What’s the Number?

John Clayton threw a wet blanket on the hopes of Colts fans dreaming of big free agency spending yesterday. 

In what amounts to the fifth different number I’ve read in the last week, Clayton says the Colts are plumb out of cap room.

Most sites haven’t been showing their work, but I’ve seen the following results in the past weeks:

$65 million (not counting Peyton)

$20-23 million (if Peyton signed long term)

$14 million (no word on the methodology, but I’m assuming Peyton as franchised)

$2.7 million OVER (Clayton gives no clues to how it was calculated).

My own estimates are closer to the $15-20 million range depending on how Peyton is signed.

There are still questions that I haven’t seen any answer to like how unaccounted for bonus money for players cut in 2010 is counted. Do the Colts have dead money from Bob Sanders or not? 

My best guess is that Clayton’s figures are off and the Colts have some wiggle room, but not a lot. Hopes for a spending bonzana are almost assuredly misplaced, however.

The Colts should have some flexibility to address their major outstanding needs (a starting safety, a veteran tackle, another DT) whether that’s by resigning their own players or by bringing in new ones.

Be it by philosophy or by spending constraints, don’t expect the Colts to be major free agency players.

And never forget: that’s a good thing.