With the close of the 2010 NFL fiscal year, the Colts have some tough choices to make at nearly every spot on the roster. Let's go through the top of the Colts' roster player by player with an eye on what it might cost (or save) to bring them back for 2011.
In doing this exercise we have to take for granted some presuppositions:
1. There will be a full season in 2011. This is a big one, but if there's no season, there's NOTHING to talk about, so let's stay positive for the moment.
2. The new CBA will have roughly comparable salary rules to the old CBA. It seems to me that the battle lines are being drawn around how much money the owners and players will split, and not around the way contracts are structured. For the purposes of this article, we are assuming the old salary cap rules will be in place in the new CBA. This is a big assumption, I know, but I haven't heard any suggestions or alternative plans, so for now, we'll stick with what we know.
Finally, there is one more major assumption that isn't quite the given the other two are. For now, I'm assuming that players cut before the end of the 2010 year are cut in an uncapped year. That means that their entire unaccounted for bonus money can be written off without penalty going forward. In the old days under a cap, a player who was cut had to have all his bonus money accounted for in the next season. This created the so called 'dead money' effect. However, because there is no cap in 2010, it is unclear how players cut now will affect future cap calculations. While it is possible the new CBA could retroactively charge teams for players cut in 2010 going forward, it seems more likely that there is a short window in which teams can essentially erase past mistakes, flooding the market with over-priced veterans.
Now, let's look at the roster by salary and consider what will become of the key names. Most salary information comes from Coltscap.net, which hasn't been updated in a while, but the numbers still hold for most of the players in question. Even when they are off by small amounts, in most cases the general principles will hold true. Remember that in most cases 'bonus money' must be paid to the player no matter, but salary does not.