The Indianapolis Colts are set up pretty nicely in 2014 with over $33 million in projected cap space. But the team could put themselves into an even better position by cleaning out their roster, getting rid of overpaid players who clog the salary cap while offering little on the field.
Part of the process every season for each NFL team is cutting players, and the Colts are no exception, even if it seems harsh to call for certain players to be waived. In the end, the NFL is a business, and teams can't always afford to pay players at the rate they initially signed them for.
In today's look at the 2014 roster, we're taking a look at five Colts that could be cut for reasonable cap savings. For a look at some of the players who maybe should be cut, but wouldn't offer cap savings, check out the guide I put together for Colts Authority last month.
Note: All salary and cap information comes via Spotrac.com.
2014 Cap Hit: $5,125,000
Dead Money: $1,875,000
2014 Cap Savings: $3,250,000
Ricky Jean Francois was signed in 2013 to an exorbitant contract: $22 million over four years for a player who was merely a role player in San Francisco. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, Jean Francois hasn't broken out as a premium-level starter, making him one very overpaid defensive end.
The 27-year-old lineman has the Colts' fourth-highest cap hit in 2014, and the Colts could save over $3 million by cutting him for 2014.
In the end, however, it doesn't seem like a move that would happen any time soon. The Colts don't have another starting-level end to pair with Cory Redding, and Jean Francois' contract isn't bad enough to warrant getting rid of a decent player.
2014 Cap Hit: $3,750,000
Dead Money: $1,500,000
2014 Cap Savings: $2,250,000
Apologies to Matt Hasselbeck, who seems like a nice guy, but there's no way the Colts should have signed him to sit on the bench for two years for $7.25 million. Hasselbeck's cap hit will be the 26th-highest for any quarterback in the league in 2014, which is ridiculous for a backup behind an established starter.
Yes, the Colts want to have a backup they trust and a veteran who can help with Luck's development, but you can find those things for less money. Not to mention that when it comes down to it, Matt Hasselbeck isn't saving anybody's season in 2014.
2014 Cap Hit: $1,389,000
Dead Money: $0
2014 Cap Savings: $1,389,000
We can talk about how former Colts OLB Jerry Hughes needed a change of scenery until we are blue in the face, but the fact is that Buffalo got a heck of a lot more out of the Hughes-Sheppard swap than Indianapolis did.
Sheppard was simply bad in Indianapolis. He was the Colts' first and second-down inside linebacker for a large portion of the season, but ended up with the team's worst run defense grade from Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Waiving him wouldn't save the Colts a huge amount of money, but it would give them some relief while allowing them to start clean with another player.
2014 Cap Hit: $4,833,333
Dead Money: $666,667
2014 Cap Savings: $4,166,666
Cutting Toler would be one of the most efficient moves, saving over $4.1 million and allowing the Colts to go after a "safer" player. Toler has injury history and inconsistent play on the field holding him back, and allowing him to count for $5 million against the cap in 2013 is extremely poor value.
But the Colts don't have much of a choice. With Toler and Darius Butler as the only established cornerbacks on the roster for 2014, the Colts have to keep Toler in order to keep doing what they want in the secondary. The Colts could cut Toler and go after a better corner for similar money in free agency, but that's a slim chance at best.
2014 Cap Hit: $5,066,667
Dead Money: $1,066,667
2014 Cap Savings: $4,000,000
If anybody is a poster boy for the "veteran cuts" in Indianapolis in 2014, it's Satele. The veteran center was brought in in 2011 as a potential long-term starter at center, but he's proved that he belongs nowhere near Indianapolis' long-term plans.
Satele has the team's fifth-highest cap hit in 2014 and the 10th-highest among all NFL centers (although that likely will get bumped down after free agency), which is ridiculous. Satele has been one of the league's worst centers, and his inconsistencies helped put the interior line in shambles last year.
There's really no reason that Satele shouldn't be cut over the next few weeks. The Colts have to upgrade the starting lineup, and they can't afford to have over $5 million in dead money