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Colts carrying huge dead money number

Indianapolis Colts general manager Grigson watches the field prior to the start of his team's preseason NFL football game versus the St. Louis Rams in Indianapolis Reuters

As the Colts under Andrew Luck hope to at least match the 3-13 record generated by Peyton Manning in his rookie season, they’re doing it with one financial hand tied behind their backs.

As Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star points out, the Colts have more than $37 million in dead money under the 2012 salary cap.  The term refers to cash already spent on players in past years, with future bonus allocations accelerated into the current cap year — and the biggest chunk of it comes from the decision to part ways with Peyton Manning.

Still, Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson isn’t feeling sorry for himself.  “There’s probably been other general managers in my situation,” Grigson told Chappell.  Pressed on whether others have had so much dead money, Grigson said, “I don’t know about that.”

With linebacker Dwight Freeney, who’s out for Sunday’s game due to a high ankle sprain, carrying a cap number in excess of $19 million, the Colts won’t have $56 million in 2012 cap space on the field when they play their home opener later today.

The Colts still had $5.3 million in cap space as of last week, and taking their cap lumps now means there will be plenty of cap space next year.  Still, Grigson grew up in the Eagles’ front office, where saving cap money has morphed from art form to religious experience.  “Everybody keeps saying ‘You’re going to have all this money next year’ and it’s going to be nice because I had barely any to work with this year,” Grigson said. “But with more [cap space] next year, I’m not going to make a splash signing somebody or try to blow money just because we might have it.”

Here’s the thing Grigson needs to remember.  Next year, the minimum per-term spending requirement kicks in, with every team required to actually spend 89 percent of the unadjusted cap number.  Next year, then, every team has to spend — even if they’re having a hard time finding players on which to spend it.

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6 Responses to “Colts carrying huge dead money number”
  1. jimnaizeeum says: Sep 16, 2012 8:07 AM

    19 mil for Freeny…not a real wise move there.

  2. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Sep 16, 2012 8:53 AM

    My take is the Colts have a lot of reasons to be excited:

    (1) Andrew Luck: ’nuff said. This guy is the real deal in every way imaginable.

    (2) New hire HC Chuck Pagano will be a great coach, who will build a hard-nosed mentality and culture in Indy. My Steelers had to deal with Pagano when he was DC of the Ravens for some time. Trust me, the Pagano move was a GREAT hire that will keep Colts fans for years – that is, if you like smashmouth/no excuses football, like Baltimore and Pittsburgh play.

    (3) Freeney and Angerer will be coming back. Mathis is already flexing his muscle at the expense of opposing QBs.

    (4) The dead money clears after this year. Seeing as how the Colts are presumably not knocking on the door yet, the dead money consequence loses relevance — since their star is on the rise for the future. Once this dead money clears, the Colts will have an absolute boatload of cap room with which to feed Luck an OL and some skill player weapons. We already saw them bring in Fleener, Allen and a wideout in the draft – so they’ve already gotten started. However, next year is when the quantum leaps commence.

    There are other reasons, but those cited above are some key ones. In short, I am very high on buying Colts futures – and Colt Nation should be jacked.

  3. EJ says: Sep 16, 2012 8:55 AM

    As if the players don’t get paid well enough already.

  4. pj1983a says: Sep 16, 2012 8:56 AM

    Honestly, this is not a horrible situation to be. The Colts have zero expectations this year. They can suffer through cap hell, put an inferior team on the field as a result, and no one but a few delusional fans will care. That’s far better than putting yourself in cap hell in an attempt to be competitive, failing, and looking like complete idiots for doing so (a la the Redskins for the past decade or so).

  5. eventhorizon04 says: Sep 16, 2012 9:31 AM

    “EJ says: Sep 16, 2012 8:55 AM

    As if the players don’t get paid well enough already.”

    Yeah, so unfair, those poor billionaire team owners will barely survive if their teams are forced to spend 90% of their salary cap each year.

  6. eventhorizon04 says: Sep 16, 2012 9:36 AM

    It’s not so bad- the dead money comes off the books this year at least, and they’ll need that money.

    When it comes to the 2013 draft, the Colts have traded away a 2nd round pick and conditional 6th round pick to Miami for Vontae Davis, a 5th round pick to San Francisco to select TY Hilton this year, and a conditional 7th round pick to get a couple of linebackers from Philadelphia.

    That leaves the Colts with possibly only 3 draft picks in 2013 – a 1st round pick, a 3rd round pick, and a 4th round pick.

    So if they want to improve dramatically in 2013, they’re probably going to need to spend in free agency.

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