Inside the Cap: The Colts’ Fantastic Value at Inside Linebacker

Throughout the offseason I'll be doing a number of topical series, including some brief looks at interesting nuggets in the Colts' contracts for 2013 and beyond. 

While these looks will likely bounce around both the positive and negative side of things, today's note is an extremely positive one. 

When looking forward to the 2013 NFL free agency and NFL Draft, just about every position was noted as one that could use improvement in the offseason. Quarterback was largely ignored, due to Andrew Luck's promise, but outside of that, just one unit was ignored due to it's depth and overall talent: inside linebacker. 

Although there is no "star-level" talent at inside linebacker, the trio of Jerrell Freeman, Kavell Conner, and Pat Angerer was a solid one, with three 'backers  to fill the rotation that were relatively trustworthy compared to the rest of the roster. With the addition of Kelvin Sheppard in the offseason, the Colts added another linebacker with able skills in coverage, completing the Colts' rotation with Conner the dedicated run stopper and Freeman and Angerer the well-rounded linebackers of the group. 

The brilliant thing about the group, however, is not their respective talent, but the value they provide due to their extremely cheap contracts. 

The foursome is the cheapest group on the Colts' roster outside of tight end, with the Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener's rookie contracts taking up very little cap room. 

Here is the 2013 cap numbers for those linebackers, led by Pat Angerer. 

Player 2013 Cap Hit
Pat Angerer $1,222,500
Kelvin Sheppard $644,243
Kavell Conner $641,309
Jerrell Freeman $480,000

The four 'backers total just under $3 million, or about $1.8 million less than the dead money left over from Gary Brackett's contract ($4.8 million) that hits the cap this year. 

Freeman's contract is the biggest deal of the four, as one of Grigson's best moves in 2012. Freeman's three-year, $1.44 million contract has two more years left on it, counting just $480k against the cap in 2013, and $570k in 2014. That number is low enough in 2013 that it may not even end up being one of the top 51 contracts on the team, and may not even qualify for the total cap number. 

Sheppard's rookie deal also still has two years on it, and he'll count for just under $750k in 2014. 

Angerer and Conner's rookie deals will expire after this season, and the Colts will have to make some hard decisions on who to keep, and where to go with the position for the future. A large part of it will be determined by their play in the coming season, of course. 

No matter what happens in the 2014 offseason, however, it's hard to imagine that the Colts will get this kind of deal on an entire position group like they will for the inside linebackers in 2013. 

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.