Gregg Easterbrook’s TMQ, which now resides on ESPN.com’s Page 2 is a favorite of ours. Not so much for his analysis, which is hit and miss, but more for his off-beat take on the NFL circus.
His four paragraph preview of the Indianapolis Colts shows both his insight as well as the limitations of trying to cover all 32 NFL teams from a national level. Easterbrook is very much correct in his praise of Bill Polian, as we all can attest. On the other hand he suggests, in the manner of Ask Vic, that the Colts are headed straight for Cap Hell. Easterbrook provides little evidence of the impending doom, save the fact that the Colts led the league in payroll last year. He wonders aloud if the Colts gave away next year’s first rounder (which of course was used on Tony Ugoh) because Polian knows time is running short. Any fan or analyst who was actually paying attention knows that the Colts made this prescient move to prepare for the eventual loss of Tarik Glenn (which came much sooner than anyone could have known).
Of course we have been hearing this fire and brimstone talk for several years now and for several years now the Colts have let a surprising number of ‘important’ players walk. In case it isn’t completely obvious, the Colts spend big on a hand-full of guys, and get their other 48 players on the cheap. This has meant that the Colts can’t afford to involve themselves in the free agent market because they simply don’t have the cash to attract quality players. Polian’s strategy should continue to be sound so long as the salary cap continues to go up and their core group of superstars stay healthy, productive and active (not retired).
The Colts have tried to employ a difficult balancing act by making a prolonged championship run (nearly a decade) and in a sense facing the ills of cap hell at the same time (i.e. letting many good players walk). This is life in the cap era and the Colts thrive at it. Sorry to reiterate what we all already know, but I’m sick of people throwing out the possibility of cap hell without any supporting evidence. The annoying thing is Easterbrook bothers to take a much more fact-based look at the implications of the New England’s off-season wizardry.