From his first days as Colts General Manager, Chris Ballard has been transparent, and sometimes even repetitive, about his approach to free agency. “Eventually what you would like to happen is you are paying your own guys”, and with big paydays awaiting some Colts in the next couple of years, it makes sense to start saving up some cash. Players like Anthony Castonzo (‘19), Ryan Kelly (‘19 but there is 5th-year clause), Ebron (‘19), T.Y. (‘20) and Luck (‘21) are gonna require some major paychecks if the Colts plan to bring them back.
Ballard has alluded to the fact that this is a “three-year process”, but he would be more open to bring in bigger names once the Colts were closer to contention. The franchise seemed to take a huge step forward last season with an amazing draft haul and they are now projected as a top 10 team who some believe have the talent to be a playoff contender.
This series will review some of the top talent set to hit free agency and determine whether each of those players makes sense for Chris Ballard and the Colts.
DeMarcus Lawrence, DE Dallas Cowboys
NFL franchises tend to leave around $10-15 million in cap room as they head into the draft to pay rookie salaries. I control for rookie salaries when I analyze a team’s free agency budget. Given where the Cowboys sit, I expect Lawrence to be re-signed, even if it means re-working other contracts to get it done.
Dallas has an estimated $55 million ($40 million for FA) in cap space, ranking 10th in the NFL. They don’t have to re-sign many guys in-house, but there are rumors that Jerry Jones wants Earl Thomas bad. Thomas appears to want a multi-year contract that would put him at, or near, the top annual earners at his position. This would require a 3-4 year deal worth between $40-53 million.
If the Cowboys do sign him, they would have around $27 million left. Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack reset the pass-rusher market last off-season with contracts that paid $22.5 and $23.5 million APY (average per year). I doubt that Lawrence will be paid that much, but it does seem reasonable for him to ask for money in the $19-21 range.
If all else fails, they can tag him again.
The probability of Colts signing: Very Low
Next free agent to take a look at? (Tell me other’s you want in the commnets)
This poll is closed
Frank Clark, DE Seahawks
Ronald Darby, CB Eagles
Kevin White, WR Bears
Le’Veon Bell, RB Steelers
Adrian Amos, FS