Breaking Down Indianapolis Colts' Salary Cap Situation Ahead of the Offseason

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIJanuary 2, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 15: Head coach Chuck Pagano of the Indianapolis Colts looks up in the stands during the game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Indianapolis defeated Houston 25-3. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Before the 2013 season, the Indianapolis Colts had plenty of salary cap space to spend in order to bring in help for their roster, and it looks like they will have a lot of cash to spend during the upcoming offseason as well.

Over the past two seasons, the Colts have added a ton of new faces via free agency, with a few becoming key players on both sides of the ball.  Indianapolis will have a lot of cap space this offseason as well, and general manager Ryan Grigson seems determined to bring in as much help as possible each offseason.

Below is a look at the current salary cap situation for the Colts, followed by a look at some key free agents and what lies in store for the team.

 

Current Cap Situation

Oct 14, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson talks on a cell phone before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Much like the 2013 offseason, the Colts look to be in good shape financially.  According to OverTheCap.com, the Colts will likely have an estimated $38.8 million in cap space for the 2014 season.

Indianapolis Colts Cap Situation
YearTotal LiabilitiesSalary CapCap Room
2014$88,433,305$127,240,665$38,807,360
2015$63,184,166$126,095,000$62,910,834
2016$36,614,355$127,986,000$91,371,645
2017$10,400,000$130,546,000$120,146,000
OverTheCap.com

It seems crazy to think that the Colts have this much cap space after how many free agents they brought in last year, but it makes sense.  They gave some long-term contracts to players like Gosder Cherilus, Erik Walden and LaRon Landry, but players like Darrius Heyward-Bey and Ahmad Bradshaw only signed one-year deals.

Rookie contracts have also helped give the Colts plenty of cap space.  Andrew Luck will count against the cap for just over $6 million in 2014, while T.Y. Hilton will count for just $706,850 and Coby Fleener will count for around $1.46 million.

But despite having a good amount of cap room, the Colts have a number of free agents who they may need to re-sign.

 

Free Agents

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 14:   Antoine Bethea #41 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts after a tackle in the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on November 14, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As the Colts look at next season, there are going to be a lot of free agents, which means that quite a few current faces will likely be gone after this season.  Just look at some of the current players below who will be free agents after this season:

Indianapolis Colts Key Free Agents
PlayerPosition2013 Cap Hit
Adam VinatieriK$3,400,000
Pat McAfeeP$2,977,000
Antoine BetheaS$5,750,000
Donald BrownRB$2,720,000
Fili MoalaDL$850,000
Darrius Heyward-BeyWR$2,500,000
Vontae DavisCB$1,861,250
Cassius VaughnCB$1,323,000
Pat AngererLB$1,222,500
Kavell ConnerLB$641,309
Ahmad BradshawRB$1,918,750
Spotrac.com

With so many potential free agents, the Colts are going to have to try to hang on to a few of them.  The special teams players are very popular players in Indianapolis, so the Colts may very well try to bring back both kicker Adam Vinatieri and punter Pat McAfee.

On offense, it's highly unlikely that Heyward-Bey returns, considering how poorly he's played this season with all of the drops that led to him being benched in favor of Griff Whalen and Da'Rick Rogers.  

At running back, the Colts will have an interesting decision to make as to whether they want to bring back Donald Brown or Ahmad Bradshaw with Trent Richardson and Vick Ballard on the roster.  Given the health concerns of Bradshaw, he may not come back, especially with how well Brown has played this season.

There are a number of possible free agents on defense, but the two big names are Antoine Bethea and Vontae Davis.  Despite being a staple of the defense for a while, Bethea has struggled this season, and even his late-season surge might not be enough to help him get a new contract.  Unless he asks for way too much, there's a good chance that Davis will be back.

Based off of who they bring back, the Colts should still have a fair amount of cap space remaining to try to bring in some other key free agents.  Heading into next season, the Colts will likely need some help on the interior of the offensive line, a solid No. 2 receiver and a pass-rusher to get to the quarterback and take some pressure off of Robert Mathis.  

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 08: James Jones #89 of the Green Bay Packers watches as Sean Weatherspoon of the Atlanta Falcons scores a touchdown after an interception at Lambeau Field on December 8, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Gett
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Below are some players that will be available after this season that could be interesting fits with the Colts.

2014 Free Agents
PlayerPosition2013 Team2013 Cap Hit
James JonesWRPackers$3,750,000
Hakeem NicksWRGiants$3,705,000
Alex MackCBrowns$5,032,000
Brian De La PuenteCSaints$2,023,000
Matt SlausonGBears$815,000
Brian OrakpoOLBRedskins$5,109,000
Anthony SpencerDE/OLBCowboys$10,627,200
Spotrac.com

Overall, the Colts are in luck this offseason. There are going to be a number of big names at positions they really need help at that they could possibly snag to make them a threat in the AFC in 2014.

 

Looking Ahead

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 01:  Andrew Luck #12  of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass during the NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Having a lot of cap space is great, but the Colts are going to have to be careful with how they use it, and they definitely will be cautious.

Big contracts are on the horizon for the Colts after the 2015 season, with all of the rookies drafted in 2012 having their contracts expire in two years.  Luck is going to get paid the big bucks, Hilton is going to get a solid contract as well, while others, like Richardson, Ballard and Fleener, will be hoping to get paid as well.

As we've seen over the past few seasons, bringing in a ton of help via free agency isn't always the most successful strategy.  The Philadelphia Eagles found that out the hard way just a couple of seasons ago after bringing in some of the biggest names around the league with some huge contracts.

But given the fact that the Colts have gone 11-5 for two consecutive seasons, it looks like they will have an opportunity to improve their team through free agency, and potentially become a Super Bowl contender by adding players at key positions.

 

All information regarding player contracts was provided by Spotrac.com.  

Follow Tyler on Twitter @TylerDBrooke