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What Stephen Reed Would Do with the Current Roster If He Were Colts GM Ryan Grigson

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Stampede Blue's Stephen Reed gives insight as to what he would do if he were GM of the Colts with the current roster.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

So in one of my first articles here at Stampede Blue, I tried to predict what the Colts would do in the draft based on patterns I noticed in Colts GM Ryan Grigson's draft strategy. While I wasn't perfect, I was still pretty accurate. In this article, I'll try to get into Grigson's head again. In this three-part series, I'll give some examples of what he should do in this off-season and what he likely will do, which obviously don't always coincide.

Going into this off-season the Colts have roughly $39M in cap space after wisely cutting Laron Landry [UPDATE: it's up to $43 million now after the release of Ricky Jean Francois, according to Over the Cap). This means the team has quite a bit of money to spend. It doesn't take an "insider" to recognize that Ryan Grigson will likely be very active in free agency given his track record.

Free Agency

Potential Cap Casualties

First, we have to look at the Colts current roster and "trim the fat" of guys that should be cut.  Cap savings are courtesy of Over the Cap.

  • Trent Richardson - Ryan Grigson may as well have packed Trent's bags for him. I've defended Trent and Grigson on this trade in the past but couldn't anymore after such a horrific year. Trent deserves to be cut and Grigson deserves to take more heat for this trade. 
    Cap Savings: $3.18M
  • Ricky Jean-Francois - RJF has failed to live up to expectations after signing a huge contract a few years ago. It was surprising when it happened but many fans had hope he'd be more than just a solid rotational defensive lineman. He hasn't. While he played better this season, I'd prefer the team give playing time to Montori Hughes and Zach Kerr than spin their wheels with RJF. However, I doubt Grigson moves on from RJF. [UPDATE: Shortly before this article was published, the Colts indeed did release Ricky Jean Francois.  In other words, Grigson is 1-for-1 in doing what I would have done!]
    Cap Savings: $4.875M
  • Donald Thomas - Thomas has been an absolute bust since coming to the Colts from New England. This signing did not make sense when it happened and it doesn't now. Grigson chose to invest in Thomas, who had an injury history prior to signing with the Colts, and pass on Louis Vasquez, a Pro-Bowl OG, while both players got similar contracts in terms of average salary and guaranteed money. Hopefully, Grigson moves on from Thomas.
    Cap Savings: $3.25M

The total cap savings of these guys that absolutely should be cut comes to about $11.3M, which would put the Colts up over $50M in cap space for next season.

Next up are the guys that could be cut:

  • Erik Walden - Grigson's supposed edge setter has failed to consistently set the edge. The reason he's on the fence for me is his surprising ability to get after the QB last season. Oddly enough, the Colts may be better off placing Bjoern Werner on the strong side and letting Walden come in on rushing downs. This one is a toss up on what Grigson will do but I'd cut him.
    Cap Savings: $3.75M
  • Greg Toler - Somehow Toler has become a lightning rod of controversy in the Colts community. If you watch his tape from the past two season, he's been maddeningly inconsistent. The only consistent aspect of his game is getting beat deep and getting unnecessary defensive holding penalties. However, he improved late in the season and despite my better judgement, I'd likely keep him for the last year of his contract because he'll likely have greater incentive to bank on his next contract. I'd bet Grigson feels the same way.

Adding Walden's cap savings while keeping Toler on the books gives the Colts around $53M in cap space, which sets Grigson up quite nicely entering veteran free agency.

Veteran's to be Re-signed

With about $53M in cap space, Grigson should re-invest in some of his own players, just like the great franchises generally do.

Here are some guys the Colts must resign:

  • Mike Adams - Adams played admirably this season for the Colts and was one of the lone bright spots at the Colts safety position. He's obviously at the end of his career so he's not likely going to want a huge contract but will demand an increase given his Pro-Bowl season. My guess is he'll come back for 2-3 years with an average yearly cap hit of $3M. 
    Cap Spent: $3.0M
  • Darius Butler - Butler has played very well as the Colts slot CB over the past few seasons and should be rewarded for his accomplishments. He'll probably receive a similar contract to the one he signed when he came to the Colts.
    Cap Spent: $2.0M
  • Sergio Brown - Sergio filled in admirably for Laron Landry during the season but proved to be not much more than a solid backup and quality ST guy. He won't demand much on the open market so I'd bring him back.
    Cap Spent: $1.25M
  • Colt Anderson - Anderson has been a great ST player for the Colts and deserves to stay with the team long term, especially since he'll be fairly inexpensive to keep around.
    Cap Spent: $1.25M
  • Andy Studebaker - Studebaker, like Brown and Anderson, has been a great ST player for the Colts and has helped the team become a solid at an aspect of the game they never had been before. 
    Cap Spent: $1.25M
  • Joe Reitz - Reitz is a true swiss army knife kind of player. He's able to sub in at a moment's notice but may never be a long term option for the team.
    Cap Spent: 1.25M
  • Matt Overton - Similar to Pat McAfee, Overton has become a key figure in the Indianapolis community. He's also a Pro-Bowl long snapper but likely won't cost a lot of money to extend.
    Cap Spent: $1.0M

With these guys, the Colts spend about $11M of their projected $53M cap space. But that doesn't account for the players the team has to tender as well.

  • Jerrell Freeman (RFA) - The Colts will obviously at least tender Freeman with no other option at ILB on the roster.
    Cap Spent: $2.35M (2nd Round Tender)
  • Boom Herron (ERFA) - Boom Herron will cost the Colts the minimum salary to retain his rights for another year so it's likely they'll keep him around after a solid final portion of the season.
    Cap Spent: $0.6M
  • Daniel Adongo (ERFA) - I don't think Grigson gives up on Adongo just yet after showing some promise in TC last year. He's also a very cheap project to keep on the roster.
    Cap Spent: $0.6M
  • Cam Johnson (ERFA) - Same as Herron and Adongo, too cheap not to keep on the roster to see if he can develop.
    Cap Spent: $0.6M

Adding the tendered players to the equation, the Colts will now have spent about $15.15 of my projected $53M in cap space, leaving the team with $37.85 left to spend.

The next group of players are guys the team will hope to be back but may retire:

  • Reggie Wayne - Wayne will likely be offered a contract to return to the Colts but it won't be for much. His production diminished greatly down the stretch and he had some uncharacteristic drops. However, if Grigson can convince Reggie to come back, he'd be a great addition to the WR corps in terms of teaching Moncrief and Carter how to better play the position. That's value enough for me.
    Cap Spent: $2.0M
  • Cory Redding - Redding didn't seem to slow down a bit this past season, being the most consistent defensive lineman for the Colts. If he were to come back for a season or two, it would be even more evidence why the team should move on from RJF. I think Redding is convinced to give it one more go and signs for at least another year.
    Cap Spent: $4.0M

Assuming all these things happen, the Colts could potentially have $31.85M to spend to bring in other team's veteran free agents.

In the next article in this series, I'll address what I think the Colts should do in veteran free agency, so stay tuned, but first, what do you think of the moves with the Colts' own current roster?