Key Additions: Art Jones ($6M per year), D’Qwell Jackson ($5.5M), Hakeem Nicks ($4M)
Key Re-Signings: Vontae Davis ($9M per year), Sergio Brown ($1.4M), Fili Moala ($1.4M),
Key Losses: Antoine Bethea (49ers), Donald Brown (Chargers), Mike McGlynn (Redskins)
Major Cuts: Samson Satele ($4M cap savings)
Free Agency Thoughts:
The best decision the team made was to sign Hakeem Nicks to a relatively low cost one year contract. While Nicks has been on a downtrend he has talent and likely faced a rude awakening when he realized not many teams in the NFL valued him highly in free agency. He was a victim of the lack of success of the Mike Wallace’s of the world last year that made people put more focus on recent performance rather than potential talent. Nicks will be highly motivated to put up big numbers and this is the perfect offense for him to do that. If he can not succeed in Indianapolis his next deal will be for close to the minimum. No risk and great reward here.
Vontae Davis will earn $20 million in the first two years of his four year contract which is quite the haul for Davis. The Colts have a tendency to overpay players and they were clearly worried about another team coming in and taking Davis. Im not sure if teams would have gone close to this level. He is a good fit in Indianapolis but in Miami seemed to have a reputation for not absorbing what the coaches were telling him to do. The Miami years might carry more weight with other teams considering a contract. As long as he makes it to the third year of his contract without concern the Colts got an ok contract, but this just seems a little on the high end.
Following the same trend was the contract of Arthur Jones. This is one of those deals where if he gets to year three with nobody mentioning any negatives on the signing they will be fine. $16 million over two years, though, is steep.
D’Qwell Jackson’s signing, which took place right before the start of free agency, was one that initially sounded like a terrible contract, but does leave the Colts with an almost cap-free cost of cutting in 2016. It is almost a pure cash contract with $11 million essentially guaranteed over the first two seasons. I cant picture other teams going nearly that high on him, but he will upgrade the defense.
I don’t think the team lost anyone of note in free agency. Antoine Bethea can still play, but the Colts are moving on from that generation and he doesn’t fit in with their future plans. The team is already over-invested in Trent Richardson to justify keeping Donald Brown, who may be nothing more than a half season wonder after a disappointing run for most of his rookie contract with the Colts. They may have been dealt a little blow when Phil Costa retired after being signed in free agency, but considering they gave him no signing bonus they may have been aware that something could happen there. That’s a position they can address in the draft.
Overall Grade: C+
For the most part I am not a big believer in the way the Colts approach free agency but they are a competitive team in a bad division and have the cap space to absorb these types of contracts. Most of the deals are structured with out provisions in the year when Andrew Luck will likely turn from being a great bargain to being overpaid so they won’t have long term consequences. These contracts were better than the deals they signed last year, but I do question what will happen when Indianapolis does wind up with a roster that does not provide the salary cap flexibility they have now. If they maintain their current strategies towards roster building they may have problems in the future. But for this year they should be fine and with no first round pick and what looks to be, even in the always changing NFL, a free pass to a division title, they needed to do whatever they could to improve their team for a playoff run during free agency and they did just that.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.