INDIANAPOLIS —After a couple days full of reports and rumors of new deals during the league’s “legal tampering” period, the NFL’s free agency period officially gets underway today at 4 p.m. ET.
So what can we expect from the Indianapolis Colts when free agency gets underway? Here’s your official primer:
How active will the Colts be?A year after the most active free agency period in team history, what does Colts general manager Chris Ballard have up his sleeve for 2018?
Well, if he had his way, the Colts would be much, much less active in free agency this time around, depending more on the 2017 NFL Draft class, as well as the upcoming draft class in April, to continue building the depth of the roster. Free agency, then, could be used to get a key player at a position of need here or there, but is certainly not the ideal way to construct a consistent winner.
While you’ll see lots of players finding new homes today across the league — even some of them who had reported interest from the Colts — it’s just not in Ballard’s nature to place a value on a specific player, but then get in a bidding war with another team and drive that price up.
As the saying goes: these guys are free agents for a reason. Most of the best players in the league are re-signed to new deals and never, or rarely, hit the open market. Any free agent you bring in must not only be the right fit financially, but must fit schematically and within the culture of your program.
"The one thing we won’t do is pay a mid-level player blue money. And when I mean blue money: top of the line, high dollars for a guy that is not going to give us that type of production," Ballard said recently at the Colts' 2018 Town Hall for Season Ticket Members. "And I really believe that player acquisition happens, it starts in March, but it doesn’t end until mid-October and even into November — you can still find players; there’s answers out there. And eventually we might feel really good about signing a high-dollar free agent, and everybody in here’s going to be excited, they’re going to write great things, but then they’ve gotta play. And then that all goes away."
Who are the Colts’ free agents?
The Colts entered the 2018 offseason with 14 unrestricted free agents-to-be, but that number changed to 13 on Feb. 22 when they re-signed kicker Adam Vinatieri to a reported one-year deal.
So who will officially become free agents once 4 p.m. ET hits today? Here’s that list of 13 Colts players:
• Wide receiver Kamar Aiken
• Inside linebacker Jon Bostic
• Safety Darius Butler
• Cornerback Pierre Desir
• Running back Frank Gore
• Cornerback Rashaan Melvin
• Guard Jack Mewhort
• Running back Christine Michael
• Outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo
• Wide receiver Donte Moncrief
• Center Mike Person
• Quarterback Scott Tolzien
• Tight end Brandon Williams
Read more on each of these Colts unrestricted free agents right here.
The Colts also have four exclusive rights free agents heading into the 2018 season. These are players whose contracts have expired and have two or fewer accrued years in the league. The Colts must make a contract offer by the league-imposed deadline of 4 p.m. ET today, or the players become free agents (if the Colts tender the player(s), however, they have exclusive rights to them for the 2018 season):
• Cornerback Chris Milton
• Long snapper Luke Rhodes
• Tight end Mo Alie-Cox
• Guard Jeremy Vujnovich
Will the Colts re-sign any other free agents?
It’s very possible, but, for now, it appears Ballard will let them all test the open market. The Colts did the same with Butler last year, who was an unrestricted free agent for about a week before agreeing to terms on a one-year deal to return to Indy.
We do know the team will likely move on from Gore, its starting running back, as Ballard said recently that the team wants to get younger at the position.
The Colts are also very interested in bringing Melvin — who had a career year in 2017 — back, but Ballard said they’ll use more of a wait-and-see approach with the veteran cornerback.
Where can I stay up-to-date on all the Colts’ moves?
Glad you asked.
The Colts 2018 Free Agent Tracker will have all the updated information on the 13 Colts unrestricted free agents, as well as the free agents the team brings in from other teams.
What is the salary cap for 2018?
Each team has a salary cap figure of $177,200,000, according to the NFL.
It’s been reported that the Colts have about $72 million in cap space to spend this offseason, though a good chunk of that must be used on the team’s upcoming draft picks and undrafted college free agents.