Best Value Contracts (Non-Rookie Contracts):
- Jabaal Sheard — 3 Years, $25.5M signed in 2017
- John Simon — 3 Years, $13.5M signed in 2017
- Robert Turbin — 2 Years, $2.7M signed in 2017
Sheard and Simon had significant impacts on the defense last year and actually made the Colts legitimate in many defensive categories, including 1st down run defense, in which they ranked #1 in the NFL. Sheard and Simon were the two best Colts defenders last season and for a combined average of 13M against the cap, that’s great value.
Robert Turbin is expected to have a larger role in 2018. When healthy, he has proven to be a very effective short yardage runner who picks up a lot of key first downs. As of right now, a healthy Robert Turbin is worth $1.35M per year; if his role expands and he’s able to add more value in the running game or even in the passing game as a blocker, then his value will skyrocket. Like the Mewhort signing, which will be discussed later on, this is the type of low-risk, high-reward type signing the Colts need more of.
Player with Most to Prove: Andrew Luck
Obviously, the man with the biggest contract on the team and at one point, the largest contract in NFL history coming off a missed season has a lot to prove. Will his shoulder be fully recoverable? Will he ever be able to pay the Colts back after they poured so much money into him? We will have to see...
2018 Free Agent Signing with the Most Questionable Contract: Ryan Grant
Ryan Grant was the number three receiver in Washington last season (after Crowder and Doctson) and the Colts valued him like a legitimate number 2 receiver at $5 million (for 1 season). Despite the fact that it’s a one year deal, so there’s very little harm if he doesn’t pan out, it’s still a risk as he might have a Kamar Aikan-type effect and negatively affect the passing game when he’s out on the field.
Grant has never put up #2 receiver numbers, so the Colts expecting him to do that this season is risky.
2018 Free Agent Signing with a Potential “Sleeper” Contract: Jack Mewhort
At just over $1 million for one season, Mewhort is a great value signing who can be effective when healthy. His issues over the past few seasons have not been play related, but rather injury related. If he can stay healthy and stay on the football field, he could prove to be a very valuable right guard for the Colts. If he can put in a full season and play like an average starter or better, then his value will at least triple and that’ll make Chris Ballard look like a genius. If he doesn’t pan out, then the Colts lose out on essentially nothing. This was a fantastic low-risk, high-reward type contract that, as mentioned earlier, the Colts need more of.
The Colts Salary Cap Situation
As it stands, the Colts have just over $52M in cap space.
The one thing that is concerning is that with the exception of Andrew Luck and the 2018 rookie class, the Colts have no players signed beyond the year 2021. This could mean a lot of instability and movement going forward and it could result in a very different looking team over the next couple of years, especially considering they’re only in the beginning phase of the Chris Ballard and Frank Reich era.
I expect that with a lot of salary cap flexibility over the next few seasons as well as a new regime and very few long-term commitments, the Colts will look very different in a couple of years.