The Colts didn't make any big splashes. After a disappointing 2015 free agent class headlined by Andre Johnson, the Colts took a big step back this year and that's why I declare them "big winners" after day 1 of free agency. So how can a team that didn't spend a nickel, be considered a winner? Because of the market.
In short, if you wanted to get a top notch free agent, you had to pay top, top money. With the Broncos winning the Super Bowl thanks to their defense, teams are rushing to pay good defensive players big money. Olivier Vernon, a respected edge defender and pass rusher in his own right, is going to make an average of 17M dollars a year after signing a deal with the Giants. That's more than JJ Watt. The Giants dropped nearly 200M dollars on Damon Harrison, Oliver Vernon and Janoris Jenkins. These major increases in free agency contracts are alarming. It's a good motivator as it will motivate you to stay away from free agency in the future.
Now of course, there are some good free agency signings and some bad free agency signings. The Colts had an ugly signing session last year, and were forced to restructure one contract and cut another big one. In 2011, the Philadelphia Eagles famously signed a ton of big free agents, many of whom did not pan out and none of those players are on the team anymore. Some of those big signings included: Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Vince Young, Ronnie Brown, and Ryan Harris amongst many others. Coincidentally, Ryan Grigson was the Director of Player Personnel that season. All these examples just prove to us that going crazy during free agency doesn't work out that well most of the time.
The quarterback, defensive line, cornerback and offensive line markets were all filled with overpaid, massive contracts. The fact the Colts did not indulge in those markets or any markets at all demonstrate a good amount of restraint and it shows that maybe they've changed their philosophy.
The Colts did have a few things happen today. Coby Fleener bolted to New Orleans for a nice 5 year, 36M dollar contract, which is essentially the same deal as Dwayne Allen's deal, but Fleener received an extra year. We knew from the beginning that the Colts pretty much had to choose between Allen and Fleener, so when they signed Allen, Fleener was as good as gone.
Dwight Lowery also departed for San Diego. Lowery's loss is more of a stinger. The Colts can definitely replace him, but because he played well last year, it would have been nice to keep him around. Clayton Geathers seems like a suitable replacement and if not, there are some mid tier options in free agency and plenty of guys available in the draft.
Moving forward, the only big free agent I feel the Colts should re-sign is Jerrell Freeman. I've been advocating for his re-signing for a long time and I believe he was the MVP on the Colts last season. The Colts have the money to re-sign him and he fits the defense very well. Having him walk away will make the inside linebacker position a big need. The Colts should not allow that to happen.
Current Cap Space
A big question many people are asking is how much cap space do the Colts have left? According to Spotrac, the Colts have 22.1M dollars remaining. If you consider the fact that they have 6 draft picks, that will most likely take up around 4M against the cap. That would leave around 18M left in cap space.