts to improve their pass rush. Odengibo has posted two seasons with at least 3.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hits in his NFL career.

Pro Football Focus has awarded Odengibo a pass rushing grade worthy of a borderline starter or high-end backup in the league during each of the last three seasons.

How Odenigbo Fits With Indianapolis Colts

Despite the continued pocket pressure he’s provided along the edge, Odenigbo arrives in Indianapolis as bit of a reclamation project. He had zero sacks with no tackles for loss and just 3 quarterback hits in nine games last season. He also had 13 combined tackles and a fumble recovery.

The year prior with the Vikings, Odenigbo posted 35 combined tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hits and 3.5 sacks in 15 games.

PFF gave the 28-year-old an overall player grade of 49.6 in 2021, which is far below replacement level and his worst PFF grade for any full season of his career.

Still, Odenigbo will have a chance at making the Colts roster. Other than Ngakoue, the Colts don’t have another edge rusher on the roster that’s recorded 7.0 sacks in a season at any point of his career.

The question for Odenigbo will be whether he can rediscover his pass rushing magic from 2019 to carve our a role in Indianapolis.

The 28-year-old will presumably compete with Tyquan Lewis, Dayo Odeyingbo and Ben Banogu for playing time. The Colts also have Bryan Cox Jr., Kameron Cline and Scott Patchan on the depth chart at defensive end.

Ngakoue and Paye are expected to start at the two edge positions for Indianapolis.

Odenigbo is the second edge rusher the Colts have signed within the last week. Indianapolis also added Cox on June 10.

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