Regardless of who the general manager was going to be for the Indianapolis Colts in 2017, they were going to need to make some changes on the roster. But with Ryan Grigson out and Chris Ballard in, those changes might be more extensive than otherwise thought.
Ballard doesn’t have the same ties to these players that Grigson had, nor will he be as committed to all of them. We already saw him get his moves underway earlier today when he released veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, and that surely won’t be the only move Ballard makes either.
Right now, there’s one other really obvious name that likely will be cut: defensive lineman Art Jones.
Signed to a five-year, $33 million contract in 2014, it’s mainly been injuries to blame for Jones’ ineffectiveness. In three seasons with the Colts, Jones has played in just 17 games and started just eleven of them, winding up on injured reserve in each of the last two seasons. Furthermore, he missed the first four games of last season due to a suspension, so between that four-game ban and his numerous injuries he’s just had trouble staying on the field. He did start eight games in 2016 and recorded 30 tackles, but he wasn’t good enough to erase the memories of his many games missed.
Looking forward to 2017, Jones still has two years left on his contract and will have a $7.35 million cap hit next year, but the Colts could save $5.15 million by cutting him. It’s not like they really need the money (they’re projected to have somewhere around $55M available), but when considering the fact that they could save that money simply by cutting Jones - who hasn’t really produced nor stayed on the field - it makes a ton of sense. Add in to that the reality that Ballard likely won’t be nearly as tied to Jones as Grigson might have been and it seems very likely that Art Jones will also be a cap casualty this offseason for the Colts.
Outside of Jones, however, there doesn’t really appear to be another obvious candidate on the roster. There are some names that fans have mentioend, but I don’t really see any of them as likely. Here are a few of those names you’ll hear talked about, though:
- Cornerback Patrick Robinson was signed last offseason and will have a $4.5 million cap hit this year, which really isn’t bad for a starting cornerback (so long as he actually plays like, you know, a starting cornerback). The Colts could save $2.5M by cutting him, but with such minimal savings it makes the most sense to just bring him back.
- Another cornerback, Vontae Davis, could provide $9M in cap savings if the Colts were to cut him, as he’s entering the final year of his contract and will have a $10.25M cap hit. But he’s still one of the defense’s best players, and with so many other needs that Chris Ballard has to address this offseason it wouldn’t be the wisest thing to do to cut the guy who’s by far the best cornerback on the roster. It probably wouldn’t amount to much savings either, since the Colts would have to turn around and use that money on another starting cornerback. Considering all the other needs defensively, cutting Davis could wind up doing more harm than good in 2017.
- Tight end Dwayne Allen is also a guy who some fans have mentioned in this conversation, as he’s due just over $5.9M in 2017 and the Colts could save just over $2.9M by cutting him. Honestly, though, despite the fact that his contract was quite large when signed last year, the structure for this year isn’t bad at all and the Colts wouldn’t really save much by cutting him. The only way this makes sense is if Ballard loves Jack Doyle much more and could only re-sign him by cutting Allen to clear up space, but given Rob Chudzinski’s love for tight ends, given the Colts’ already large amount of cap space, and given the minimal savings by cutting Allen, Doyle’s contract shouldn’t be dependent upon Allen’s contract whatsoever.
- Running back Frank Gore is entering the final year of his contract with the Colts and is due $3.5M this year, and the Colts could save all of it by cutting him. But $3.5M for a starting running back is a really good deal, and Gore still produced in 2016. His contract won’t prevent the Colts from adding another back to complement the veteran, but it really doesn’t make sense for the Colts to part ways with Gore. They’re not in a tough spot financially and the savings from cutting Gore would be minimal. There’s more value there in bringing him back and pairing him with a younger back than in cutting him.
So honestly, though fans will want to talk about a number of these players, the only one I see the Colts cutting is Art Jones (though there will be other guys cut too, we’re just talking about the significant ones, particularly related to the cap). Outside of that, any of these moves would range from doubtful (Robinson) to shocking (Davis and/or Allen). So don’t expect them to happen. The Colts will have plenty of cap room regardless and aren’t in the position where they have to cut guys for cap space, and because of that they’re probably better off keeping a number of these guys than cutting them.