The Colts are getting to the time of inevitable cuts. All teams want to free up cap space for free agency. The Colts have always been a team with a little less cap than the rest of the league. Mike Peterson, Cato June, Marcus Washington, Larry Triplett, David Thorton, Nick Harper, Jason David, and Edgerrin James are just a few of the names of Colts that were not resigned because of money issues. Well, now the Colts are going to have to cut some people. These 3 will be the most probable cuts.
Booger McFarland-First of all, no one call him "Anthony". A nickname like Booger is far too awesome to be replaced with a dumb name like Anthony. Now, the reason he will get cut is because he is set to earn a boatload of cash this upcoming season. $6.85 million is just way too much for a defensive tackle coming off of a major knee injury. He's getting more money than Gary Brackett, Joseph Addai, and Marlin Jackson combined. He's gone. Ed Johnson is a better version of him for less money.
Rob Morris-With the emergence of Tyjuan Hagler and the stacked draft class of linebackers this year, he is really just taking up a roster spot. He can't defend the pass, which is basically what Tampa 2 linebackers have to be able to do to keep their job. He would earn $1.4 million in 2008.
Charlie Johnson-What can I say? Johnson is awful. He's one of the worst offensive linemen I've ever seen play for a Howard Mudd-coached Colts team. He cannot pick up the blitz, and he isn't strong enough to create lanes for running backs. He would earn $465,000 in 2008.
These three are just extra weight for the Colts. With their contracts gone, they would gain about $8.3 million by not having to pay their base salaries. Add that onto the already open cap, and the Colts will have $18 million open. However, most of that would not go to free agency. They still have to resign free agents.
If they resign Dallas Clark, Ryan Lilja, Jake Scott, Rocky Boiman, Ben Utecht, and Ed Johnson, they would have to pay around 17.6 for all of those guys using my contract guesstimations. Add that onto the draft money they would have to pay, and it would be over the salary cap. Last year, they paid around $3.18 million dollars on their draft picks besides Anthony Gonzalez. Since the Colts traded their first round pick this season for Tony Ugoh, I didn't add in the first rounder (props to shakennbaken.blogspot.com for first posting this info).
What does this mean for the Colts? Either Ryan Lilja or Jake Scott will not return at least for the money they could earn. I believe they could get around $5 million on the market each. If you let one of the go, the Colts would have enough money to pick up some free agents off the market. Here are the top 5 players the Colts should look at in free agency.
Derrick Ward/RB/New York Giants-It seems like the Giants have found their backs in Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, making Derrick Ward a probable free agent even with his restriction. Derrick Ward broke his leg halfway through the year, but he was one of the best receiving running backs in the league prior to the injury. If the Colts can afford him, he would be a great addition to the team as a third down/change of pace back.
Chris Clemons/DE/Oakland Raiders-The Colts had trouble getting pressure on Billy Volek and Phillip Rivers in the playoff loss, so a pass rusher wouldn't be a bad addition, especially for a cheap price. Josh Thomas should be gone, and the Colts need another defensive back to replace him as well.
Ernest Wilford/WR/Jacksonville Jaguars-The Colts need a very tall wide receiver. They need a Randy Moss but for the price of a second day pick. Ernest Wilford could give the Colts a deep threat who doesn't have to be extremely talented. He averaged 11.5 yards per catch last year, and that was the worst year of his career! He could be a valuable asset in the Colts offense.
Mike Doss/S/Minnesota Vikings-This idea has been brought up before, and I intend on keeping it alive. Doss was a very good player for the Colts, and if it weren't for his ACL tearing, the Colts secondary in 2006 would have been one of the deepest in recent NFL history. The Colts need another backup safety with experience. Doss fits that bill pretty well.
Isaac Sopoaga/DT/San Francisco 49ers-The Colts don't have a giant defensive tackle on the roster. Quinn Pitcock and Edward Johnson are both around 300 pounds, but they don't have the powerful defensive tackle that Corey Simon gave the Colts. Sopoaga could be that tackle.
These 5 players will all be inexpensive and should be good impact backups. None of them deserve to be starters, but they all could make a huge difference off of the bench.
*Courtesy to Coltscap.net for all of the contract information.