One of the biggest strengths in the Indianapolis Colts defense, which could be one of the best units this fall, is its depth at cornerback. But that’s assuming everyone is on the field.
That wasn’t the case as the Colts began their voluntary offseason workout program in late May.
Colts insider Joel A. Erickson reports that cornerback Kenny Moore II is at Indianapolis’ facility but not participating in team workouts during OTAs because he “is upset and feels like he’s underpaid.”
When asked about Moore not appearing in team drills, Colts head coach Frank Reich downplayed Moore’s lack of participation.
“Everything’s voluntary at this point,” Reich said to the media in a press conference on May 25. “Obviously, you all know how we feel about Kenny [Moore].”
“I’m not worried,’’ Reich said. “That doesn’t mean I’m not worried it doesn’t stretch into training camp. I hope whatever needs to get worked out – whether that’s something or nothing [gets resolved].
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Kenny Moore’s Complicated Contract Situation
Moore signed a four-year contract extension worth $33.3 million in 2019. Now two years into the extension, he apparently wants a new deal.
That’s not going to get him much sympathy from fans. Nor will the fact that Moore’s current contract pays him an average annual salary of $8.325 million, which at the time of the signing, made him the highest-paid nickel cornerback in the NFL according to Fox 59.
Spotrac reports that Moore will carry a $6.75 million cap hit in 2022. He will receive $6.5 million as his base salary and a $250,000 roster bonus. Moore will make $7.545 million, including a $750,000 roster bonus, in the final year of the contract next season.
Based on his production and how contracts have inflated since Moore signed his deal three years ago, the 26-year-old is underpaid. But the situation is more complicated than that.
He is making below what his annual salary average is for the contract in 2022 and 2023 because the deal was front loaded. Moore received an $8 million roster bonus in 2019.
The fact that his contract was construction in this way wasn’t a surprise. Moore agreed to it and happily signed the deal in 2019.
But it’s highly unusual for a player as important as Moore to enter the final two years of a contract with very little guaranteed money. The Colts could cut Moore if he suffers a serious injury and have no dead cap figure.
Essentially, Moore has no financial security right now. That wouldn’t sit well with any NFL star that plays as many snaps as Moore does.
Since 2018, Moore has played at least 92% of Indianapolis’ defensive snaps every season. The 26-year-old was second on the Colts in defensive snaps last season, lining up for more than 97% of the teams snaps on defense.
While Moore’s $8.325 million average annual salary makes him the highest paid nickel cornerback, Spotrac reports that Moore is ranked 27th in average annual salary among all NFL cornerbacks.
Kenny Moore Sitting Out Voluntary Workouts
To be fair to Moore, missing voluntary drills hardly signifies the start of a holdout. As Reich noted, the workouts are “voluntary.”
Still, it’s definitely a situation worth monitoring.
The Colts have former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore and breakout candidate Isaiah Rodgers at cornerback on the depth chart. But they hardly want to enter the season without their top nickel corner — a position that’s grown into a starting role in today’s NFL.
Even when the Indianapolis defense has only had two cornerbacks on the field the past few years, Moore hasn’t gone to the sidelines. So having Moore ready for the start of the season is truly essential.
The Colts also have new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley this year. Ideally, Moore will need to get adequate time on the field this summer and preseason in order to be completely ready to play in Indianapolis’ new defensive system.