Colts general manager Ryan Grigson truly screwed the pooch on last season's free agent signings, passing on playmakers like Cliff Avril (who we advocated the team sign) and instead giving big money to scrubs like Erik Walden and LaRon Landry.
However, even though Grigson bungled free agency, he did not break the bank. By structuring contracts in the manner that he did, and signing certain players (like Darrius Heyward-Bey and Ahmad Bradshaw) to one-year deals, the Colts are in great position in 2014 to right more than a few of their wrongs from last year's free agent spending spree.
Finally got around to crunching some numbers. I have the #colts with 59 players under contract with top 51 counting $92.135 million— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) February 11, 2014
That means #colts have approx. $33.46 million space under $126.3 mill salary cap. Room to do something(s).— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) February 11, 2014
Chap's info is consistent with what Spotrac.com has posted. The Colts have the second-most cap room in the league, only behind Oakland's nearly $60 million. If Grigson also releases veterans like Samson Satele, Greg Toler, and Ricky Jean Francois, the Colts' free cap goes up near $50 million.
As we've said before, and will say consistently going forward, the Colts have a two-year window to win a Super Bowl as their roster is currently constructed. Mike Wells of ESPN also acknowledges this, saying:
Don’t be surprised if the Colts leave some of their cap space unspent. They have to plan ahead and be prepared to pay franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck is headed into the third year of his four-year contract.
"You have to be smart about it," Grigson said. "We're always forward thinking. Before we make any type of move, [we] are looking down the line. Because you don't want to hamstring yourself and you don't want to lose your franchise."
The "franchise" Grigson is referring to is quarterback Andrew Luck, who, when he enters free agency in 2016, will most certainly get a contract bigger than the one Joe Flacco received last season. Once Luck is given this money, Grigson (or whoever else is doing Grigson's job in 2016) won't have the luxury to blow $16 million on "edge setter" players like Erik Walden.
Truth be told, Grigson really doesn't have the luxury now. He must hit home runs with players he brings in this offseason in order to offset the numerous roster deficiencies the Colts currently have.