Colts face interesting offseason calls on Brissett, Ebron, Castonzo

Eric Ebron will be a free agent, and Jacoby Brissett has one year left on his contract with the Colts. Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts' long-term planning started well before the team was eliminated from the playoff race with their Week 15 loss in New Orleans.

The Colts have been trying to build their roster since Chris Ballard was hired as general manager in the winter of 2017, and they will have some major decisions to make about some of their potential free agents this winter. A few players under contract are at crossroads as well.

Here’s a rundown:

TE Eric Ebron

Contract status for 2020: Unrestricted free agent

What the Colts should do: Part ways. Ebron’s talent isn't a question. He had a career season in 2018, catching 66 passes for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns and earning his first Pro Bowl appearance. But Ebron took several significant steps back this season. He had issues with dropped passes, with three in the first half against Oakland in Week 4. He lacked consistency, despite meeting with coach Frank Reich about having a bigger role in the offense. Ebron capped off his disappointing year when he surprised the team by saying he needed to have ankle surgery days after a Week 12 loss to Houston. Ebron said on social media that the Colts knew about his ankle problems all season, but the Colts said otherwise. The tight end’s decision to suddenly shut down didn’t sit well with the team and will likely be one of several reasons he won't return in 2020.

WR Devin Funchess

Contract status for 2020: Unrestricted free agent

What the Colts should do: Part ways. The Colts don’t have much to go on from this season with Funchess. A clavicle injury against the Chargers in Week 1 ended his first year with the Colts before it really began. Receiver is definitely a position of need for the Colts in the offseason, especially a bigger receiver such as Funchess. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Colts circled back to Funchess on another possible one-year deal later in the free-agency period if he hasn’t signed with another team and the Colts want to add more competition at receiver.

QB Jacoby Brissett

Contract status for 2020: $6 million salary, $21.5 million cap figure

What the Colts should do: Retain. Brissett is signed through 2020, with a cap figure of $21.5 million next season but no dead-cap money, so the Colts could cut Brissett with no salary-cap penalty. It would be shocking if the Colts cut ties with their starting quarterback, but you can expect them to add competition through one of three avenues: trade, free agency and the draft. The Colts have had all season to examine whether Brissett can be their franchise leader. The answer, as of now, is no. His play got worse as the season progressed. The reason behind it can’t be fully excused by injuries to Ebron and T.Y. Hilton. Brissett is currently on a three-game skid during which he hasn’t completed more than 53% of his pass attempts. Brissett ranks 30th in the NFL in passing yards per game (198.6) and 25th in completion percentage (61.6).

OL Anthony Castonzo

Contract status for 2020: Unrestricted free agent

What the Colts should do: Re-sign. Castonzo is the elder statesman of the Colts' offensive line. He’ll be 32 years old at the start of next season, but Castonzo continues to be effective while starting on one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. He has a 91% pass block win rate this season, which is third to center Ryan Kelly and guard Quenton Nelson on the Colts' line, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Colts believe in continuity, and there’s no more important group to have it than the offensive line.

DL Jabaal Sheard

Contract status 2020: Unrestricted free agent

What the Colts should do: Part ways. Sheard will be 31 years old when the 2020 season begins. He missed the first three games of the season because of a knee injury. This has been the least productive of his three seasons in Indianapolis. He has only 3.5 sacks and 23 tackles this season. Combine that with the possibility of young players such as Ben Banogu and Kemoko Turay getting increased playing time, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Colts do not re-sign Sheard.

S Clayton Geathers

Contract status 2020: Unrestricted free agent

What the Colts should do: Part ways. The writing was on the wall for Geathers when the Colts let him test the free-agent market last offseason, then moved up to select Michigan State’s Khari Willis in the draft. Geathers, a fourth-round pick by the Colts in 2015, began the season as the starter, but his snaps decreased as the season progressed. He’s averaging nine fewer snaps per game than Willis this season. Willis and Malik Hooker appear to be the Colts' starting safety duo of the future.

K Adam Vinatieri

Contract status 2020: Unrestricted free agent

What the Colts should do: Part ways. Vinatieri isn’t shutting the door yet on a 25th NFL season, but the Colts' loyalty to the NFL’s all-time leading scorer cost them games this season. They can’t let the same thing happen next season. If Vinatieri wants to continue to play, the Colts need to thank him for everything he has done for the franchise in his 14 seasons and let him pursue his career elsewhere. He was 17-of-25 on field goals and 22-of-28 on extra points this season. Chase McLaughlin, whom the Colts signed after Vinatieri was injured, is essentially auditioning to be his replacement. McLaughlin is 3-of-4 on field goals and 9-of-9 on extra points.