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INDIANAPOLIS – The resources are abundant, which is important, as the Colts encounter a massive offseason.
An attractive amount of draft capital awaits come April.
The cap space is overflowing, with the Colts having the most in the NFL (per Spotrac).
Most Cap Space Available for 2020
1. Colts: $96.45 million
2. Dolphins: $94.33 million
3. Buccaneers: $91.78 million
4. Bills: $89.04 million
5. Cowboys: $81.90 million
If Anthony Castonzo ends up retiring, it’s no guarantee that the Colts hand out even a single notable contract to one of their own free agents.
Just like last offseason though, the Colts will almost certainly save a good chunk of cap space to extend some key cornerstone guys.
With the Colts also having an ample amount of money to spend last offseason, Chris Ballard elected to go for a ‘quality over quantity’ approach.
This differed from previous offseasons.
In 2017, believing that a huge overhaul was needed, especially defensively, Ballard’s first offseason as Colts GM saw him sign 11 outside free agents.
Ballard followed up in 2018 with 4 outside free agents inked.
Last offseason saw just two FAs signed by the Colts, but both came with notable pay days for WR-Devin Funchess and DE-Justin Houston.
When comparing the deals for Funchess and Houston to their respective positions, they were two of the higher paid FAs (at those spots).
The Colts paid top dollar for free agents in 2019, with the roster starting to move away from the need for a plethora of free agent bodies, like it did in 2017.
With it harder for late-round draft picks to make the Indy roster nowadays, and the small number of free agents being inked last summer, would a similar approach of ‘quality over quantity’ make sense again in 2020?
“You all know my philosophy on free agency,” Ballard said at his season-ending press conference. “You cannot buy a championship. You cannot buy a locker room. We will continue to go down the same road we’ve been going down.
“Saying that, when we get opportunities to acquire players that we like, we’ll do it (like Houston and Funchess last year). It’s not like we haven’t gone into free agency. When we get a chance to acquire players, we will. Our general philosophy is always going to be to build through the draft (though). That’s how we’re going to do it.”
But Ballard also saw a problem develop during the 2019 season of the Colts missing some veteran voices, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“I can tell you one of the real problems — and this is my fault — we missed the leadership of a guy like Al Woods a guy like Mike Mitchell,” Ballard said of two 2019 free agents who the Colts did not re-sign last offseason.
“Those players, maybe I took it for granted a little bit that I could just throw in a bunch of young players and they would — I don’t think you can ever overestimate the power of veteran leadership, even if they’re not frontline players for you. Just when it gets a little hard, they’re a calming factor. That’s my fault. And I’ve got to do a better job of acquiring the right type of veterans on the defense and on the offensive side of the ball who can help guys get through these rough moments.”
Will that lead to a little more free agency action, after bringing back 20 of 22 starters last year?