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Colts open free agency with 2 trades, re-sign 4 players

March 16, 2022 GMT
FILE - Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) throws a pass during warm-ups before of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Washington Commanders have agreed to acquire quarterback Carson Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday, March 9, 2022, because the deal cannot be finalized until the start of the new league year next week. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough, File)
FILE - Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) throws a pass during warm-ups before of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Washington Commanders have agreed to acquire quarterback Carson Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday, March 9, 2022, because the deal cannot be finalized until the start of the new league year next week. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough, File)
FILE - Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) throws a pass during warm-ups before of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Washington Commanders have agreed to acquire quarterback Carson Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday, March 9, 2022, because the deal cannot be finalized until the start of the new league year next week. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough, File)
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FILE - Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) throws a pass during warm-ups before of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Washington Commanders have agreed to acquire quarterback Carson Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday, March 9, 2022, because the deal cannot be finalized until the start of the new league year next week. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough, File)
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FILE - Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) throws a pass during warm-ups before of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Washington Commanders have agreed to acquire quarterback Carson Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday, March 9, 2022, because the deal cannot be finalized until the start of the new league year next week. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — New Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will find some familiar faces in the locker room this season.

The offense will be getting another new quarterback.

General manager Chris Ballard opened the free-agent period Wednesday by making the deal everyone knew about and the one few saw coming until other singings made Raiders defensive end Yannick Ngakoue available.

Shortly after the official start of the new league year, Indy announced it had traded quarterback Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders for this year’s third-round pick, a conditional third-rounder in 2023 and a swap of second-rounders this year. Next year’s third-round pick could become a second-rounder based on Wentz’s playing time. Washington also gets a seventh-round pick this season.

That move was reported last week.

But Ballard made a surprise deal in the final hour before signings started. He sent starting cornerback Rock Ya-Sin to Vegas for the 26-year-old Ngakoue, who has 55 sacks in six seasons. Ya-Sin was a second-round pick in 2019 and although he struggled with penalties during his first two years in Indy, he improved significantly last season.

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“Thank you Rock for all that you have done for us the pass few years!” three-time All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard wrote on Twitter.

Ngakoue gives Indy the proven pass-rusher it’s been chasing and Bradley a familiar skillset with which to work. Ngakoue played under Bradley in Jacksonville and last season in Las Vegas.

He was available after Las Vegas signed Pro Bowl defensive end Maxx Crosby to a contract extension and added former Arizona star Chandler Jones in free agency.

While the move fills one glaring hole on the defense, the Colts now appear poised to be parting with their outside cornerbacks from last season — Ya-Sin and three-time Pro Bowler Xavier Rhodes, who also is a free agent.

Ballard, meanwhile, spent most of the previous 48 hours dealing with his own players.

He brought back tight end Mo Alie-Cox, offensive lineman Matt Pryor, defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis and linebacker Zaire Franklin on contract extensions. All four could have left.

The biggest holes on Indy’s roster remain unfilled, though.

Sam Ehlinger, a sixth-round draft pick in 2021, and James Morgan, a fourth-round pick in 2020, are the only quarterbacks currently signed. Neither has thrown an NFL pass.

So far, Ballard hasn’t uttered a word about a possible replacement for Wentz.

And last season’s left tackle Eric Fisher also has not re-signed. The Colts lost right guard Mark Glowinski to the New York Giants though Pryor and 2020 draft pick Danny Pinter could be in the mix to replace him. So could Chris Reed — if the Colts re-sign the veteran.

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