After hearing conflicting reports for the past week, the Colts have finally locked up Robert Mathis for a long term deal this afternoon. Last week, Bob Kravitz reported that talks between the two parties were "warming up," but later reports claimed that no negotiations had yet to take place.
Earlier today, Adam Schefter tweeted the following:
Colts trying to sign DE Robert Mathis to a new deal but if they can't, they told him they will use franchise tag on him by today's deadline.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 5, 2012
Right before the 4 PM deadline, it was released that the Colts had franchised Mathis, but that the two sides were close to a new deal.
20 minutes later, Mike Chappell of the Indy Star and Anthony Calhoun of WISH-TV both confirmed the agreement of a new deal.
First the tag, then more. Colts and Robert Mathis have agreed on long-term deal. Good for both sides.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) March 5, 2012
BREAKING: The #Colts announce they have reached a long term deal withRobert Mathis...more tonight at 5pm on WISHTV.— Anthony Calhoun (@ACwishtv) March 5, 2012
This is great news for the Colts' defense, and for Coach Pagano, who has gushed repeatedly over Mathis and Dwight Freeney. Mathis will likely transition to more of a stand-up, outside linebacker role, but it all depends on how the new defense shapes up.
The Colts now turn their attention to Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne, and the other 16 unrestricted free agents. Who should be next?
Mike Chappell updated us with contract details:
Colts ponied up for Robert Mathis. 4 years, $36 million, $15 SB. $17 mill in 1st year, $24 mill in 2nd year. Next dinner's on #98.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) March 6, 2012
So, Mathis will receive $17 million in his first year, and will have received $24 million by the end of his second year. The cap situation then, looks something like this: $2 million base salary in 2012 plus 1/4th of the signing bonus (3.75), making it a $5.75 million hit on the 2012 cap. That's a great deal for a premier pass rusher. The 2013 cap number would be $10.75 million, as Mathis would receive a $7 million base, plus the prorated signing bonus.
The more I look at the Mathis signing, the more confused I get You do not sign a guy like Mathis to this kind of a contract if you are rebuilding. Either this front office is totally in disarray or they have a plan that includes winning in 2012. And coincidentially, winning does not include starting a rookie QB.
It's silly when you think about it. They spend a franchise tag on a player who gets signed 20 minutes later. They should've either worked a deal earlier or work on a deal and sign him on the 13th. They should have used the tag on Garcon and then work out a deal with him, or conversely use it on his partner Wayne and work out a deal. Not impressed with the Colts during this signing.
@Andrew Aziz This is backwards thinking. They didn't franchise a player they were 20 minutes from getting a long term deal from. They franchised a player and that caused the negotiations to only last 20 more minutes.
If Mathis' agent can get even 1 real offer (which he can't do while Mathis is under contract) he can significantly change the negotiations. Until the Colts proved that they weren't going to franchise Garcon, Mathis had this chance. Once they franchised him this went away and Mathis got back to the negotiating table double quick.
@Andrew Aziz You are assuming that if they had the tag free they think Garcon or Wayne is worth $9.5M. They offered Garcon 5 years at 7 per. They got the free agent they wanted back the most (leaving Manning out of the the mix as a special case) and we have no idea whether they would risk either WR counting $9.5M next year.
Has there been any news regarding the Colts offering the Franchise or other tender to another player (hopefully Garcon)? Between he and Mathis, they were the most talented players most at risk of leaving for Free Agency. Locking up Mathis would allow them to use a tag on Garcon so if he leaves, the team would get some kind of compensation (other than a weak compensatory pick next year).
@Westhoff The deadline is passed on the Franchise, so my understanding is that they cannot use it on somebody else.
Guys, rebuild doesn't mean you dump every guy over 30... Mathis just turned 31, if healthy, he has 3 productive years left, but even after 2, cutting him would save money. And there is no draft prospect more suited to play OLB, than him. If I'm correct, Mathis played a hybrid role in college, or at least played some OLB too. He is extremely fluid and has awesome change of direction skills.
Part of me agrees with the notion that you don't re-sign a 31 year old 4-3 pass-rusher if you're changing schemes and preparing to overhaul the majority of the roster (especially at QB). The other part thinks there's nothing more to this than the Colts wanting to keep an impact player (albeit limited) because you never know when a great pass rusher comes along. That said, the Packers parted with Aaron Kampman pretty quickly - a great 4-3 end but was lost as a 3-4 LB - and it looks like Houston is going to do the same with Mario Williams.
Call it a rebuild if you want. The roster should have been "rebuilt" around Manning five years ago when it was clear the defense failed to perform consistently in the scheme. As far as I'm concerned any player not named Manning, Saturday, Collie, Freeney or Clark is worth cutting.
You cant rebuild by keeping all your biggest cap hits. I agree that in rebuilding there is room for productive vets to be kept but part of rebuilding HAS to include clearing cap room or you are just nibbling around the fringe of the roster.
@19>18 There are some players I'd hate to part with, but 19>18 is right: You can NOT keep all the high cap players. A team has to make choices, however painful.
It stinks, but it's a fact of life in the modern NFL. The salary cap is designed to force such losses in the name of parity (keeping in mind Nate's thoughts on his old blog about whether salary caps truly result in such. What I'm saying is that the *intent* is that).
@19>18 Oh yes, of course. That's dead on. Detroit at one end of the spectrum (until very recently) and the Colts at the other (also until very recently... haz a sad... ) were epitomes of this.
But yes, there's a 'weight" pulling teams toward parity. It's up to the individual franchises to outwit, so to speak, that influence. Good ones will, that's absolutely correct.
it is nit picking but free agency, the draft and cap can only offer the opportunity for parity. Bad front offices will continue to sink their teams and the opposite for good front offices despite the system's influence dragging them to the middle
I don't think that the Colts are rebuilding anymore. Trade the pick, resign Peyton at a more favorable number, and draft like hell. No reason they can't compete for the AFC crown next year.
@LSB02 I don't know if I'd go *that* far (re: say that Colts aren't rebuilding). That defensive backfield sure could use a facelift, if not an outright restructuring and renewal of some parts.
Ditto the interior offensive line. Saturday may not come back, and none of the guards really impress me that much.
That said, I do agree that too many people are overstating the extent of the rebuild. Freeney and Mathis are prime examples of this. Given the issues some teams have finding a reliable pass rushing DE, why in heaven's name would a team toss one or both just to change scheme? I think there's going to be considerable change, but not a ground-up, toss everything out rebuild of the defense.
In other news: While it pains me to pass on Luck, I'd much rather have Peyton back. Even if he's not 100% (the 80+% range would be acceptable). As long as he's not a shadow of his former self, I'll live with the trade-off. So yeah, I do wish the Colts would trade the pick. That would be sweet, in my mind. Wish it had a chance of happening. :(
@AJ_ @LSB02 The extent of the rebuild is probably a bit overstated, but not too far off. Its clear just by the coaches that Pagano has brought on that the team philosphy is changing. The defense was geared around read and react w/ zone coverages, it now will be an attacking style. Mathis is obviously a player worth keeping in any style. In a throwing league, what else is more important than disrupting the QB?
I would expect the FO to rid the team of defensive players that don't lend themselves to attacking. Say a bunch of zone CB's that can't press at the line to allow a blitz to reach the QB (basically the entire secondary), zone coverage LB's w/o the strength to take on blocks or blitz.
The offense would seem to move from a pass only, unless the defense shows you otherwise to a balanced attack. I'm guessing this isn't a complete flush either... bring in some bigger OL w/ a better mix of run blocking capabilities, FB, TE, stronger running RBs, instead of a full stable of pass catchers.
There is some talent on the team and a few players probably can play in the new schemes but based on the age and completely different philosophy, I'm guessing not many will be around much longer. Its not feasible to do a full dump in one year. But certainly as Nate has said before, 2014 is probably a completely different team.
Why would a team hire a 3-4 coaching staff to run a 4-3 D? Mathis on paper is more suited to 3-4 pass rusher at OLB than 4-3 DE. He might actually be BETTER in a 3-4. IMO, just to line up competitively, this team needs a #1 WR, at least one top interior OL, a 3-4 NT if they even want to mix that scheme in, a starting caliber safety opposite Bethea, and two CBs. Call it a rebuild or just filling some holes, I dont see how we line up next year without addressing those holes. And that doesnt address fixing special teams, assumes Ijalana wins a starting job at RT, Wayne or Garcon is resigned to be the number two WR, someone plays competently at QB, Clark or Tamme plays well next year for us, our RB by committee is effective. And there are a million other things that can go wrong.
The whole rebuild in a year is fantasy. IF everything goes perfectly, anything can happen. But how often does a draft line up so that all your picks fill needs and all your picks contribute year one? How often do you not miss on any free agents after signing free agents to fill immediate needs? How often does a team rebuild in one year without setting up their cap over several years to give themselves a one year window to bring in an influx of talent?
I haven't said a single word in favor of them paying the 28 million. Everyone, including Peyton, knows that's not how this is going to go down, so let's give that strawman a dignified funeral at last. It's being reported at USA Today that the Colts can turn down the bonus on Thursday and still have until Friday to make a deal. I don't know whether that's true or not, but here's the link.:
Regarding the franchise tag, maybe they felt Garcon, the only other logical candidate, wasn't worth it. Not a crazy decision, maybe not great, but not crazy.
Do you think the Colts are going to glean new medical information in the next 72 hours, when they could have called Clark or Collie and gotten firsthand reports on Manning's progress? Maybe he has to undergo an official physical or something, but it makes little sense to drag this out. I think all this stuff points to Manning trying to stay with the team at a new and lower number. I think Nate said that we really only need a ton of cap relief this season. I'm probably superimposing my desire to get a bunch of drafts picks in return for the top slot because I think that is clearly the best move if Peyton is healthy, which I believe he will be.
I'm not sure what rule changes you're referring to. There was the defenseless receiver rule last season, when Peyton didn't play, and the Brady rule about contact below the knee. The chuck rule has been around a long time and I think and the contact to the head rule has as well. I do think other teams are emulating the model. Passing offense has exploded. The Colts and Manning opened the eyes of the rest of the league to the possibilities of this type of offense. Running and stopping the run is not the gold standard anymore.
But let's not get bogged down. My bottom line is the same. I think the recent activity means that Manning is coming back to the Colts at a cap friendly number, probably by the middle of the month. What they do with the draft, we'll have to see.
Regardiing paragraph one I disagree completely. I think they wany Mathis back regardless of Manning. And you sign him now before other teams can offer him. The tag emphasizes that he is not hitting the open market.
On the second paragraph I disagree twice. First, you dont cut Manning or sign Manning one minnute before you have to. Nothing in it for the team to do so and longer you wait the better your chance of getting a read on his readiness. I also disagree with the opinion that Indy gives him the best chance to win now. New coaches and new schemes that he is NOT familiar with. Better talent in some other situations.
Disagree with paragraph 3. Rules changes dictate that teams pass the ball. Every team knows it. Every team does it. Not emulating the Colts. And if every team is passing, it only makes sense to rush the passer. I think you are letting fandom influence the Colts influence on other teams. Teams cant do what Colts do because they dont have Manning.
Archie is hardly impartial
You dont know if Peyton is healthy or effective. You cant commit 28M on blind faith.. I still have not seen anything in the CBA that says the team cant watch him throw but everyone says it is the case so I guess they are right.
I think you are correct and I agree that if it is gonna happen, he will be cut and then give Irsay a chance to match any offer. I dont think it happens but if it does, that is only way I see it happening. My guess is some wild card (Dan Snyder?) ponies up enough guaranteed money that Manning cant say no.
The point I was trying to make all those posts ago is that resigning Mathis indicates the return of Manning. Whether you want to call it rebuilding or filling holes (if there's a difference) it's not going to happen without Manning. Otherwise, the Mathis signing was botched and the franchise tag was wasted. You would announce a Mathis resigning after the Manning farewell to take just the tiniest bit of heat off.
The Manning decision should have been announced by now. As everyone says, it's a no-brainer to cut him at his current number. I think they're working on a new lower number and trrying to be sure that the pieces are going to be there for Manning, probably at his insistence. What do we know about Manning? That he's a perfectionist in the pursuit of greatness. He stayed an extra year at Tennessee to try for a national championship, so I don't think he's primarily motivated by money. He just wants to win now. And the best place to do that is (maybe outside of SF) in Indianapolis, because of the familiarity of the personnel with the scheme and with Manning.
The Colts approach is being emulated around the league: Highly efficient passing and pressure on the QB. No one has done the first part of that better than Manning. And with Mathis, the Colts are securing the second part.
In light of the fact that Peyton has said he wants to play his whole career in Indianapolis and he thinks he's going to play in 2012. I think that listening to Archie has been the key. He may have been off the reservation with his comment that Luck and Manning together would be a suboptimal arrangement. That was quickly walked back. What we've been hearing from Archie since then has been about the contract loaded with incentives and Peyton is throwing with good velocity.
Colts fans should be happy that this situation has dropped into our laps. Maybe the Horseshoe is firmly lodged up our, well, never mind. This is up there with the Peyton and Edge back to back drafts. The absolute worst thing would be to keep Peyton and draft Luck. Bring back Manning, build the foundation for the future with the raft of draft picks, and let the good times roll. This is not an emotional or loyalty play. Let's win now!
I'm guessing the situation is that they cut him and have to wait until the 13th to resign him. Is that right on the technicalities?
@AJ_On the second part I was agreeing with you. On the first part, not so much. Pagano and Manusky are 3-4 coaches. They run hybrids off their base 3-4. Dungy did not play the cover two exclusively but does that mean he was not a tampa two (his flavor of cover two) coach? Why do I ignore what they say? Experience. I ignored the lies from Dungy. I ignored the lies from Caldwell . . . Polian, Irsay. Coachspeak involves BS. I think what they say is meant to reassure players who might be scared for their jobs. It might be to temper fan expectations. Do I believe they will run a lot of 4-3 the first year? Of course, especially if they cant improve on Mookie at NT. Do I believe they want to build a 3-4 base defense? Yup, as quickly as they can.
@18to88 Oh? Huh. Color me surprised; I thought I read somewhere that his was one of the biggest hits on the cap. Perhaps I just read that his salary was one of the largest and I mistook that for the cap hit.
Anyway, I stand corrected. And that does change things; suddenly, he's vulnerable. I'd still wish to keep him, but cap finances must be taken into account. If cutting him could make sense financially, then it must be considered, regardless of fans personal wishes.
@AJ_ Actually, it wouldn't be a bad cap hit at all to cut him. He only has one year left on his deal, so most of his bonus has been accounted for. They would save about $14 million, I think, this year by cutting him. It's actually a real possibility. He needs to renegotiate.
@18to88 And ignoring roster issues: They'll be ironing out the bumps from having all new coaches all around. That won't sink them, but little issues like a small misunderstanding during a game could conceivably cost Indy a game.
Although the flipside is also true: The coaching changes may also win them a bit more than if they had this exact same roster and Caldwell's staff. At least Pagano might be more amenable to going for it on 4th down when it's proper (*crosses fingers*).
And here's the outstanding question I toss out to everybody: How many years do we all think Freeney has left? His production slipped statswise last year, but I'm having trouble determining if that wasn't just statistical noise, problems elsewhere on the D, or truly him slipping a bit. My personal opinion is that he's still got it, but it's a valid question to ask.
I don't think Indy will cut him. That'll be a painful cap hit. On top of that, why get rid of a productive pass rusher? That's insanity. And I don't see him being traded because I don't see many other teams willing to accept that sort of contract. That leaves renegotiating to lower the cap hit. Wonder when and if we start hearing news about that.
@19>18 Why do people ignore the fact that Pagano himself has been on the record as touting the fact that he ran a 4-3 hybrid in Baltimore and has had 4-3 experience in the past? I'm not saying they won't be having 3-4 looks occasionally at first, and I certainly won't deny that it'll happen over time, but the fact remains that everyone seems to be under this impression that the Colts are making an immediate and drastic change to the front 7 of the defense. The resigning of a guy who's played with his hand in the dirt for his entire pro career is an indication that things will not change as fast as people are claiming; the praise that's been heaped on the other bookend is another. Anyone happen to remember Pagano's statement about Manusky, and how he's “...versatile within the scheme, 3-4, 4-3..." And how Pagano went on to explain that "It’s part of the philosophy of not trying to put a square peg into a round hole”?
Does that sound like immediate transition to a 3-4 to you?
They didn't hire a 3-4 coaching staff to coach a 4-3. They hired a flexible coaching staff that's not married to one scheme and has the flexibility to shape things to suit their personnel. And if that means some time under a base 4-3 with 3-4 looks, or a hybrid 3-4/4-3 that doesn't jettison the Colts strongest element of their defense, then I believe they'll do that. I just don't get why people don't see the fact that the new staff is on record as saying that they're flexible about scheme.
As far as the rest of your post: I'm not saying they'll rebuild immediately either. In fact, I'm saying that people are overstating the amount of change that's going to happen. The Colts definitely do need many of those parts, like CB and SS, and much of the reason I say the "rebuild" is overstated is because I don't think Indy will manage to land all those positions in the draft to begin with. Especially safety, since there aren't that many good prospects this year. It's because you can't nab everything in the draft and because Indy doesn't have a whole heck of a lot of cap room to spare that I say that people are overstating the extent of the "rebuild".
@19>18 @AJ_ @LSB02 The cap takes a massive jump up in 2013. Part of what caused the cap issues this year is that the cap didn't go up significantly for the first time in a decade. The cap spike, plus the loss of Freeney's insanely high contract (which might also still be renegotiated), means Indy will actually have a ton of cap room next year. Depending on what happens with Manning, Brackett, and Clark, they actually won't have any dead money, and very few large deals to account for (Mathis and Bethea).
If they want to play for 2013, they'll have no trouble doing so, even with Mathis's deal. 2012 is just not viable. Even if Manning comes back and is Manning, I can't see this team beating 8-8. The roster will just be way worse than 2011 or 2010.
I think the term "rebuilding" in this context means showing Peyton the door and drafting Luck. And also shifting modes of offense and defense.
I grant you that we do need uogrades in a lot of positions. Smart drafting with a lot of picks can build you up pretty quickly. Ask Jimmy Johnson.
I don't think you resign Mathis if you're going to rebuild. He costs a lot and may struggle in the transition to a 3-4. I love the guy, but to me, that's risky, more risky than bringing Manning back. I hope that they've decided to keep the outlines of the offense and defense in place (best players at QB and rushing the QB) and try to win a weak conference the next few years. Maybe the Mathis signing is a show of good faith to Manning that if he comes back at a lower number, the Colts will have a shot at it all. This is what might be going on and I admit that this is driven by my belief that keeping a healthy (or soon to be healthy) Manning at a smaller number is the smartest way to go.
As far as the percentages go, we don't even know what percentage Manning was in 2010. What if he was only 90% then? It's hard to imagine, but maybe 2012 would be his first pain free year in a while.
@TrueBlue87 Colts should sign Tamme to one of the three cap extension contracts.
@TrueBlue87 Don't know about Anderson--wouldn't mind it but the money is awfully tight.
Tamme is a priority. Receiving targets are slim right now and my hunch is that Clark is either asked to restructure or (more likely) cut. Garçon won't sign. Wayne may but it is a long-shot at this point. Tamme is a reliable target that the Colts badly need.
If he does happen to leave, I am sure gonna miss his muscle - downfield blocking & fighting through DBs (like DRC) for the YAC. Not to mention that fang mouthpiece.
The Colts had better be sure Mathis can fill the role of a stand up OLB, because on a 4-3 he is a real liability aganst the run, and teams will run at him in the 3-4 too.
@southdodger Teams ran at Freeney and Mathis because of the scheme, not because they couldn't tackle. To be more precise, teams would run at where Mathis WAS, not at Mathis.
Really excited about this re-signing, though, in all seriousness. We'll have enough change without losing our all-pro tandem of bookends (though I guess they won't be bookends in the truest sense next year if our D transitions as expected).