The Colts continue to be managed prudently regarding the franchise’s future salary cap flexibility.
According to PFF, the Indianapolis Colts have the league’s fourth best ‘cap health’ over the next three years with a projected $156.4M of effective cap space from 2022-24 and very little owed prorated money (*relatively speaking), $86.5M, during that same span:
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — RANK: 4TH
Even after extending three core members of their 2018 draft class in linebacker Darius Leonard, right tackle Braden Smith, and running back Nyheim Hines, the Colts have maintained a healthy budget. However, guard Quenton Nelson is entering his fifth-year option season with the maximum $13.754 million value and will be presumably looking to explode the guard market beyond Jaguars guard Brandon Scherff’s $16.5 million per year.
Offseason additions in Stephon Gilmore and Yannick Ngakoue should have the Colts right in the thick of things as always, and they could still add a few more pieces if they wanted to, perhaps reuniting wide receiver Julio Jones with their new quarterback in the recently acquired Matt Ryan, or bringing back fan-favorite T.Y. Hilton for one more run. Ryan may not be playing at an MVP level as he did back in 2016, but he’s a marked upgrade over Carson Wentz. This team, once again, has lofty expectations.
One piece of business the Colts may need to attend to before the season kicks off is an extension for slot cornerback Kenny Moore II, who is apparently seeking a new deal after several years as one of the best slot defenders across the league.
While 4x NFL All-Pro Quenton Nelson has a looming mega-extension on a deal that will assuredly make him the highest paid guard in league history, he’s already making $13.8M on his 5th-year option for 2022, so it shouldn’t be that drastic of a pay increase.
Otherwise, some of the Colts higher priced players are on short-term deals: Yannick Ngakoue (1 year), Matt Ryan (2 years), Stephon Gilmore (2 years), Grover Stewart (2 years), Kenny Moore II (2 years) and both DeForest Buckner and Ryan Kelly have contracts with greatly diminished dead cap hits through 2023-24—should Indianapolis want to get out of those deals early (which appears unlikely given each player’s current production and pace).
The team does have some long-term extensions to start contemplating for its pair of 2020 second round picks and core offensive players: Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr.—who have two years left a piece on each’s current rookie contract.
As always, since Colts general manager Chris Ballard’s arrival in 2017 (and Director of Football Administration Mike Bluem’s shrewd management of the team’s salary cap), the Colts have consistently maintained great salary cap flexibility—and that should only continue going forward for the foreseeable future.