One of the things we try to do here at Stampede Blue is give readers an in depth look into the Colts organization, and someone that deserves a lot of credit but hardly anyone knows is Mike Bluem.
Pretty much everyone reading this right now is asking the question, "who is that?" Officially, he is the Colts' Director of Football Administration. Unofficially, he's what we call the Colts' 'capologist' - he works very closely with the salary cap and structuring that.
When he was hired in the 2012 offseason, here is what the team's press release said about him:
"Bluem spent the last 17 seasons in the Denver Broncos' organization (1995-2011), the last seven (2005-2011) as the team's Director of Football Administration. During his first five years with the Broncos, he was a College Scouting Assistant before being promoted to Coordinator of College Scouting Operations in 2000. The following season, Bluem was named Coordinator of Football Administration, which included additional responsibilities with Denver's salary cap. He held that position for five seasons before being promoted to Director of Football Administration in 2005."
At the time, most overlooked it as just another front office move. But now, we shouldn't overlook the job that he has done in helping to build this Colts team. Along with general manager Ryan Grigson, who also deserves a lot of credt, Bluem has done a great job at structuring contracts so that they don't hurt the Colts that much.
The Colts were able to cut Samson Satele this offseason and save a lot of cap room. Though they haven't cut either Ricky Jean Francois or Greg Toler and are very unlikely to, they could do so and actually save cap room, too. Vontae Davis, who the Colts just signed to a big contract, has a cap hit of just $6.25 million this season and, if he does terrible (which is unlikely), can be cut in two years and save the Colts cap room. He hasn't been perfect (see LaRon Landry or Erik Walden), but it's hard to blame that all on Bluem anyway and overall he has done a tremendous job. His role will become even more important in the coming years as numerous players will be due new (and large) contracts, such as Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton, among others.
Ryan Grigson has righty developed a reputation as a closer throughout the NFL, as when free agents visit Indianapolis they usually don't leave without a deal signed. Grigson has done a good job building this team and, in my opinion, has done a great job so far this offseason (provided they sign another center in free agency...). He deserves a ton of credit, but pair him with Mike Bluem - a very smart cap guy who knows how to structure contracts - and they make a pretty dynamic and effective team.
Say whatever you want about Ryan Grigson's moves as general manager, but one thing you cannot rightly is that the contracts have been structured wrong. You might disagree with the player himself or even the total contract he was given, but it's hard to disagree with the contract structures. Some didn't like paying Vontae Davis the big contract, but to have just a $6.25 million cap hit in 2014 is some pretty great contract structuring - and that's Mike Bluem.
So far this offseason, the Colts have re-signed Vontae Davis, Adam Vinatieri, Pat McAfee, Fili Moala, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Sergio Brown. They have signed Arthur Jones, Phil Costa, D'Qwell Jackson, and Hakeem Nicks. And yet still, the Colts have around $17-18 million in cap space, roughly. That doesn't happen unless Mike Bluem does his job well, and he has been doing just that - structuring contracts well in an effort to put the Colts in the best position possible. And for that, he deserves quite a bit of credit.
Not many people know who he is, but Mike Bluem too is having a very good offseason and is helping the Colts out quite a bit, and his role will only continue to grow in importance as several great young players are up for new contracts in the coming years.