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INDIANAPOLIS – It should be the driving force behind every player.

Do your job. Control what you can control.

That’s especially true when a team’s season goes off the rails, and when that player is in the midst of a contract year.

Put your head down and forge ahead. Control what you can control.

Parris Campbell, Chase McLaughlin and Bobby Okereke did precisely that.

While the Indianapolis Colts en masse were disintegrating into a colossal mess, those individuals took care of their business with free agency looming. It’s anyone’s guess how general manager Chris Ballard and the team’s new head coach – we’ve headed into the second round of interviews – will evaluate the roster in the next month or so, but Campbell, McLaughlin and Okereke did more than enough in 2022 to at least be in the discussion for 2023.

“Obviously there’s going to be change,’’ said Campbell, “but God willing, whatever He has in store for me, I’m excited.’’

The oft-injured 2019 second-round pick was a picture of health in year 4. He was available for all 17 games and, despite a restrictive passing game, posted stats that exceeded his first three seasons with 63 receptions, 623 yards and three touchdowns.

There could be a place for Campbell in next season’s offense, particularly with the Colts expected to secure their quarterback of the future with a top-4 pick in the April draft. It would be counterproductive to add a young QB, then force him to operate with a depleted collection of skill players.

 All things being equal, Campbell would embrace a second contract from the Colts.

“Absolutely. Absolute. I love Indy,’’ he said. “I love the city. I’ve been here for four years.’’

Campbell entered last season well aware it was the final year of his rookie contract, and he had t prove he could stay on the field. Injuries forced him to miss 34 of 49 games in his first three seasons.

“Obviously it’s always there, especially in my situation because of my injury history,’’ he said of pending free agency. “But it was something I didn’t let affect me to where it was taking away from my game.

“My agenda never changed. I was still wanting to be the best player I could be for this team, come in every day and try to get better.’’

Ditto, McLaughlin.

His second stint with the Colts came after Rodrigo Blankenship’s critical overtime miss in the season-opening tie at Houston. The Westfield resident maximized the opportunity by knocking down 30-of-36 field-goal attempts and all 21 PATs. He set a franchise record by converting nine field goals of at least 50 yards.

McLaughlin’s value to the team was magnified by the overall impotency of the offense. The offense scored one TD or fewer nine times. In the final 11 games, the offense managed just 15 TDs. McLaughlin often kept the Colts competitive with 21 field goals during that stretch.

“I feel like I’ve done a great job,’’ he said, “but it’s not up to me. It’s up to God. It’s up to the people who make those decisions.

“All I can do is take advantage of my opportunities and see what they think.’’

Okereke boosted his stock by taking that next step on his career arc.

The 2019 third-round pick started 16 of 17 games – the outlier was in week 4 against Tennessee when Shaq Leonard returned – and finished with 149 tackles, 6 tackles for loss and 5 passes defenses. All were career highs. His tackle total trailed only Zaire Franklin’s franchise-record 166.

“I feel good about what I put out there,’’ Okereke said. “I’ve made plays, clutch plays. I’ve shown enough in that WILL position to show people what I’m capable of doing.’’

He understands the uncertainty regarding a new coaching staff could impact his future with the team. Also, the Colts might be less willing to pay what it will cost to retain Okereke if they have some assurance Leonard will make a full recovery from his second back surgery.

If he hits free agency, Chicago might have an interest. Okereke’s career took root under the guidance of Matt Eberflus, the Bears’ head coach and his former coordinator.

“Just letting my agent focus on that,’’ he said. “I have tried to control what I can control.

“Obviously Ballard brought me in, but Flus and those guys aren’t here anymore. This is like my first real journey into free agency. It’s an opportunity to get financial freedom. It’s massive.

“Indy is near and dear to my heart, but it’s not up to me. It’s about business.’’

The Colts have had trouble finding a legitimate edge pass rusher, so Yannick Ngakoue might be viewed as one of their top off-season priorities. If the price is right, of course.

A look at the Colts’ pending free agents:


Indianapolis Colts defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91) plays against the Washington Commanders in the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)


2022 salary: $13 million

2022 recap: Appeared in 15 games, all as a starter. Finished with 9.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hits, 8 tackles for loss and 29 total tackles. Placed on IR for final two games with throat injury.

Career: Ngakoue joined Reggie White, Aaron Donald, Derrick Thomas and DeMarcus Ware as the only players in NFL history with at least 8 sacks in each of his first seven seasons. In seven seasons, has started 103 of 110 games and compiled 65 sacks, 135 QB hits, 65 tackles for loss and 202 total tackles.

Joined Colts: Acquired in 2022 trade with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Bobby Okereke #58 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates after returning a two-point conversion during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 17, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)


2022 salary: $2.54 million.

2022 recap: Started 16 of 17 games. Enjoyed best season of his career with 149 tackles, 6 tackles for loss and 5 passes defended and 2 forced fumbles.

Career: In four seasons, has started 49 of 64 games and registered 409 tackles.

Joined Colts: 2019 draft, round 3.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (1) makes a catch during practice at the NFL team’s football training camp in Westfield, Ind., Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)


2022 salary: $1.146 million

2022 recap: Achieved primary goal in year 4 by appearing in all 17 games. Ranked second on team with 63 receptions, 623 yards and 3 TDs. All were career highs and exceeded production from the previous three seasons.

Career: Prior to breakout in 2022, injuries limited Campbell to 15 games, 34 receptions, 360 yards and 2 TDs.

Joined Colts: 2019 draft, round 2.

Indianapolis Colts place kicker Chase McLaughlin (7) kicks a field goals as punter Matt Haack (6) holds during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in Denver. The Colts defeated the Broncos 12-9 in overtime. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


2022 salary: $965,000

2022 recap: Replaced Rodrigo Blankenship and handled kicking duties for final 16 games. Responded with best season of four-year career: 111 points, 30-of-36 field goals, including 9-of-12 on attempts of at least 50 yards, 21-of-21 on PATs. The nine 50-yarders are a franchise record.

Career: Has spent time with Colts, Chargers, 49ers, Jaguars, Jets and Browns during a four-year career. Has converted 67-of-85 field-goal attempts – including 17-of-21 from 50 and beyond – and 88-of-90 PATs for 289 points.

Joined Colts: Signed to the practice squad in September 2022.

E.J. Speed #45 of the Indianapolis Colts blocks a punt by Trevor Daniel #12 of the Tennessee Titans (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)


2022 salary: $965,000

2022 recap: Benefitted from Shaq Leonard’s abbreviated season by appearing in 17 games with five starts. Had a career-high 8 tackles in the season-ending loss against Houston. Collected 55 tackles, including 32 solos, with 7 tackles for loss and 1 sack.

Career: Appeared in 61 games with six starts in four seasons. Had 79 total tackles on defense, including 8 tackles for loss. Was a special teams standout with 31 tackles, one blocked punt and two TD returns on blocked punts.

Joined Colts: 2019 draft, round 5.

Shaq Leonard #53 and Tyquan Lewis #94 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates after a fourth down stop in the game against the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 16, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)


2022 salary: $2.275 million

2022 recap: A torn patellar tendon ended his season for a straight year. Was a solid rotational component on the defensive line before suffering the injury in a week 8 game against Washington. Started four of seven games and had 14 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack and 4 quarterback hits.

Career: Injuries limited him to 48 games and 15 starts in five seasons. But he still managed to make a difference with 70 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 25 QB hits and 1 interception.

Joined Colts: 2018 draft, round 2.

Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney McLeod Jr. (26) defends against the New York Giants during an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)


2022 salary: $1.112 million

2022 recap: Proved to be one of the team’s better off-season acquisitions. Started 15 of 17 games and registered 92 tackles, including 8 for a loss, 8 passes defended and 2 interceptions, including one returned for a TD.

Career: In 11 seasons with the Colts, Eagles and Rams, appeared in 156 games with 138 starts. Piled up 655 tackles, including 23 for loss, 2 sacks, 60 PDs, 10 forced fumbles and 18 interceptions.

Joined Colts: Signed as a veteran free agent in April 2022.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Ashton Dulin (16) warms up before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)


2022 salary: $2.433 million

2022 recap: Limited to 12 games and two starts by injury. That limited him to 15 receptions, 207 yards and 1 TD. Added 4 special teams tackles.

Career: Appeared in 55 games with 3 starts in five seasons. Had 33 receptions, 450 yards and 3 TDs on offense, but made his mark on special teams. Was named second-team All-Pro in 2021 on the strength of 17 tackles and two fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a TD.

Joined Colts: Signed as an undrafted rookie in May 2019.

Indianapolis Colts safety Brandon Facyson (31) on the sideline during an NFL Football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)


2022 salary: $1.7 million ($3.66 million against the cap)

2022 recap: Saw action in 16 games, four as a starter. Had 28 tackles and 6 PDs.

Career: In five seasons with Colts, Raiders and Chargers, collected 123 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 20 PDs, and 1 interception.

Joined Colts: Signed as veteran free agent in March 2022.

Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Matt Pryor (69) warms up before an NFL football game against the New York Giants on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)


2022 salary: $1.72 million ($5.545 million against the cap)

2022 recap: Named the starting left tackle from the start of the offseason, but couldn’t hold onto the position. Bounced from left tackle (four starts), right guard (four) and right tackle (one) while appearing in 16 games with nine starts.

Career: Has appeared in 60 games with 24 starts in five seasons with Colts and Eagles.

Joined Colts: Acquired in 2021 trade with Philadelphia.


  • RB Deon Jackson
  • DE Ben Banogu
  • S Armani Watts
  • DT Chris Williams
  • CB Tony Brown
  • DT Bryon Cowart
  • OT Dennis Kelly
  • P Matt Haack
  • OL Carter O’Donnell
  • DE Khalid Kareem

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