How the NFL’s Cap Increase Will Affect Colts in 2023

E.J. Speed and Yannick Ngakoue

Getty Colts linebacker E.J. Speed (left) and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue are set to become free agents this offseason.

Each NFL team, including the Indianapolis Colts, will have a salary cap increase in 2023, per a tweet from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on January 30.

Team cap sizes will rise to $224.8 million — a $16.6 million increase from 2022. The cap adjustment means Indianapolis currently has $13 million of available team cap space.

$13 million may not seem like much, especially with 2023 draft picks and undrafted free agents slated to receive rookie contracts in a few months. However, ESPN’s Field Yates tweeted on January 12 that the Colts have a rollover amount of about $6.6 million that will be added to the team’s adjusted cap salary.

Additionally, cutting quarterback Matt Ryan before June 1 would mean the team would eat $18 million in dead cap but save an additional $17.2 million in cap space. If Ryan stayed in Indianapolis, the cap hit would be over $35 million. According to Spotrac, Ryan’s current contract covers over 15% of the Colts’ total salary cap alone.

Most Likely Cap Casualties

The uncertainty of the Colts’ next head coach as well as future quarterback raises question marks. Given Indianapolis’ cap situation, Ryan seems to be a reasonable cut, especially since he was benched twice and tied for the second-most turnovers in the league in 2022. It more than likely won’t be with the Colts, but Ryan said he wants to continue playing next year.

With the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, the Colts could turn to a rookie quarterback to reconfigure their offense as well as save money.

Another quarterback who might not be a Colt in 2023 is Nick Foles. Foles started two games before being ruled out for the season with a rib injury. With Sam Ehlinger still under contract, the Colts could save up to $2.1 million in cap space by cutting Foles.

Cornerback Kenny Moore II could also be a potential trade piece as he enters a contract year. Moore II’s cap hit is $7.6 million, but there isn’t any dead money attached to his deal in 2023. Since Moore II is coming off a down year statistics-wise as well as an ankle injury and stint on injured reserve, Indianapolis could pursue a trade.

Colts’ 2023 Free Agents

This offseason, the Colts have a total of 17 free agents — a mix of starters and depth players from 2022.

Among the most notable names are defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, wide receiver Parris Campbell and kicker Chase McLaughlin.

Compared to other Indianapolis free agents, Ngakoue will likely ask for the most money this offseason. In his one season as a Colt, Ngakoue had a team-high 9.5 sacks and added a forced fumble.

After being traded from the Las Vegas Raiders last offseason, Ngakoue earned a salary of $5 million and a guaranteed roster bonus of $8 million (total cap hit of $13 million) in 2022. Both sides were unable to agree to extension terms during his Colts stint, and Ngakoue might ask for a pay raise entering his age-28 season — especially after being named a Pro Bowl alternate.

Campbell, who dealt with numerous injuries his first three seasons, took strides in his fourth year by playing in all 16 games for the first time. He amassed 63 catches for 623 yards and three touchdowns, making a case for him to remain Indianapolis’ slot receiver in the future.

The Colts’ special teams unit was anchored by McLaughlin for most of 2022.

After Rodrigo Blankenship was cut Week 1, McLaughlin won the kicking job and signed to the active roster. He produced, making 30 of 36 field goal attempts (including going 9-for-12 from 50 or more yards). McLaughlin was also perfect on extra point attempts (21-for-21).

The Colts will make additional moves through the draft and other NFL free agents, but it will be interesting to see how general manager Chris Ballard addresses the Colts’ needs this offseason while managing salary cap spending.

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments