Colts Roster Projection: How The Colts Will Comply With New Salary Cap Numbers

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 14: Kelvin Hayden #26 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball after intercepting a pass during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 14 2010 in Indianapolis Indiana. The Colts won 23-17. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

It was reported Thursday that both the Players Association and the Owners have agreed on a new salary structure for Rookies, as well as what the Salary Cap number will be for 2011, $120 Million. Also included in this will be a new, higher salary floor, and, from my understanding, that the salary cap will be in actual dollars spent, instead of all the games teams would play under the previous CBA.

Let me expound a little on that last point. Under the old CBA, teams could throw in incentives which would be virtually impossible to get, but that dollar amount would still count as "salary" under the cap. On the flip side, teams could spread out bonuses, so teams like the Redskins could go nuts signing Free Agents, but only part of that bonus would count against the cap, so the real money spent blew away the cap number, but due to the rules, it was all good.

With the new cap seemingly simplifying how the cap works, we can take a look at just how the Colts will comply with these new rules. What I've done after the jump is created my version of the 53 man roster for Week 1, including Colt Free Agents they should re-sign, other Free Agents they should sign (including some rookies), and attempted my best guess at what those deals would look like. I'll explain a little more my methodology after the jump. All salary data came from Spotrac, which is an excellent site for salary data.

Let's jump in...

I'm going to start with current Colts, already under contract, who I believe will make the 53 man roster. I've split them up into Offense / Defense, only to minimize the white space on the page.

Defense
First Last Pos 2011 Salary
Kelvin Hayden DB 8,600,000
Antoine Bethea DB 4,745,000
Justin Tryon DB 555,000
Jacob Lacey DB 480,000
Jerraud Powers DB 480,000
Chip Vaughn DB 405,000
Kevin Thomas DB 330,000
Dwight Freeney DE 11,420,000
Robert Mathis DE 2,410,000
Jerry Hughes DE 405,000
Fili Moala DT 480,000
Ricardo Mathews DT 405,000
Gary Brackett LB 2,000,000
Philip Wheeler LB 555,000
Kavell Conner LB 405,000
Patrick Angerer LB 405,000
Nathan Triplett LB 405,000
Jordan Hemby LB 330,000
Total 34,815,000
 
Offense
First Last Pos 2011 Salary
Jeff Saturday OL 1,950,000
Jamey Richard OL 555,000
Mike Pollak OL 555,000
Jacques McClendon OL 405,000
Jeff Linkenbach OL 405,000
Curtis Painter QB 480,000
Donald Brown RB 635,000
Mike Hart RB 555,000
Dallas Clark TE 4,200,000
Justin Snow TE 875,000
Jacob Tamme TE 555,000
Brody Eldridge TE 405,000
Reggie Wayne WR 5,950,000
Anthony Gonzalez WR 650,000
Pierre Garcon WR 555,000
Austin Collie WR 480,000
Pat McAfee P 480,000
Total 19,690,000

If you total that all up, it's 35 guys at $54,505,000, way below the salary floor, and not even halfway to the salary cap. What exactly does that mean? It means the Colts will have to spend some money, as Peyton Manning won't take all $65 Million (although, as you'll see, he could easily take more than half of that). You'll notice that I've kept Kelvin Hayden on the roster, but there is no Ryan Diem.

We can go back and forth on those two guys, but that's how I see it playing out. The Front Office used the first two picks in the 2011 draft on the Offensive Line, making Diem expendable. I think the staff likes Hayden and will give him another year. With both Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis becoming Free Agents at the end of the season, I think this will be Hayden's last year in Indy unless he turns in a Pro Bowl season, which I'll gladly take.

First, let's look at the rookies, as I can see all 5 draft picks making the roster. In looking at quite a few rookie deals, the actual salaries are quite low, almost at the minimum, even for first round picks. Here's a ballpark for the five rookie draft picks:

Rookies
First Last Pos 2011 Salary 2011 Bonus
Chris Rucker DB 320,000 150,000
Drake Nevis DT 335,000 600,000
Benjamin Ijalana OL 335,000 1,000,000
Anthony Costanzo OL 425,000 1,500,000
Delone Carter RB 335,000 400,000
Total 1,750,000 3,650,000

Costanzo's numbers are similar to Bryan Bulaga's contract, as he was picked just one spot lower in the 2010 draft, and plays Tackle. The others are based on previous draft picks picked around the same area. These clearly aren't scientific, and may be off by quite a bit, but I think they're reasonable. We're now at 40 players and $59,905,000, so there's still $60 million to play with, and 13 Free Agent players to go.

That's start with Manning. I feel pretty confident that he's going to get a 5 year deal, as we've heard several members of the Colts Front Office mention that is how many years they think he has left. He'll be 40 when his contract ends, and I have little doubt he'll still be worth it. I'm really just guessing, but I think he's going to average over $20 Million per year, which means over $100 Million. I went with $110 Million, but again it's a guess on the high end. He'd easily be the highest paid player in the league, and let's face it: he deserves that kind of money.

Because the Colts have so much space, I think the signing bonus is going to be quite large, which is why I put it at $25 Million, leaving $85 Million left. It seemed a typical scale is an increase in salary of 25% each year, so that's what the salary number is based on. I used that figure for all the multi-year deals. That leaves the Colts with roughly $25 Million in cap space left, where they must spend at least $13 Million to hit the floor.

How will the Colts spend that money? Here's what I think they should do:

Free Agents
First Last Pos 2011 Salary 2011 Bonus Years $ (Mill)
Joseph Addai RB 2,750,000 4,000,000 4 20
Eric Foster DT 700,000 300,000 3 3
Antonio Johnson DT 1,300,000 450,000 3 5.5
Charlie Johnson OL 1,250,000 750,000 3 5.5
Peyton Manning QB 10,350,000 25,000,000 5 110
Jamie Silva DB 500,000 1 0.45
Adam Vinatieri K 1,200,000 1 1.2
Free Agent DB 2,400,000 1,000,000 4 15
Free Agent DE 320,000 Rookie
Free Agent LB 450,000 2nd Year
Free Agent OL 335,000 Rookie
Free Agent QB 335,000 Rookie
Free Agent WR 1,750,000 600,000 2 4.5
Total 23,640,000 32,100,000

I have the Colts resigning six other former players besides Manning, including Joseph Addai, both of the Johnsons, Eric Foster (stay thirsty), Jamie Silva (I like his special teams play despite coming off the injury), and Adam Vinatieri on a one year deal. Again, the Colts need to spend a minimum of $13 Million, and they've always been more willing to give their own the big money rather than a Free Agent. These 6 guys cover the minimum $13 Million, so we've now hit the salary floor, but let's spend some more money on those last 6 guys.

As you see, I don't have names next to the positions, but I think those are the positions the Colts will go after. The Defensive Back is a Safety, and that should be enough to get a good player to play with Antoine Bethea. The Wide Receiver's salary was made with one player in mind: Plaxico Burress. I have to think that would be a deal Burress would take in a heartbeat, and it wouldn't kill the Colts. I don't have much heartburn if that money goes to the DL, LB, or the OL, but I think it is best used on a toy for Manning. I could see a couple of those other Free Agent spots given to Colts Free Agents, or obviously undrafted rookies.

So where does this leave the salary at for the Colts? $115,645,000, giving the Colts a little over $4 Million to work with, if they so choose. I actually think they won't go all the way to the cap, due to expiring contracts after this season.  As a finale, here's my full 53 man roster, with 2011 cap hit included.

Defense
First Last Pos 2011 Cap Hit
Antoine Bethea DB 4,745,000
Kelvin Hayden DB 8,600,000
Jacob Lacey DB 480,000
Jerraud Powers DB 480,000
Chris Rucker DB 470,000
Jamie Silva DB 500,000
Kevin Thomas DB 330,000
Justin Tryon DB 555,000
Chip Vaughn DB 405,000
Free Agent DB 3,400,000
Dwight Freeney DE 11,420,000
Jerry Hughes DE 405,000
Robert Mathis DE 2,410,000
Free Agent DE 320,000
Eric Foster DT 1,000,000
Antonio Johnson DT 1,750,000
Ricardo Mathews DT 405,000
Fili Moala DT 480,000
Drake Nevis DT 935,000
Patrick Angerer LB 405,000
Gary Brackett LB 2,000,000
Kavell Conner LB 405,000
Jordan Hemby LB 330,000
Nathan Triplett LB 405,000
Philip Wheeler LB 555,000
Free Agent LB 450,000
Total 43,640,000
 
Offense
First Last Pos 2011 Cap Hit
Adam Vinatieri K 1,200,000
Anthony Costanzo OL 1,925,000
Benjamin Ijalana OL 1,335,000
Charlie Johnson OL 2,000,000
Jeff Linkenbach OL 405,000
Jacques McClendon OL 405,000
Mike Pollak OL 555,000
Jamey Richard OL 555,000
Jeff Saturday OL 1,950,000
Free Agent OL 335,000
Pat McAfee P 480,000
Peyton Manning QB 35,350,000
Curtis Painter QB 480,000
Free Agent QB 335,000
Joseph Addai RB 6,750,000
Donald Brown RB 635,000
Delone Carter RB 735,000
Mike Hart RB 555,000
Dallas Clark TE 4,200,000
Brody Eldridge TE 405,000
Justin Snow TE 875,000
Jacob Tamme TE 555,000
Austin Collie WR 480,000
Pierre Garcon WR 555,000
Anthony Gonzalez WR 650,000
Reggie Wayne WR 5,950,000
Free Agent WR 2,350,000
Total 72,005,000

Who should fill those Free Agent spots, or where could the Colts better use the Free Agent money, even that extra $4 Million? Fire away in the comments.

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