Brett Mock breaks down some of the considerations new Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson and Owner Jim Irsay will face in the coming weeks.
Prior to launching Colts Authority, I took the time to break down some of the issues that will face the Colts in the coming off-season as the team prepares for the 2012 NFL season. New developments, such as the firing of Bill and Chris Polian and hiring of new General Manager Ryan Grigson have occurred that make the stories worthy of re-publication and revision. We hope you will enjoy the series as the 2011 season moves closer to its conclusion.
The following players, listed by position, are set to be unrestricted free agents when the 2011 season comes to a close:
Quarterback - Dan Orlovsky
Wide Receiver - Pierre Garcon, Anthony Gonzalez, Reggie Wayne
Tight End - Jacob Tamme
Tackle - Michael Toudouze
Guard - Ryan Diem, Mike Pollak, Jamey Richard
Center - Jeff Saturday
Defensive End - Robert Mathis, Jamaal Anderson, Tyler Brayton
Defensive Tackle - Eric Foster
Linebacker - Kevin Bentley, A.J. Edds, Ernie Sims, Philip Wheeler
Cornerback - Jacob Lacey
Safety - Stevie Brown
Needless to say, the 2012 Indianapolis Colts will likely be a unit that has undergone significant turnover.
Wide receiver will probably look different -- it is unlikely that Anthony Gonzalez will return to the team (Wayne may not). Defensive end may look different because the team may not be able to re-sign all three veteran players. If Eric Foster is able to return from his gruesome injury, he may not take the field again for the Colts. Jeff Saturday? How much would it take to keep him with the team and would it be worth it at this point in his career?
My initial estimates -- listed on the newly updated salary cap page -- place the Colts ~$14MM under the cap in 2012. This number will likely increase when bandaid veteran quarterback Kerry Collins drops his cap hit by $12.5MM. That will push the available 2012 cap room for re-signing the free agents listed above at ~$26.5MM.
Mathis, Wayne, Garcon, and Saturday could all demand upwards of $5MM a year. That would leave $6.5MM for signing anyone else the Colts hope to retain, and still have room to sign the 2012 Draft Class, which will require a higher commitment than usual.
The new CBA rules also gives Indianapolis the freedom to push $1.5 million in cap space onto a future year for up to three players, producing potentially $4.5MM of extra room. With a player like Dwight Freeney entering the $19.5MM final year of his contract, it may make some sense to do so. Of course, the team could choose to make restructuring Freeney's contract (read extending) a priority to free up more space in 2012.
If some pretty drastic cap manipulation doesn't occur, if players are not willing to accept smaller contracts in order to keep the nucleus of the team together, or if Jim Irsay and Ryan Grigson cannot find creative way to restructure current veteran contracts, there will be at most ~$11MM to retain a list of players that would include: Jamaal Anderson, Tyler Brayton, A.J. Edds, Eric Foster, Jacob Lacey, Ernie Sims, Jacob Tamme, and Philip Wheeler.
Put simply, that isn't going to happen. There is a lot of work to be done, and a high likelihood of significant team turnover -- particularly if Manning's option is picked up.
Definitely a tough road to hoe. This situation is why hiring a new GM scares me. The Polians had no choice but to figure this out and make it work. They would've been admitting defeat in doing otherwise. If that was the case, firing them would be justified. A new GM doesn't have this same burden. Expecially when Irsay is using phrases like "A new era" and "We are rebuilding." Blowing it up would probably be the easier choice, but I'm not sold it's our best option. I still firmly believe that enough of the mentioned players could be retained to have as good of a chance as anyone to stay in Superbowl contention. Assuming Manning is healthy and we traded the 1st pick of course. First step in a rebuild is demolition, and for me personally, if this is the direction we choose it going to be really frustrating to watch.
@Peyton for President your hero worship has got to stop. manning is done. andrew luck is the face of the franchise now
I should have said to win more Superbowls. Not sure why I worded it that way???? Everyone has a chance to be in contention. Not everyone really has a chance to win. I believe the Colts would.
So, the question for me points more toward this: How do we rebuild our team/system with the players that we are sure to have next year and beyond? How can we maximize having both Brown and Addai for the next 2 years? What formation would allow Bracket and Angerer to succeed?
@mattshedd I'm in the process of writing an article on the Colts core moving forward. Sort of in a holding pattern for a moment, want to wait for some things to occur, but that type of piece will be up this week.
@GregC I appreciate it. You all have enough great thinkers and writers that as soon as I pose a question, I find out you are already halfway through answering it!
Meanwhile the Star continues to write pointless pieces about Grigson's past...
@mattshedd Brackett seemed to be a guaranteed cut when the Polians were in the FO. I can't imagine Grigson is going to want to keep him around.
Is it just me or do the Colts have an utterly insane amount of dead cap? I love Clark and Brackett but I'm a little annoyed that we're locked so tight into their contracts.
Also, anybody know how much space would be saved by cutting Adam V? I mean, the man is awesome, but 3+ million for a kicker? Not worth it.
@mattshedd We're paying Justin Snow a million dollars a year to snap on FGs, XP, and punts.
I have a feeling that, if we can make it work financially, we will see Mathis and Anderson back on the D-line, and say goodbye to Brayton and Foster. Anderson showed he can play multiple positions, and can rush the passer from the inside--something we will need desperately in this league.
I fell in love with Anderson, they guy makes plays..he had our only blocked kick and I believe he had the only TD this year by one of our D-lneman
@mattshedd Hughes is probably gone too unless his cap hit is more in dead weight that it would be with him taking up a roster spot.
I agree that Gonzo and Wayne are both likely to be playing somewhere else next year, but what about Garcon.
Yes, he can have stone hands and make terrible decisions from time to time, but he also has those moments that make you stop dead in your tracks, drop your jaw, and just say "Wow".
He did have a couple plays that helped make Painter look like a decent QB for a couple games.
I just have a gut feeling that somebody is going to make a call to Carcon's agent and make an offer that Indy will either not want to, or not be able to compete with due to cap issues.
Are we really going to go into next season with our primary deep weapons being Blair White and Quan Cosby?
@kc6624 I think Garcon will be the highest priority of all the Colts' FAs. i don't doubt that he stays.
To me, Wayne's situation is entirely dependent on Manning. He might be a high priority if Manning stays. If teh Colts don't succeed re-signing Wayne, I think Gonzo might have a chance if manning stays. I don't see any chance Gonzo stays if Manning is gone.
@Dezznutz1001 To be fair, a lot of that seemed to be a personal beef with Polian(s) and/or Caldwell. With a new FO and HC on board, we might see him back
I think it is either Wayne or Garcon! We either get 1 or 2 more years of an aging Wayne or we get 4-6 years of Garcon in his prime. I love Wayne, but I'll take option #2
Seems to me to be an incredibly tough position for Grigson... I would think if Manning isn't back the decisions look a whole lot different than they would if he is back.
It seems like we learn something different each week when it comes to the cap. Thanks for keeping us informed.
Why is Lacey an UFA...he only has three years in the league. Doesn't that make him a RFA?
Not that I am overly concerned that he stays with the team, but his knowledge of the system and experience does provide for nice depth.
@JonathanCaldwell That's also someone that will stick around for the vet min (if they even want to offer it to him) . I have serious doubts that most Colts would see any king of market outside of top line players like Wayne orMathis after this season. Especially since Les Fraszier/Vikings are the only ones with any familiarity with the players from his time in Indy.
@JonathanCaldwell He was an undrafted free agent.