Say what you will about Colts G.M. Ryan Grigsons decisions in free agency - because he hasn't exactly been batting 1.000 in that area - but if there's one thing he's done a good job with it's structuring contracts. While players like Greg Toler and Ricky Jean Francois haven't exactly been world-beaters, their contracts allow for the Colts to, literally, release them right now and free up several millions in cap space.
Grigson also did a good job structuring cornerback Vontae Davis' new contract as well, which was reported as a 4-year deal with $39 million with $20 million guaranteed. IndyStar.com's Mike Chappell reports on how the contract will affect Indianapolis' cap over the next few years:
#colts Davis caps: 6.25 mill ('14), 11.25 mill ('15), 8.25 mill ('16), 10.25 mill ('17). 4 yrs, $36 mill. Incent. for $3 mill in final 2 yrs— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) March 14, 2014
Thus, the initial contract is actually for $36 million with an incentive for $3 mill in the last two years. Tom Pelissero of USA Today follows up:
Vontae Davis' deal with #Colts: 4 years, $36M. Gets $10M in first year. A $5M roster bonus due next March will be fully gtd next week.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 14, 2014
Based on these numbers, the contract appears much better than how it seems when first reported. I still think it's too much for a player as inconsistent as Davis, but a $6.25 million cap hit in 2014 is not much, and as the salary cap continues to increase each year - as many project that it will - the hit is less and less. By 2016, when Andrew Luck will be a free agent, Davis will count $8.25 mill against the cap. If Davis completely goes into the tank, the Colts can release him in 2016 and actually save roughly $5.75 million.
Basically, this is a two-year deal, with most of Davis' money given to him in 2015.
The big positive here is it seems to give the Colts continued cap flexibility, which, at the end of the day, is all I care about. After seeing these numbers, and following the Colts' acquisition of wide receiver Hakeem Nicks for a one-year, $3.5 million contract, the Colts appear to have roughly $14 million left in cap space to spend on free agents. That's still a good amount for Grigson to work with.