Colts moves result in $38 million of dead money


The good news for the Colts is that the recent dumping of multiple veteran players with recognizable names creates more than $10 million in cap space.

The bad news is that, for the privilege of not having players like Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, Gary Brackett, Melvin Bullitt, and Joseph Addai on the team, the Colts will trigger $38 million in empty cap dollars, according to Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.

Known widely as “dead money,” the figure comes from bonuses and other guaranteed payments already made to players who are no longer with the team.

Though the CBA allows a team to spread dead money over two years even if the move comes before the June 1 salary cap Mason-Dixon line, the ability of the Colts to use that technique as it relates to 2012 and 2013 could be blocked by the fact that the moves technically came during the 2011 league year.   (We’ve requested clarification from the league.)

And so the job for new G.M. Ryan Grigson and new coach Chuck Pagano continues to get harder.  It’ll get even harder once Dwight Freeney is gone.

Meanwhile, owner Jim Irsay just fired the Polians again.

UPDATE 1:37 p.m. ET:  League spokesman Michael Signora advises via email that the full $38 million hits the cap in 2012.  If the salary cap is in the expected range of $120 million, that leaves the Colts (abacus engaged) $82 million to field a team this year.

35 responses to “Colts moves result in $38 million of dead money

  1. It’s a ground-up rebuild. There’s no real choice. It looks like they’re doing the right thing, but it’s going to hurt for a while.

  2. It’ll get even harder when Andrew Luck decides its a career killer to go to Indy and pulls an Eli.

  3. Good Luck getting a true honest clarification from the league when they can not even figure out the current salary cap.

  4. Thanks for doing the math on all this. I’m way too lazy to figure that out, but I was wondering how all these cuts would impact the team. Yar!

    Even if they find a way to spread it out a bit, it’s still a ton of cash.

    Man, they are redefining “rebuild.”

  5. You’re in a mood today. I like it. The Eli burn on the Pats, and a couple others here.

  6. As much as this can be blamed on the Polians, Mr. Irsay writes the checks. What’s very interesting is all of these moves took place AFTER season ticket renewals had to be paid by March 2nd. Wonder how many fans would have renewed knowing what they know now? I personally was ok moving on and rebuilding but this is ridiculous. Who is Andrew Luck going to pass to, hand off too, who will defend? Betting Mathis is wishing he hadn’t committed himself to a team that has no chance getting to a Super Bowl for a few years.

  7. Gmsalpha, Nice try, but Luck publicly stated this week that it would be an honor to play for the Indianapolis Colts. Luck is smart enough to know that rebuilding is the only way. You on the other hand, are not.

  8. @Ravenator
    Wishful thinking, but the pittsburgh cuts are over.. Mike Wallace will be picked up by the pats but the Ravens will still have a hard time beating the stee’s next year. Enjoy this past season b/c no chance the ratbirds beat pitt twice this year. and once Ed and Ray Ray are done.. so is the team.. no way that guy named Flacco can carry the team to a championship.

  9. This will be like the Patriots and Jim Plunkett. Luck will win a Super Bowl MVP ten years from now – with the Raiders.

  10. Can Luck play D also? WOW! I didn’t think the Colts would blow as much as they did this year, but upon further review….. How are the Pacers doing?

  11. gmsalpha says:
    Mar 10, 2012 12:39 PM
    It’ll get even harder when Andrew Luck decides its a career killer to go to Indy and pulls an Eli.

    OMG! Wouldn’t this be awesome…. Only bad thing is Colts would probably own the #1 next year too..

  12. ravenator says:
    Mar 10, 2012 12:41 PM
    Take note Pittsburgh.
    You are a little obsessed with the steelers, aren’t you? And Pittsburgh is still far from rebuilding mode, still a contender in the AFC, and still the best team in the AFC north.

  13. It sure looks to me that the Colts are going to have a “real ugly” season in 2012 unless Luck is the second coming.

  14. Sure, let’s blame the Polians. If my GM found Brackett as an undrafted free agent, Bullit as an undrafted free agent, got All Pro service from Clark, and pretty good career from Addai, I’d mock him too.

  15. it doesn’t matter if they find the talent and then sink the team by overpaying them. in fact, it makes it worse because then you have to dump guys like we did yesterday. If they weren’t so overpaid we would have been able to trade them for some kind of draft pick. So now we lose players, lose future money, and don’t have draft picks to show for it. yeah, i’ll blame a Polian.

  16. crazybeardedjack says: Mar 10, 2012 12:58 PM

    Can’t wait for the a Red Sox-esque curse to befall the Colts.

    How about a Bobby Layne type of curse?

  17. The Colts were smart to make the moves in the 2011 league year and take the whole 38 million dollar hit now. Better to get it over with and start fresh next year, IMO.

    This year they can focus on adding young talent through the draft and worry about adding free agents next year.

  18. Is it possible Luck decides not to play for a gutted cap impaired franchise and demands a trade? How many picks would could Indy get…4 #1’s? That might actually be a way better deal to rebuild considering the new CBA and rookie wages.

  19. Carrying that much money makes no sense. Not when the cap hit is not spread out. Like the article points out, they are being paid not to be on the team. So, in addition to paying Clark and Freeney to play elsewhere, the Colts also get to carry the cap hit and pay their replacements.

  20. When was the last time the worst team in football gained so much attention during the off-season? Incredible…

  21. Yikes. The Patriots lost tons of key veterans, but over the course of the past 5 years….not the past 5 days. I feel for you Colts fans. Father time goes 19-0 every year…

  22. Anyone see Bill Polian’s interview on ESPN after Peyton got cut?

    He said that the Colts will be in very good Cap shape next year and then proceeded to claim that it was, at least in part, the result of how he and the organization had planned their Cap strategy when he was in charge.

    Apparently, according to him, they signed Peyton last year, knowing that he’d miss the year, which would cause them to lose 14 games and get the number one pick, so that they could cut him this year, take Luck and rebuild better than ever two or three years from now.

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

    I’ve never been a Bill Polian hater, but Jesus! That claim was about as steaming and foul-smelling of a load of crap as I can imagine.

  23. realitypolice says:Mar 10, 2012 2:08 PM

    The Colts were smart to make the moves in the 2011 league year and take the whole 38 million dollar hit now. Better to get it over with and start fresh next year, IMO.


    The Colts are taking the hits now because of the moves they just made over the past few days.

    The Cap charges of the players they cut will happen this year.

    They didn’t make moves, like signing Addai and Bullitt in 2011, anticipating that they would cut them in 2012. They signed them and paid them thinking they’d be on the team in 2012. Which also means that they would have had Cap charges associated with those players in 2013, and not more Cap space.

    What you said is 100% wrong, and it makes no sense.

  24. If Luck can’t think farther ahead than his nose and would refuse the Colts because of cap space in 2012 than he isn’t as smart as all the hype. The Colts will have incredible flexiblilty to craft a talented young team for a emerging young Pro Bowl quarterback in his third year. Perfect timing to take command – better to be fine tuning a bright new fibreglass composite versus trying to cobble together rickety old ship with putty and old wood from other shipwrecks.

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