by Austin Lawton
Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports.
In recent years, the Indianapolis Colts have spent their offseason in the search for a new quarterback or a head coach. After finding their duo in Shane Steichen and in the 2023 NFL Draft, Anthony Richardson, the Colts will turn to other areas of the roster to improve in 2024.
One area of concern for General Manager Chris Ballard and the rest of the front office to face is the re-signing of wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. Pittman was drafted 34th overall in 2020 and immediately became the team’s number one target on offense and has established himself as that in his four years on the team.
Pittman has boasted two 1,000+ yard seasons in 2021 and 2023, as well as being named a Pro Bowl reserve twice. Pittman ranked fifth in receptions with 109 and 14th in receiving yards with 1,152 in 2023. The next closest receiver to Pittman on the Colts was rookie Josh Downs, who put up 771 yards.
“Speaking to the contract stuff,” Pittman said in a press conference on Jan. 8, “I’ve loved my four years here, but I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence if I didn’t explore every option and find the best fit.”
“He was big for us,” Stiechen said on Jan. 8 about Pittman. “What he did week in and week out, the numbers he put up, the consistency he played with, the toughness he played with, got a ton of respect for him as a football player. He’s meant a lot to this organization and a lot to this city.”
Pittman also stated that negotiations with the organization were to begin after the season ended. NFL free agency begins on March 13 and Pittman could either re-sign with the Colts or take his talents elsewhere.
In the event Pittman does not re-sign, Indy will have to look to the draft or the pool of free agents. Currently, the Colts have the 15th pick in the draft and prospects such as Rome Odunze out of Washington, Brian Thomas Jr. out of LSU, and Florida State’s Keon Coleman could all be viable options for the Colts at pick 15. Any of these players would work with Richardson and add to an already young receiving core in Indy.
If Ballard, Stiechen and the rest of the staff look to the free agents, Tee Higgins, Michael Evans, Marquise Brown, Calvin Ridley, and Gabe Davis are all projected to be available once March 13 comes around, but would come with a big price tag.
Using a franchise tag on Pittman would be the last thing Ballard would want to do but with a deep market in free agency, it might be necessary to use it. A veteran presence would be a welcome sight in the receiving room as they haven’t had one since T.Y. Hilton left in 2021.