The Indianapolis Colts announced a significant roster move today, releasing defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois. Like other moves that either already have been made or will be made later, the Colts made this move for salary cap purposes, as cutting RJF saves $4.875 million in cap room, according to Over the Cap.
RJF, who signed a 4-year, $22 million deal with the Colts in 2013, played in 26 games for the Colts over the last two seasons, starting 23. He recorded 47 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and six passes defensed. He lost his starting job after a disappointing 2013 season and after the Colts brought in Arthur Jones last offseason, but with Jones injured for much of the 2014 season, Jean Francois stepped in and started 13 games. Admittedly, RJF improved significantly in 2014 over 2013, and he was a solid rotational defensive lineman who provided good depth. But obviously, a cap number north of $6 million is too much to pay for a guy like that, thus the reason for RJF's release today.
What this also means is that a weak defensive line gets even weaker. It's clear that the defensive line must be an area the Colts address this offseason, with only one player (Arthur Jones) holding firmly to a starting spot. There are questions about whether Cory Redding will return or retire, and either way the Colts will need help along the defensive line. Furthermore, with the releases of LaRon Landry and Ricky Jean Francois, added to an already large cap space, likely drives the Colts over $40 million in cap room, depending on where the cap number officially comes in for the 2015 season. The Colts don't need to make these moves unless they're trying to create more cap space - but for what?
Perhaps these moves are just the Colts getting rid of players who didn't live up to their contracts, which is certainly possible and a credit to Ryan Grigson and Mike Bluem for the contract structure, but it also likely indicates that they're getting ready to spend and be aggressive in trying to make that final hurdle past the Patriots and to the Super Bowl.
We'll have to wait and see what the Colts actually decide to do with all the cap room, but we don't have to wait any longer wondering what the team will do with Ricky Jean Francois, as they announced the defensive tackle's release today.