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Where is the Money Invested?

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The Indianapolis Colts have spent a lot of money in the Andrew Luck era. Where did that money go, and to which position groups?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

[Editor's Note: Please welcome Andrew Aziz to Stampede Blue.  He's going to be doing a few different things for us, and he starts off with this fantastic breakdown of the Colts cap and where their money is invested.  Please give Andrew a warm welcome.]

*Money figures are 2014 cap hits and with the current players on the roster (July 31)*

*If there are more than 10 players at the position group, only the ones with the 10 highest salaries are recorded*

Quarterbacks

Colts: $10,274,454

NFL Team Average: $12,179,254.90

Percentage of Colts' Salary Cap: 7.72%

Andrew Luck - $6,029,454

Matt Hasselbeck - $3,750,000

Chandler Harnish -- $495,000

The Colts currently have invested less than the NFL average in terms of paying their quarterbacks, but this is Andrew Luck in his rookie deal. In a couple of years, Luck will be receiving a new contract and he should be due somewhere between 22 and 25M. However, for the time being, they have little invested in the position and they could afford to spend more at other (more dire need) positions.

Running Backs

Colts: $5,618,848

NFL Team Average: $7,677,165.26

Percentage of Colts' Salary Cap: 4.22%

Trent Richardson - $2,252,708

Ahmad Bradshaw -- $855,000

Dan Herron -- $570,000

Stanley Havili - $570,000

Vick Ballard (IR) -- $531,140

Phillip Tanner - $420,000

Zurlon Tipton - $420,000

The Colts have invested much less at running back than the NFL average, but that can be attributed to having two rookie contracts. Once their contracts run out, those two players should receive bigger deals, but nothing too crazy. It only takes up a little over 4% of the cap and that's impressive considering how important running backs were and are going to be in the Colts' West Coast style offense.

Wide Receivers

Colts: $11,404,398

NFL Team Average: $13,482,517.52

Percentage of Colts' Salary Cap: 8.57%

Reggie Wayne - $6,166,668

Hakeem Nicks - $3,975,000

TY Hilton - $706,850

Donte Moncrief - $555,880

Da'Rick Rogers - $495,000

Griff Whalen - $495,000

Greg Moore - $420,000

Eric Thomas - $420,000

Tony Washington - $420,000

Jordan Harris - $420,000

Now, this number, along with the NFL Average, will only decrease after the final rosters are announced, and by that means that the numbers are relative. The Colts will still be smaller than the NFL Average after the final cuts are announced. The Colts pride themselves in having one of the best receiving cores in the league, but the impressive part about it is that they really haven't spent that much. The other top receiving units in the NFL spend 20+ million on their units, whereas the Colts are barely over 11 million. This low number is thanks in part to a ridiculously low cap hit from TY Hilton, who is still in his rookie contract. Once he gets his new deal, the Colts should be right around the NFL average or maybe a bit above it. However, when that time comes, Reggie Wayne won't be around. Either way, this is a talented unit and it doesn't hurt the front office's checkbook.

Tight Ends

Colts: $3,852,639

NFL Team Average: $6,679,433.55 243881458
Percentage of Colts' Salary Cap: 2.89%

Coby Fleener - $1,456,813

Dwayne Allen - $835,826

Weslye Saunders - $645,000

Jack Doyle - $495,000

Erik Swoope - $420,000

The Colts have good talent and depth at tight end, but as seen with the three previous positions, they also fall short of the NFL team average. This is thanks to the their top two talented tight ends being in their rookie deals. Once they reach new contracts in a few years, the Colts will be well over the NFL team average. However, for the time being they are quite under it and they can afford to take advantage of this by building up short-term support at need positions.

Offensive Line

Colts: $14,260,457

NFL Team Average: $19,994,660.90

Percentage of Colts' Salary Cap: 10.72%

Gosder Cherilus - $3,900,000

Donald Thomas (IR) - $3,750,000

Anthony Castonzo - $2,545,803

Joe Reitz - $1,431,000

Lance Louis - $742,500

Jack Mewhort - $649,782

Hugh Thornton - $641,345

Khaled Holmes - $600,027

Xavier Nixon -- $495,000

Ulrick John - $434,462

The Colts again come in way under the NFL average, but unlike the other offensive group positions, this group has struggled mightily in recent years. The other position groups are examples of having good value. This offensive line group is a good example of not spending enough or how not paying enough attention could cost the team. Nevertheless, the moves they have made this past year are an indication that they are on the right track with this group.

Defensive Line

Colts: $19,866,038

NFL Team Average (Teams w/ 3-4 Defenses): $17,779,220.93

Percentage of the Colts' Salary Cap: 14.93%

Arthur Jones - $5,600,000

Ricky Jean Francois - $5,125,000

Cory Redding - $4,391,667

Fili Moala (IR) - $1,600,000

Brandon McKinney - $570,000

Aaron Morgan (IR) - $570,000

Josh Chapman - $548,878

Montori Hughes - $545,493

Jeris Pendleton - $495,000

Tyler Hoover - $420,000

The Colts have spent a lot of money over the past few seasons on the defensive line, and the dividends are slowly paying off. The defensive line is slowly improving and with the addition of Arthur Jones this offseason, we could see it hit its highest point. Having a productive and efficient defensive line is crucial in a 3-4 defense and every great 3-4 defense has a great defensive line. They have spent very little money on their nose tackle position, but they've spent at their 5 technique spot and it's paying off. This group can impress this year.

Linebackers

Colts: $22,906,302

NFL Team Average (Teams w/ 3-4 Defenses): $19,135,258.67

Percentage of the Colts' Salary Cap: 17.22%

Robert Mathis - $8,750,000

D'Qwell Jackson - $4,750,000

Erik Walden - $4,250,000

Bjoern Werner - $1,794,635

Andy Studebaker - $730,000

Jerrell Freeman - $576,667

Mario Harvey - $570,000

Daniel Adongo - $495,000

Cam Johnson - $495,000

Josh McNary - $495,000

The Colts spend more than the average 3-4 NFL team in terms of linebackers, but they have a lot of quality. On top of having the close runner up in the defensive player of the year race, they also have D'Qwell Jackson and Jerrell Freeman, two talented and consistent inside linebackers, as well as Bjoern Werner and Erik Walden rotating on the other side (Werner will start with Mathis out for the first four games). This group saved the Colts many times last season and they'll be expected to play a key role. If they don't produce, the Colts will look silly on defense.

Cornerbacks

Colts: $17,689,333

NFL Team Average: $12,823,160.68

Percentage of the Colts' Salary Cap: 13.30%

Vontae Davis - $6,250,000

Greg Toler - $4,833,333

Darius Butler - $3,000,000

Josh Gordy - $1,431,000

Brandon Burton - $645,000

Johnny Adams - $495,000

Marcus Burley - $420,000

Qua Cox - $420,000

Sheldon Price - $420,000

Louchiez Purifoy - $420,000

The cornerback group has changed a lot in the past few seasons. Davis is at the top of the group after signing his big 4-year, 39 million deal. Davis is one of the better cornerbacks in the league and is very worthy of his contract. Toler is talented as well, but has a history with injuries. He has a big cap hit so he needs to stay healthy. Butler rounds out the top three with a reasonable cap hit. The rest have relatively small to tiny small cap hits. The Colts spend nearly 5 million more than the average NFL team, but they may not be more talented overall than the average NFL team. This remains to be seen, and this group will need to live up to its big cap hit.

Safeties

Colts: $8,905,000

NFL Team Average: $8,957,887.93

Percentage of the Colts' Salary Cap: 6.69%

Laron Landry - $4,750,000

Sergio Brown - $1,400,000

Mike Adams - $635,000

Colt Anderson - $635,000

Delano Howell - $570,000

David Sims - $495,000

Dewey McDonald - $420,000

The safety position is a big question mark for the Colts, and the talent level is relatively weak compared to other teams, yet they have spent the same amount as the average NFL team. Laron Landry is the only player with a good amount of NFL experience. The rest are unknown players. This group is the least invested group of all the defensive position groups, yet they are even with the rest of the NFL in terms of spending. Most of that investment has gone to Laron Landry, and he needs to stay healthy and perform.

Special Teams (Kicker/Punter/Long Snapper)

Colts: $5,770,000

NFL Team Average: $4,569,885.29

Percentage of the Colts' Salary Cap: 4.33%

Pat McAfee - $2,950,000

Adam Vinatieri - $2,250,000

Matt Overton - $570,000

The Colts have paid for quality here. Adam Vinatieri, despite his elderly age, is still a very productive kicker and worth every penny of that 2.25M. Pat McAfee is also an invaluable member, on and off the field. He's one of the best punters in the NFL and he will make a lot of tackles on special teams. Matt Overton has proven to be reliable and worth his cap hit. This group has proven to be worth every penny, despite the fact that the Colts invested about 21% more than the NFL average.

Colts vs. NFL Team Average Cap Hit Totals & Differences

Colts Cap Hit Total

NFL Team Average Cap Hit Total

Difference

Quarterbacks

$10,274,454

$12,179,254.90

+$1,904,800.90

Running Backs

$5,618,848

$7,677,165.26

+$2,058,317.26

Wide Receivers

$11,404,398

$13,482,517.52

+$2,078,119.51

Tight Ends

$3,852,639

$6,679,433.55

+$2,826,794.55

Offensive Line

$14,260,457

$19,994,660.90

+$5,734,203.90

Offense

$45,410,796

$64,671,331.73

+$14,602,236.12

Defensive Line

$19,866,038

$17,779,220.93

-$2,086817.07

Linebackers

$22,906,302

$19,135,258.67

-$3,771,043.33

Cornerbacks

$17,689,333

$12,823,160.68

-4,857,172.32

Safeties

$8.905,000

$8,957,887.93

+52,887.93

Defense

$69,366,673

$58,695,528.21

-10,671,144.79

Special Teams

$5,770,000

$4,569,885.29

-1,200,114.71

Total

$120,547,469

$123,277,436.57

+2,729,967.57

Overall Impression

The first thing that jumps out is how much is invested on offense versus how much is invested on defense. The average NFL team invests a little over 9% more on their offense (versus their defense). The Colts invests about 34% more on their defense, even though the offense consistently outperforms the defense game after game. With all the money invested in the defense, it's time they perform and start becoming a middle of the pack defense, instead of being a bottom of the barrel defense.

The second thing that stands out is how much the offense benefits from the rookie contracts. Andrew Luck, TY Hilton, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen are just a few players that are in their rookie contracts on offense, and that allows the Colts to invest in other positions (the defense especially). Once those contracts run out, there will be more of a balance (in terms of cap hit) between the offense and defense. Luck should be getting a massive contract somewhere between 22-25M a year in 2 years and the other 3 mentioned above should be getting at least a few million more a year than what they're making now.

The third thing that stands out is that the weakest position group on offense (offensive line) and the weakest position group on defense (safety) are have the biggest differences compared to other NFL team averages. It just shows that the Colts have not invested as much as other teams (on average), however it doesn't mean that there isn't talent at the position groups.

All in all, the Colts are one of the best teams in the NFL, yet they haven't spent as much as other teams (on average). It shows that this front office invests wisely and a lot of their best players are still in their rookie contracts, also indicating that they draft well. This team is progressing!

*All cap figures are provided by Spotrac*