by Paul Wanecski
Just because you have an insane amount of cap space doesn’t mean you let players make more money than they should. The Colts are going to look at the long term prospects of players and will be very aggressive in free agency. While they do have plenty of money to throw around, two unwise investments could cripple them in the seasons down the line. Not only that, they could go into free agency and make some serious moves and with the restructuring of current roster players contracts, they would position themselves for a decent cap rollover to be able to do that same thing next season.
The Colts currently have nearly 40 million in salary cap space and hold the 28th selection in this year’s NFL draft. They will need to attack this offseason if they are looking to build enough depth to get past the division championship game, where they were embarrassed by the New England Patriots. They will need a better cornerback play. They will need better contributions from the linebacker core. They will need to establish the future of the receiving core. When all is said and done, the Colts could be the most exciting team to watch this offseason.
Saving 3.1 million has never been so easy. Have a nice day, Trent Richardson.
With tons of salary cap room, the Colts can extend WR TY Hilton tomorrow and quite honestly they should. You could draw the comparison to Randall Cobb but in truth the two players are not comparable given that they both play different roles in their respective team’s offenses. Setting market value when your player is already under contract is a lot simpler than having to pay the price for another franchises foolish investment.
LB Robert Mathis is currently 34. His contract contains 3.75 million in roster bonus this year and none next season, instead a 1.5 million roster bonus. Is his production worth that much money at this point? Probably not. His release would save 4 million if he doesn’t restructure (which the franchise might not ask him to do with the cap space they already have available)
LT Anthony Castonzo’s contract is all base salary, which means the team could cut him at any time this year, saving near 7.5 million. They are not going to do that. Expect them to try and lock him in for another 4 seasons.
QB Andrew Luck is about to become a very rich man. It would be in the Colts best interest to front load a contract for him with all the cap space they have, make sure the guarantees are spread throughout the next two seasons and then backload the contract with roster bonuses. A large signing bonus is always coveted by players but rarely become something teams what to do on extensions, as it limits the flexibility of restructuring a deal in the future.
CB Greg Toler is vastly overpaid. If he were to take a pay cut to bring his salary down to the 4-5 million range, that would side step the organization releasing him, saving 5.5 million
LB Erik Walden is the same story. His worth on the market is below his 4.25 million cap figure this year. Pay cut or get cut.
WR Reggie Wayne may be considering retirement, which is shocking to think that he is at that age. Wayne’s contract would have not exceeded 5 million. His recent injury history and reduction in snaps may have been the reason for the teams choosing not to have him back for 2015.
It would be a shock to see WR Hakeem Nicks return.
S Sergio Brown will fall into a full time role in 2015 after he is resigned.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw will be another player who will not return.
The Colts may part ways with their first round selection for one of two reasons:
Minnesota calls (see below), or a team contacts them about trading back into the first round to select a player while still retaining a 5th year option. To be honest, they don’t really need this pick.
They will continue to look for defensive line depth in the later rounds.
The second round selection will either be a WR or CB based on the run of the position with the rest of the draft. They will also look to add an RB in the 3rd or 4th round.
While not exactly a free agent, RB Adrian Peterson would make this team dangerous. The Colts could stand to part with their first round pick for the running back. All this will depend on the status of the running back market. RB DeMarco Murray would be the most logical candidate to replace…well…everyone the Colts had on the roster in 2014.
While it is never advisable to sign a former Baltimore Raven linebacker (see Miami and Daniel Ellerbe), the Colts may not be able to help themselves with Pernell McPhee.
T/G Orlando Franklin most likely lands in Indy. They will go after Franklin with great authority. If he doesn’t arrive in Indy, it wasn’t because they didn’t offer him enough money. They will need a guard.
The Safety position will have plenty of inexpensive veteran options.
Quick Guide to the Rookie Wage Scale (First Round Breakdown)