Colts’ salary-cap space update after early free agency moves
The Indianapolis Colts have made several moves since the start of the legal tampering period and the opening of free agency this week, all of which have had an impact on the salary cap.
While the Colts entered the week with roughly $12 million in salary-cap space, the moves they’ve made have added roughly $8 million in cap space, mostly due to the release of quarterback Matt Ryan and the trade of cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Those two moves alone added roughly $27 million in salary-cap space.
With the first week of free agency nearing its conclusion, the Colts currently sit with roughly $20.5 million in cap space and $12.8 million in effective salary-cap space, per Over the Cap.
The difference in effective salary-cap space includes the projected rookie contracts and since the Colts have a top-five selection in the 2023 NFL draft, the pool of rookie money will be high for the incoming class.
Even so, there are still some moves the Colts can make to free up an abundance of cap space.
The most obvious and expected move is the release of quarterback Nick Foles. He joined the team in 2022 because of Frank Reich, who is now the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. His release will save roughly $2.1 million against the cap.
Meanwhile, the Colts reportedly are considering trading or cutting center Ryan Kelly. While that move would mean the Colts must find an immediate replacement, it would save the team $7.9 million against the cap, regardless of whether he’s released or traded.
Another candidate who could be moved reportedly is tight end Mo Alie-Cox, who signed a three-year deal during the 2022 offseason. Releasing Alie-Cox would save them $2.92 million against the cap while incurring a $2.39 million dead cap hit. Trading him, however, would save them the full $5.3 million.
There’s also the case of defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who isn’t going anywhere. However, a restructure could be possible. Buckner has no more guarantees over the final two years of his contract. The Colts could convert his 2023 base salary ($18.75 million) and roster bonus ($1 million) into a signing bonus. Taking his base salary down to $1.165 million—the minimum for a seven-year veteran—would spread the remaining $18.6 million over the next two seasons and would save the Colts $9.3 million against the cap this season.
In addition, cornerback Kenny Moore II has been the subject of trade rumors, and moving him would clear $8.17 million against the cap.
We’ll see what kind of moves the Colts have in store at the end of the first week of free agency and the start of the second week because they have some major needs to address even after their active start to the new league year.
Keep up to date with the latest news, signings and rumors through our free agency tracker for the Colts.
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