Salary cap space tightened for the Indianapolis Colts after acquiring quarterback Matt Ryan through a trade. But general manager Chris Ballard addressed that concern this week.
NFL Insider Field Yates of ESPN reported on March 24 that the Colts opened up $6 million in additional salary cap space by converting $12 million from Ryan’s contract into a signing bonus.
With Ryan’s restructured contract, Spotrac reports the Colts possess roughly $22.04 million in salary cap space, which is seventh-most in the league as of March 26. Ryan’s cap hit for the upcoming season with be about $18.7 million.
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Matt Ryan a Bargain for the Colts
While $18 million is a lot of money for the average person, it’s a bargain for NFL quarterbacks these days. At the beginning of free agency, the Atlanta Falcons were set to have Ryan count as about a $48.7 million cap hit for the 2022 season.
Yates tweeted in February that that would have been the largest player cap hit in NFL history.
Ryan has two years remaining on his contract, and the cap hit was only going to drop to $43.6 million for the 2023 season in Atlanta.
But Ryan’s contract looks a lot different now that he is in Indianapolis because the Falcons still have Ryan’s signing bonus counting towards their cap. In fact, Atlanta will take a $40.5 million cap hit for Ryan during the 2022 season.
That makes Ryan quite affordable for the Colts. Spotrac reports Ryan has moved down to 15th in highest cap hits among NFL quarterbacks in 2022. Ryan is just behind Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold, who are set to count as almost $18.9 million in salary for the Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers, respectively.
Unless the Colts restructure his contract again, Ryan will count as a $35.2 million cap hit for the 2023 season.
Colts to Spend Extra Space on a Wide Receiver?
Now that quarterback has been filled, there’s no question that Indianapolis’ biggest need sits at wide receiver. The Colts needed to upgrade their wide receivers anyway, but then on March 21, the team’s No. 2 wideout, Zach Pascal, signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Longtime Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton is also a free agent.
Indianapolis is left with Michael Pittman, Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin and Mike Strachan to be Ryan’s top outside targets. While Pittman recorded 1,082 receiving yards last season, Campbell, Dulin and Strachan had 25 receptions and 361 yards … combined.
On Feb. 24, NFL Writer Kevin Patra of NFL.com looked at every team’s wide receiver situation and placed the wideout group for the Colts in his bottom receiver tier called, “Need immediate help.”
“The focus is on the QB position in Indy, but the wideout room needs significant help. Pittman proved he’s a No. 1 target, but there isn’t anyone behind the 24-year-old,” Patra wrote. “Pittman generated 1,082 yards on 88 catches, and the next-closest Colt receiver was Pascal, with 384 receiving yards. That imbalance isn’t going to do much for any quarterback.
“Hilton could retire after another injury-ravaged season, and Campbell remains MIA within the offense, having logged just 20 targets over six games thanks to a foot injury. Receiver should be high on the priority list this offseason in Indy in both free agency and the draft.”
Clearly, the Colts need to upgrade their wide receivers to give the team’s soon-to-be 37-year-old quarterback better options in the passing attack. Ballard has a better chance of making a splash at receiver with more salary cap space after restructuring Ryan’s deal.