The Colts have been quiet spenders in recent years, but with a ton of cap space plus the possibility of an uncapped season in 2021, the Colts could be in a position to go a little wild this offseason. If that’s the case, they can target some of the high end. Here are three potential targets for the Colts; these three players are likely to or are confirmed to be leaving their current teams and will hit the market. They also play a position of need for the Colts.
The Dallas Cowboys are in an extremely tough position with their salary cap as they have Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper as well as some others to re-sign. Byron Jones is almost certainly going to be a cap casualty, which will make him a very intriguing and sought-after free agent. Three comparable players to Jones would be:
- Xavien Howard — 5 years, 75.25M (15.05M average) with 46M guaranteed | Signed in 2019
- Xavier Rhodes — 5 years, 70.1M (14.02M average) with 40.826M guaranteed | Signed in 2018
- Trumaine Johnson — 5 years, 72.5M (14.5M average) with 45M guaranteed | Signed in 2018
If we consider salary cap inflation, the average of those three contracts would be a 5 year deal worth $79,600,000 with $48,110,000 guaranteed.
Jones is 27 years old, so a 5 year deal is most likely the minimum amount of term to which he’ll sign for. Jones is in very high demand and is currently expecting a contract between 16 and 18M per year. With the amount of demand what he expects his new deal to be, I expect his contract to be 5% higher than the projected average. I believe his contract projection will be:
5 years, $83,580,000 with $50,515,000 Guaranteed
Jadeveon Clowney might end up being the highest paid non-QB free agent in this year’s class. Clowney is an athletic freak pass rusher with good run stopping ability. Clowney has 32 career sacks, 54 hits, 190 hurries, 181 tackles for losses and 13 batted passes in 75 career games. He is 27 years old and entering the prime of his career. He will surely be one of the most sought after free agents in this year’s draft. The following three players will be used for contract comparison reasons:
- Demarcus Lawrence — 5 years, 105M (21M average) with 65M guaranteed | Signed in 2019
- Frank Clark — 5 years, 104M (20.8M average) with 62.305M guaranteed | Signed in 2019
- Trey Flowers — 5 years, 90M (18M average) with 56M guaranteed | Signed in 2019
If we account for the salary cap inflation, the average of those contracts will equate to a 5 year deal worth $105,650,000 with $64,811,217 Guaranteed.
Clowney plays an important position and with a lot of demand for him, I expect his projected contract to be 5% higher than the average of the three comparable. It’s for those reasons why I believe his projected free agency contract will be:
5 years, $110,932,500 with $68,051,778 Guaranteed
Quarterbacks are the highest paid players in the NFL and despite Rivers’ age (38 years old), he should get a nice contract. Three comparable player contracts would be:
- Drew Brees — 2 years, 50M (25M average) with 27M guaranteed | Signed in 2018
- Eli Manning — 4 years, 84M (21M average) with 36.5M guaranteed | Signed in 2015
- Ben Roethlisberger — 2 years, 68M (34M average) with 37.5M guaranteed | Signed in 2019
With salary cap inflation, the average of those three contracts equates to a 3 year contract worth $90,845,000 with $46,205,795 guaranteed.
Rivers will most likely sign a 2 year contract. The one key thing to take away from those four players is that Manning signed the contract at 35, Roethlisberger at 37 and Brees at 39. Rivers is 38 years and 4 months old. Two things need to be considered:
- Rivers’ numbers aren’t as strong as Brees’ or Roethlisberger and similar to Manning’s (when Manning was 35).
- The amount of demand for Rivers is not very strong.
It’s for those two reasons why I estimate he’ll receive a contract that’s about 10% lower than the projected average. That’s why I think his contract projection should be:
2 Years | $54,400,000 with $24,400,000 Guaranteed
The Colts are so Rich... HOW RICH ARE THEY?
The Colts are projected to have around $86M in cap space. That means that if the Colts sign each of these free agents and heavily front load the contracts at 20% over the average (which means their cap hit in the first year is 20% higher than the average of the contract), the Colts can afford to sign all three of these players and have around 7M left over. If the Colts then cut Brian Hoyer, Margus Hunt and Jacoby Brissett, that would give the Colts $23M left in cap space. If the Colts sign Anthony Castonzo to the contract I projected in my article back in December and slightly backloaded the contract (by 10%), that would leave the Colts with around $7M in cap space, which would be enough to sign all of their draft picks. If they found a way to trade Jacoby Brissett, that would leave them with around $14-15M in cap space after the Castonzo signing.
Before you all jump to attack me in the comments for this blurb, understand that I’m NOT advocating for all three signings and then front-loading the contracts, it’s just a mere experiment showing how much space the Colts have and how they can move a lot of pieces around and still have space left over.