The Colts have had a rough time of things since they moved on unceremoniously from Peyton Manning in 2012. After their record-setting quarterback had neck surgery and missed a season the Colts decided to use their #1 pick on a young quarterback and moved on from Manning. While Peyton went on to make two Super Bowls and win one in Denver, the Colts have made it to just one AFC championship game where they were easily brushed aside by the Patriots.
With Andrew Luck at the helm the Colts offense has been solid, even brilliant at times, but the rest of the roster has struggled to be even average within the NFL. The defense especially has been a problem for the Colts and is one of the main reasons that Chuck Pagano was fired after the 2017 season and Frank Reich was hired. Reich, who won a Super Bowl as offensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles, emphasized improvements around Andrew Luck and invested in protecting him and bringing the defense up to scratch. These moves pushed the Colts into the playoffs in 2018.
In Madden 19 these improvements have made them a solid team. They get a 79 overall rating when you choose them in Franchise Mode. Within that there is an 85 rated offense and a 79 rated defense. This shows you exactly the kind of team the Colts still are and that they have a long way to go before they can really compete for a Super Bowl. But how can you do that within the constraints of the current roster and the salary cap?
Indianapolis Colts Salary Cap
The Colts are absolutely swimming in cap space. They start Madden 19’s franchise mode with 66 players on the roster and $70.2 million in space. This means you have to cut 13 players, which opens up even more space.
There are a massive 31 players that can be cut without receiving any cap penalty, and while none of them will give you much more cap space you don’t need to make any cuts for salary reasons.
The Colts are also locked in to spending just $91.25 million in 2019, meaning they will have even more salary cap space in season 2. This means that you can very quickly transform this roster into whatever you want it to be.
Indianapolis Colts Impending Free Agents
With that much cap space available you can simply re-sign every impending free agent with the Colts, but you should really be selective about who you hand new contracts to.
There are 32 players on the last year of their contract with the Colts. The best of which is Pierre Desir (80 OVR). That’s not an amazing rating for a cornerback, but the important thing to recognize here is that you can’t completely overhaul the roster in one offseason. There are some players, like Desir, that you will need to re-sign with the aim of making them #3 or 4 on the depth chart rather than #1. Defensive tackle Al Woods and strong safety Clayton Geathers also fall into this category. Veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri is worth holding onto for another year provided he doesn’t retire and guard Mark Glowinski is a solid guard that can be kept on for now.
Other key impending free agents: Matthias Farley (SS), Ryan grant (WR), Dontrelle Inman (WR)
Indianapolis Colts Roster Needs
The Colts do not need a quarterback, and that is a very powerful place to start from even if they had nothing else. Fortunately, they do. They drafted a superstar guard in Quenton Nelson and a terrific linebacker in Darius Leonard last year. This immediately fills two holes, while players like Anthony Castonzo, TY Hilton, Jack Doyle, and Malik Hooker are also very solid players that do not need replacing.
That’s a good foundation and you simply need to start adding in the pieces around them. Madden 19 thinks otherwise, but I would suggest that cornerback is the biggest need for the Colts. Desir is their best player at just 80 overall, and the only player with a 90+ speed rating at corner is Chris Milton who has woeful coverage abilities. The defensive line and middle linebacker spots also need improving. The Colts have very little pass rush at the start of Franchise Mode, and with the front needing a lot of overhaul you can establish a 3-4 or 4-3 defense, starting with finding your pass rusher. There are several good pass rushers that could hit free agency after season 1. If you can sign Jadeveon Clowney then you should create yourself a 3-4 defense, but if it is DeMarcus Lawrence that is available then sign him and stick with the current 4-3 formation.
On the offensive side the offensive line does need a little improving at the right guard and right tackle spot, while more depth in skill positions is needed. Hilton and Doyle, along with Eric Ebron and Marlon Mack, are good, but a better #2 wide receiver and a second strong running back would be very good ways of improving the consistency of the offense.
The season 1 Colts are not close to a Super Bowl, but they have the cap space to improve very quickly and if you draft well then even by season 2 the Colts could be challenging the powers that be in the AFC.