The start of the 2012 NFL league year begins today at 4:00 pm ET. This also means the beginning of free agency.
Now, during the Polian years, the Colts treated free agency like it was some kind of rare disease. Part of the reason why they did this is Bill Polian was so paranoid that he despised signing players he had not personally drafted. If you all remember, Bill was perfectly content to overspend on free agents from teams he'd previously run. Remember Jeff Burris and Shawn King? Remember Chad Cota?
In recent years, the Polian Cartel stopped caring about free agency all together and, instead, focused on overpaying their own over-valued talent. It's a major reason why the Colts have spiraled down the hole of "Cap Hell" in recent years. Instead of overpaying for decent talent drafted by other teams, Bill Polian over-payed for the crappy talent he and his ill-equipped son drafted.
Thus, the Colts will carry roughly $38 million in "dead cap" in 2012, which essentially means they will not be working with a $120.6 million dollar salary cap in 2012, but rather a $82 million dollar one. This year's cap gets a bit of a boost courtesy of the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys, who were both found in violation of the "uncapped year" in 2010, and thus had significant portions of their 2012 cap taken from them and re-distributed to the other 30 teams in the league.
P.S.- Thanks Dan and Jerry!
So, it seems the Indianapolis Colts will be working with roughly $84 million in cap space this year, which means the team is probably going to stink. This is why we've seen management dumping players left and right. It's also the reason why Dwight Freeney will soon be playing for a team other than the Colts.
The positive is that, next year, most of this dead cap comes off the books. This means $40 mill in cap space. So, while the Colts probably won't be major players in free agency this year, next year they will be free agent pimps.
Here are they names of several Colts who are leaving via free agency (aka, not cut by the team):
- Reggie Wayne*
- Pierre Garcon*
- Jacob Tamme
- Anthony Gonzalez
- Dan Orlovsky
- Ryan Diem*
- Philip Wheeler*
- Jeff Saturday*
- Eric Foster
- Mike Pollak
- Jacob Lacey (restricted)*
* denotes starters
In addition to Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, Melvin Bullitt, Joseph Addai, and Gary Brackett being cut, the Colts are likely to lose an additional five starters to free agency. Keep in mind, most of the players leaving have spent a significant amount of time in recent years on the injury list. Also, should these free agents sign with other teams, as Wayne, Garcon, and Tamme are likely to do, the Colts will receive compensation in the form of additional draft picks in
To reinforce what many of you should already know, the Colts are starting over. I mean REALLY starting over. For me, it's the way a franchise should start over. Out with the old, in with the new.
Of the group above, I'd like to see Orlovsky and Wheeler re-signed. Orlovsky is a capable back-up, and Wheeler could thrive in Chuck Pagano's new 3-4 defense.
Follow along here and at SB Nation for more news and info regarding 2012 NFL free agency.