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Colts staying the course in free agency with eyes on the draft

Wild Card Round - Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

I’ve been going back and forth with bellyaching Colts fans thus far in the off-season prior to the Colts’ next trip to the Super Bowl in 2019 (called shot). I came up with a thought exercise to get you through this apparently “unbearable period of time” in which the Colts barely make a peep in free agency. Keep in mind that we’re just looking at a player’s base salary instead of cap hit for reference because it’s all about guaranteed money. Understand that yes, we could dive deeper into the exact financials of any deal to see if it would have been reasonable, but I’m not here to debate roster bonuses and performance bonuses as some sort of out to the argument. Let’s leave those at the door.

Can you name one free agent that you’d pay more than T.Y. Hilton to come play for the Colts?

If you said “Of course not. T.Y. is the linchpin of the offense and our most reliable and consistent play-maker. He’s Andrew Luck’s favorite target. What kind of question is that?”

Good answer.

His salary is $13 million for 2019. That eliminates guys like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, right? If you ever thought for one second that there was a chance “the price is right” for either of them, consider that both of them just got paid more per year by their new teams than T.Y. will this year. Nothing says loyalty than making sure your own home-grown stars are your highest earners.

Let’s move on to the next example.

Can you name one free agent that you’d pay more than Andrew Luck gets paid this year?

If you answered “Of course not, Jared. He’s our Captain. Our franchise quarterback. A once in a generation talent. What kind of idiotic question is that?”

Well, his salary is $9 million for 2019. That basically meant no Trent Brown, C.J. Mosley, Kwon Alexander, Mitch Morse, or Tyrell Williams. I’d also argue that $9 million number for Luck means no Bradley Roby, Sheldon Richardson or LaMarcus Joyner either, right?

What kind of slap in the face to a guy like Luck would any of those signings have been?

Can you name a free agent you’d pay more than Anthony Castonzo?

If you blurted out “What are you thinking? He’s our anchor tackle. Without him, we’re toast on offense”, well... yeah you’re still right. Right?

This is where we could argue about the fine line between upgrading the team and muddying the roster. Castonzo’s $6 million salary means no Ja’Wuan James, Tashan Gipson, Golden Tate, John Brown, Za’Daruis Smith, Earl Thomas, Cole Beasley, Jamison Crowder, Trey Flowers, Rodger Saffold, C.J. Uzomah, Preston Smith, Jordan Hicks, Kareem Jackson, Robert Alford, and no, the Colts weren’t in on Tyrann Mathieu either.

Someone in the comments will bring up Devin Funchess and I’ll calmly remind you that his salary is $3 million. Another will bring up Pierre Desir, but his base salary is $1 million. Thanks for playing, though! Roster bonuses and performance bonuses are not guaranteed money.

Our beloved GM Chris Ballard has said time and time again that the Colts are not going to take a shot on a high value free agent. The Colts are going to build through the draft and use free agency to fill holes caused by injury. If your head is spinning, consider that 7 of these free agents that have signed for more money per year than Anthony Castonzo are 30 years old or older.

Did you know that if you take Adam Vinatieri out of the equation, the Colts have the youngest roster in the NFL?

Think about that. What logic is there in trying to sign players you’ll have to pay more than your current stars if your general manager has said he isn’t a fan of spending big on free agency and that his intent is to grow his own and build through the draft.

I understand the possibility that if you don’t pay free agents now, you’ll struggle to do so in the future. Methinks consistently winning while organically building your roster will have a net positive effect on your team’s ability to draw free agents in the future. I imagine that the Colts interviewed several potential free agents and decided it’s probably better to get younger instead of attempting to “pay to win”.

Think about the teams doling out big dollars for free agents so far. Oakland? Cleveland? Both New York teams? Perennial winners? Nope. I’d argue John Dorsey knows what he’s doing, Dave Gettleman must be trying to get himself fired or run out of town, Mayock/Gruden are somewhere in between the other two GMs here and the jury is still out on Mike Maccagnan.

I’d be interested to see what you think about this thought exercise. Does this make sense? Does this ease your mind a bit? Let me know what you think in the comments.