NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
Sep 27, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) after a win against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. The Colts won 35-33. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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Colts have heavy lifting to do in free agency

The Indianapolis Colts have endured plenty of drama this offseason. After seemingly settling on Josh McDaniels to be their next head coach, McDaniels skipped town right before signing on the dotted line, leading to Frank Reich taking the job.

Now, the Colts have to leave all that madness behind and focus on putting a quality product on the field, something that won’t be an easy task to accomplish. General manager Chris Ballard is entering his second go-around and after being relatively quiet in free agency last year, the time is now to get some momentum with Andrew Luck reportedly on the mend.

Indianapolis is projected to have better than $74 million at its disposal, only less than the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers. Ballard has ample holes to plug across the roster, most notably on the offensive line and all three levels of the defense.

In that vein, Ballard has to be thinking about the bevy of available corners. Trumaine Johnson is getting replaced by Marcus Peters in Los Angeles, so the former Rams star will be on the market. While it won’t be cheap bringing in the 28-year-old, he would give the Colts a stud on the outside to build the secondary around alongside second-year safety Malik Hooker.

If Johnson doesn’t work out, Indianapolis should be aggressively kicking the tires on Malcolm Butler and Kyle Fuller. Fuller is coming off his rookie deal with the Chicago Bears, and after disappointing throughout the first three years of his career, he stepped up and played quite well in 2017. Fuller won’t have a huge market, but he can help in Naptown. Butler will cost somewhere between the cap hits of Fuller and Johnson, and would be a nice addition as well.

On the offensive side of the ball, Ballard would do well to keep Jack Mewhort in house. Mewhort has been the only solid lineman on the Colts in recent years and if he gets some help — think Justin Pugh, Matt Slauson, Zach Fulton or Andrew Norwell — Indianapolis could finally have a front wall to keep Luck upright for the foreseeable future.

in the draft, Indianapolis has the third-overall pick and should be looking to take the best player available. The Colts could opt to go with running back Saquon Barkley out of Penn State, or go defensive with Bradley Chubb, immediately upgrading their pass rush. No matter which direction the Colts end up going in, they have to be right.

In a quickly-improving AFC South, Indianapolis can’t afford to stand pat and fall further behind in the race. A good few months from Ballard would go a long way to restoring hope and credibility in the heartland.

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