According to OverTheCap.com, the Colts are projected to have $87 million in cap room for 2018, the third most in the NFL. They’re projected to have a top-five pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. They’re starting a quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, who has proven worthy of offseason trade interest, meaning the Colts could use him as bait to acquire more draft picks or quality starters. They’re in a position to let first-year GM Chris Ballard rebuild a roster with the luxury of having a star quarterback already in place.
Matt Bowen, NFL writer: No. Hightower’s versatility and leadership skills will be missed initially for a defense that has struggled to play consistently this season. And that should be expected. But it’s also another opportunity for the Patriots to thrive in an adverse situation. Bill Belichick and his staff will massage the scheme to hide the weaknesses of Kyle Van Noy, David Harris and others who step into this role.
Domonique Foxworth, senior writer at The Undefeated: Yes. Before Hightower’s injury, the defense was this team’s weakest link. But there was some hope that they could be good enough. Now most of that hope is gone. Given the current state of their defense, finding ways to compensate for losing their most versatile defender will be a nearly impossible. But then again, so was coming back from being down 28-3 against the Falcons.
That pattern is echoed across nearly all statistics, with the share of yards receiving for young players jumping from 37 percent to 48 percent; touchdowns rising from 41 percent to 51 percent; yards passing going from 22 percent to 32 percent; and tackles increasing from 39 percent to 48 percent as players on rookie contracts get more responsibility.
I think that mentality has changed over the years, too, said Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who entered the league as an undrafted player in 2005. Because before you got in this league, no matter how good you were unless you were like a first-rounder, if you were a rookie, (coaches) didn’t trust you, didn’t like you. And I think that mentality has changed.