INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL’s legal tampering period has begun, and with it comes rapid-fire reports of teams agreeing to contracts with players set to enter the free agent pool.
The deals cannot become official until Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET when the NFL’s new league year officially begins.
The Indianapolis Colts have the money to be very active if they choose. While general manager Chris Ballard has developed a reputation of being passive in free agency, the team has roughly $70 million in cap space and several holes to fill on the roster.
Indianapolis is once again in the market for a quarterback after last week’s trade of Carson Wentz. The Colts also appears to be in need of a new left tackle after reports surfaced stating that Eric Fisher has decided to test his worth on the free agent market. Other areas of need include wide receiver, tight end, defensive end and cornerback.
Follow our live blog as we keep tabs on what moves the Colts’ make over the coming days.
Yannick Ngakoue-Rock Ya-Sin trade
The Colts have acquired veteran defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, according to a source with knowledge of the transaction.
The Colts acquire Ngakoue’s contract, and it’s a favorable one. He’ll count just $13 million against the 2022 salary cap: $5 million in base salary and $8 million in a roster bonus.
Another plus: Ngakoue generated 10 sacks and 23 quarterback hits last season while playing in Gus Bradley’s defense. Bradley now is the Colts’ defensive coordinator. Bradley was also Jacksonville’s head coach in 2016 when the Jaguars selected him in the 3rd round.
Ngakoue, 26, brings instant credibility to a Colts edge pass rush that has been inconsistent over the past several seasons. He has piled up 55.5 sacks and 119 quarterback hits in seven seasons and 95 games while spending time with Jacksonville, Baltimore, Minnesota and the Raiders. He started all 17 games last season in Las Vegas and posted 10 sacks and 23 QB hits. Ngakoue has had at least 8 sacks in five of his seven seasons, including a career-best 12 with Jacksonville in 2017.
Ya-Sin heads to Las Vegas after enjoying the best season of his career in Indy. The 2019 2nd-round draft started 30 of 41 games and had two interceptions and 20 passes defensed.
The Colts are re-signing defensive end Tyquan Lewis to a one-year, $3 million contract, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday evening. Lewis, who suffered a season-ending torn patella tendon in week 12 against Tennessee, had established himself as a valuable movable part in the d-line rotation last season. Prior to his injury, Lewis had 2.5 sacks in 2021 and was on pace to surpass his career-high of 4 sacks in 2020.
The Colts are re-signing offensive tackle Matt Pryor to a one-year contract worth up to $6 million, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday evening.
Indianapolis acquired Pryor in an August trade with Philadelphia, and he appeared in all 17 games with four starts at right tackle for Smith and one at left tackle. With Eric Fisher exploring his options in free agency, Pryor could become the Colts’ starting left tackle this season.
The Colts have added size and experience at cornerback by agreeing to a one-year contract with Brandon Facyson. The 6-2, 197-pounder started nine games last season for the Las Vegas Raiders and new Colts’ defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Facyson, 27, also was with Bradley for three seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers.
He has as appeared in 56 games with 13 starts while spending time with the Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers. He came up with his first interception last season while adding 55 tackles.
Facyson should contend for significant playing time. Two-year starter Xavier Rhodes becomes an unrestricted free agent Wednesday.
Linebacker Zaire Franklin has agreed to a three-year, $12 million contract that includes $4 million in guarantees, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed was first to report the re-signing.
Franklin, 25, has emerged as a starting linebacker and integral special teams contributor. The 2018 7th-round draft pick has appeared in 65 games with 15 starts, and 11 of those starts came last season when he finished with 29 tackles.
Franklin’s special teams influence shouldn’t be casually dismissed. He’s piled up 30 special teams tackles in four seasons, including 20 the past two seasons. In the Colts’ week 10 win over Jacksonville, Franklin blocked a punt that E.J. Speed returned for a touchdown.
The Colts lost a major component of their offensive line. Right guard Mark Glowinski has agreed to a three-year contract with the New York Giants that includes $11.4 million in guarantees and could be worth as much as $20 million.
Glowinski’s departure follows the news that starting left tackle Eric Fisher, who becomes an unrestricted free agent Wednesday, will test the open market.
The Colts claimed Glowinski off waivers from Seattle December 2017 and he emerged as an offensive line mainstay. He started 59 games the past four seasons, including at least 14 in each of the last three seasons.
The Colts at least considered exploring Deshaun Watson, but it never was a possibility.
The Houston Texans are actively seeking a trade for their embattled quarterback, and rebuffed the Colts’ attempt at talking to Watson, according to ESPN. Watson reportedly is meeting with the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints in the next few days.
Watson, 26, missed the 2021 season while facing 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints alleging sexual assault and inappropriate conduct. However, interest in him across the NFL increased last Friday when a Houston grand jury declined to indict Watson.
The Colts are in the market for a starting quarterback after agreeing last week to trade Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders.
T.Y. Hilton confirmed during a Monday interview with NFL Network he’s intent on returning for an 11th season. Hilton had been contemplating retirement.
“I’m just looking for a team that’s looking for a guy that’s willing to work, is going to give it everything he has, and if you need a guy who can help your No. 1 out and take pressure off him, I’m that guy,’’ Hilton said.
“I’m a free agent, so I’m open. If you want me, then come get me. If Indy wants me, then they know where to find me. Would I love to finish my career there? Absolutely. But I also have to look at other teams.’’
Hilton, 32, heads into the veteran free-agent market for a second straight offseason. He considered his options last year, including a lucrative offer from the Baltimore Ravens, but re-upped with the Colts for a one-year, $8 million contract.
“I’m a free agent, so it’s only right that I do my due diligence and see what’s out there and see what teams are looking for,’’ Hilton said.
The Colts are re-signing tight end Mo Alie-Cox to a three-year, $18 million contract, according to a source.
The veteran was set to hit the open market Wednesday, but now stays with the team that brought him into the NFL. Alie-Cox signed with the Colts as an undrafted rookie in in April 2017 after he had a solid career as a power forward at Virginia Commonwealth.
Alie-Cox has appeared in 57 games with 16 starts. He has been a steady complement to Jack Doyle, who retired last week, and contributed 70 receptions, 936 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Colts have taken at least one step to retain a valued player.
The team on Monday tendered Ashton Dulin a one-year, $2.4 million contract as a restricted free agent, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Dulin originally signed with the Colts as an undrafted rookie in May of 2019, and has emerged as a core special teams player. He was named second-team All-Pro last season.
Dulin also has contributed at wideout. He was named second-team All-Pro last season as a special teams standout. He had his most productive season with the offense in 2021 with 13 receptions for 173 yards and two touchdowns.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.