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.