The future is bright for the Colts, but what’s best right now is with their star young quarterback Anthony Richardson on a rookie deal, the Colts don’t have to worry about a massive quarterback contract taking up so much cap space.
With the Colts not having to worry about a massive deal yet, what can they afford to do with the salary cap? Do they even have a lot of space? Can they keep their current stars and upcoming free agents under contracts for awhile?
Current Cap Space
According to Over the Cap, the Colts currently have 75M in cap space for 2024, if we include rollovers.
Potential Key Free Agents
The following players will be free agents in the 2024 offseason barring an extension and next to their names are what I believe their average annual value (based on my analysis which is based on the related players in the market):
- Grover Stewart - $13M
- Michael Pittman Jr - $17M
- Kenny Moore - $7M
- Gardner Minshew - $8M
- Tyquan Lewis - $3M
- Julian Blackmon - $6M
- Zack Moss - $3M
- Rigoberto Sanchez - $3M
- Taven Bryan - $3.5M
Total — $63.5M
The Colts aren’t going to re-sign all of these guys, but they will most likely look to retain Pittman, Stewart and Minshew at the very least which will be close to 40M right there. It’s safe to assume that after Moore became disgruntled with the Colts that he probably won’t be sticking around next year. I would also throw in Taven Bryan as unlikely to return unless his play in the 2nd half of the year improves.
Potential Cap Casualties
- Shaq Leonard - $16.1M in cap savings
- Mo Alie-Cox - $5.9M in cap savings
While you can include Ryan Kelly, the offensive line group isn’t the strongest as it is and losing him would just further deplete the group.
How Much will the Colts have to Spend?
If the Colts are to re-sign Stewart, Pittman, Minshew, Lewis, Blackmon, Moss and Sanchez (players who I believe are worth re-signing), then that means the Colts probably need to spend $53M in 2024 to keep them.
Last season, the Colts needed to spend close to 10M on draft picks, so while the Colts probably won’t have the 4th pick this next draft, we can assume that they’ll have to allocate at least $8M to their draft class.
So if you did a bill, it would look like this:
- $75,000,000 — Starting space
- $53,000,000 — Money spent on retaining key free agents
- $8,000,000 — Money allocated to 2024 draft class
- $14,000,000 — Remaining cap space (estimate)
What can you Buy?
Ballard and most general managers like to keep at least $3-4M for in-season transactions so that leaves him with around $10M to spend in free agency, which means even if he releases Mo Alie-Cox to free up nearly $6M, he won’t be able to go for any big fishes (although he rarely goes for big free agents), but will also be limited to just a few middle-of-the-pack signings. He might be able to only afford one or two Samson Ebukam type of players.
So while the Colts can’t go out and get star players (which I would argue rarely works in free agency anyways), they will be able to add a couple of quality players to hopefully shore up weakers areas on top of getting new talent through the draft.
These next 3 years are crucial for building a consistent winner since the Colts can afford to go after more quality players with Richardson still under a rookie deal. It will be tough for them to fully take advantage, but they are building things the right way.