According to PFF, the Indianapolis Colts are the league’s fourth best team ‘set up for the future’—trailing just the Houston Texans, Washington Commanders, and Tennessee Titans (wait, what?) respectively:
4. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS ($58.9M IN CAP SPACE)
The Colts don’t have quite as much cap room as the Titans, but given where quarterback Anthony Richardson was selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, they will be confident that they have the position figured out for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps they will look to make a splash on defense and add an impact defender like cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, who earned a 71.1 PFF grade with the Kansas City Chiefs this past regular season. But the biggest advantage of having so much cap room is that they can place the franchise tag on wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. as they look to keep him around long term.
For what it’s worth, PFF is also listing the Colts’ ‘effective cap space’ of $58.8M here, as they actually note the Colts with $62.8M of total salary cap space elsewhere. Each of the three teams listed ahead of them happen to also have more ‘effective cap space,’ meaning that appears to be a major factor for consideration in PFF’s top rankings here.
While I can understand placing the Texans with C.J. Stroud ahead of the Colts right now, given what he showed during his rookie campaign—particularly down the season’s stretch run. I take a big exception to both the Commanders and Titans being ranked ahead of the Colts given what each franchise offers comparatively at starting quarterback right now (*and no I’m not looking to get into a Richardson vs. Will Levis healthy debate, because quite frankly, there isn’t one).
It doesn’t matter to me that each team has a little more effective salary cap space or not.
In limited action, Richardson really flashed as a rookie and if not for a season-ending shoulder injury, likely would’ve been in the running for NFL Rookie of the Year honors along with Stroud and Los Angeles Rams wideout Puka Nacua by season’s end. Maybe Stroud still ultimately wins the honor outright, but I have to think Richardson would’ve at least been among the realistic finalists—especially given his impressive scoring output early on.
At any rate, with a lot of salary cap flexibility, and Richardson behind healthy center (along with soon-to-be 2nd-year head coach Shane Steichen, who’s one of the top young offensive minds in football), Indianapolis’s future does indeed appear very bright these days.