With the draft and free agency quickly approaching, Colts fans (including myself) are already predicting and speculating on who could possibly join Indianapolis in 2013.
But before we start predicting and wondering where the Colts will go, we need to understand exactly what the Colts are already paying for, and what the team's needs are. If you've been reading Olly Dawes' excellent pieces, you should already have an understanding of the holes the Colts have on both offense and defense.
With that at our disposal, let's take a deeper look at the cap breakdown for 2013 (brought to you by Spotrac), finding out exactly what the Colts are paying for next season, and where improvements can be made.
Andrew Luck- 1,394,909
Chandler Harnish- 480,000
After cutting Harnish earlier this season, the Colts resigned him to a future contract in January, a two-year, $1.05 million contract. There will also be a little over $34,000 in dead money from his original contract in 2013.
As for Andrew Luck, the Colts will once again get a fantastic deal out of the rookie wage scale, as Luck won't count for more than about $3.4 million against the cap until 2016.
The Colts don't need to add anything here, as it seems evident that they are looking to Harnish to be the backup for the future. They will likely bring in a body or two for training camp, but they shouldn't keep any more than the two necessary ones. I don't expect Drew Stanton will be re-signed.
Donald Brown- $2.72 million
Delone Carter- $661, 301
Vick Ballard- $516,140
Robert Hughes- $480,000
Alvester Alexander- $480,000
Davin Meggett- 405,000
The Colts signed Alexander and Meggett to future contracts in January, while Hughes was signed midway through the 2012 season to a three year contract. Ballard, Carter, and Brown are still on their rookie contracts, We still could see Deji Karim, a return specialist, back in Indianapolis, but the rest of the position is taken care of.
Reggie Wayne- $7.5 million
T.Y. Hilton- $616,750
LaVon Brazill- $400,670
Nathan Palmer- $480,000
Griff Whalen- $405,500
Jabin Sambrano- $405,000
Wayne is the only veteran on the roster, and the rest of the young group is extremely low-paid. This is one position that the Colts can afford to add a big name. If they choose to add a #1-type of guy like Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe, or Mike Wallace, they'll likely be spending in the $10 million per year range. If they get a guy like Hartline or Amendola, $7-8 million per year is more likely. The team definitely shouldn't have more than $20 million invested in the position in 2013.
Coby Fleener- $1,213,082
Dwayne Allen- $702,826
Wesley Saunders- $555,000
Dominique Jones- $480,000
With two solid starters and two decent depth options, the Colts are set at this position. They're getting great value out of Allen and Fleener's contracts, a big reason why they have room to spend at other positions.
Anthony Castonzo- $2,182,117
Benjamin Ijalana- $1,103,317
Justin Anderson- $480,000
Lee Ziemba- $480,000
Bradley Sowell- $480,000
Offensive tackle is definitely an area where the Colts need to sign another starter. Whether that means re-signing Winston Justice or picking up a tackle in free agency or the draft, something needs to happen. Nobody by Castonzo is proven at tackle, and the Colts need to shore up the position. One option that has been mentioned is Sebastian Vollmer, who likely would cost $7-9 million per year. I would hope that the final roster isn't made up with more than $15 million committed to offensive tackle.
Mike McGlynn- $1,725,000
Robert T. Griffin- $405,000
*Joe Reitz- $630,000
I list Reitz here, because he's an exclusive rights free agent for the Colts, and will most likely be offered a contract worth at least 630k (the third-year veteran minimum). But even if he's kept, the Colts absolutely need an upgrade at guard, whether it's via free agency or the draft. If they go to free agency, they need to look for an immediate starter, such as Andy Levitre ($9-11 million per year) or Louis Vasquez ($7-9 million per). I would not spend more than $13-15 million on the position overall, and that's dependent on how you list the tackles and guards.
Samson Satele- $3,866,667
It's unclear if A.Q. Shipley is a restricted free agent or an exclusive rights free agent (I've seen places categorize him as both, and which years count for his service in the NFL is unclear), but either way it shouldn't take much to re-sign the reserve center (one million or less per year). The Colts need to have something else besides Satele, but blowing a lot of money on another free agent center won't happen. I'd advocate for Shipley to give Satele some competition, and at worst, have a solid depth guy behind Satele.
Overall, I would not spend more than $25 million or so on the offensive line in 2013. Of the $46 million in cap room this offseason, I would, personally, only use $20-25 million at most. There are simply too many holes on the defensive side of the ball to go without using a significant amount of the cap room on defensive side of the ball.
What about Donny Avery? There is a lot of upside in keeping Donny Avery. Avery did not play in 2010 after a preseason knee injury with St Louis. Avery saw little action with the Titans in 2011. Yes, in 2012 Avery did suffer a higher than desired percentage of drops, even more than the rest of the colts rookie dominated receiving staff. But is it just possible that Avery was understandably the most rusty. All colts receivers including Wayne would have benefited from more off season work out time with Luck that was limited due to his Stanford graduation commitments. Marcus Pollard and Barry Krauss, yes I know Colts media, seemed to think Avery especially would improve with a second year as an Andrew Luck receiver.
The Colts should be able to retain Avery with a more than reasonable contract. Ok, Avery is nobody's idea of a number one receiver. Still Avery was one of Grigson's stand out acquisitions . But with all the needs on defense, a quality 3-4 does not come cheap, and along the offensive line, why blow mega bucks on an overpriced big name receiver? I can not see signing Danny Amendola either. Why not just go out and find and develop your own late round or free agent receiver prodigy? Every year there is an Amendola, Welker, Garcon, Austin, Edelman, Short.... out there. If your GM has credibility, executive of the year should do, or if you're a Belichick, or Jerry Jones, you are able to look past the off season desires of the fan base and sports talk radio for big name fantasy football favorite over priced receivers. Grigson should be able to reserve a roster spot or at least several practice squad positions for quality undrafted free agent receivers dying to be on a team with Andrew Luck
Build a quality offense line, and with Luck's abilities to read defenses, look off safeties, and extend plays with his mobility, Colts receivers will get open. With an anticipated increase in reception percentage the Colts should have a very potent pass offense.
At the very worst, Avery should be a bit better version of last year. With a reasonable contract and a little luck, the Colts could always use Avery as trade material before the 8 week deadline. In the meantime the Colts will have a Hilton able to step up in the #1 position and another later round/UDF receiver ready to take a place in the rotation.
I am not one for signing Amendola or Hartline, but Avery could be added to that group, as far as drops that is one thing, but you have to remember that he was never really a possession guy, he was drafted so high due to his ability to spread the field, with T.Y. here now there is less of a need to keep a guy like that, especially when we could allocate money to a guy who can potentially become a #1 guy.
Avery was awful for the Colts this year. His play is one of the biggest factors that held Luck back this season. "A bit better" version isn't good enough. The Colts need a starting WR.
I know the Colts have plenty of cap room, but my goodness does $3,866,667 seem a lot for Satele. Is his money guaranteed?
@DougEngland I mean it seems like a lot because he played so poorly, but he was solid in Oakland, if unspectacular, and his contract is actually something like 20th in the NFL for centers, so it's not like he is getting top level money. He was paid about what the market would have dictated based on his play for the Raiders. I still think he can redeem himself, it's no unprecedented for a player to have a down year when fighting through chronic injuries. Either way I think the Colts keep him around, having better guards on either side of him should help his play as well, one would think.
@Colt_Following @DougEngland I was just so underwhelmed by his play, when he was with Oakland he was solid at times, good at times and horrible at others, I think he showed us two of those this year. I am not totally against the signing because last year we were in a bit of a crunch, but man I wish it would have been two years.
I honestly could see him getting cut after this season, especially if we get someone in the draft like Johnathan Cooper, or someone later like Khaled Holmes who ends up showing potential next year, I mean Shipley beat him out in my view, so I think there is a good possibility that others could/will as well.
@DougEngland $5 mil of the $10 million contract was guaranteed. Next year, Satele counts as over $5 million against the cap. Joy.
@DougEngland Especially for a part time, below average player. If Castonzo ends up being the only remaining starter from 12 it would be a great off season.