Potential Colts Cap Casualty: Greg Toler


As another edition of our continuing “Potential Colts Cap Casualty” series, we’ll take a look at another veteran Indianapolis Colts player that could be under consideration for possible release this offseason.

The player we’ll look at, like LaRon Landry before him, happens to play in the defensive secondary as well in Greg Toler. The 30 year old cornerback had 57 tackles and 2 interceptions in 15 starts for the Colts this past regular season.

Jan 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts cornerback Greg Toler (28) during the third quarter in the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 6th-year cornerback was originally signed to a 3-year, $15MM deal in March of 2013. While Toler is overpaid, he’s at times flashed pure brilliance as a press cornerback when healthy. The Colts have seen his highs, as evident by his lockdown coverage against the Denver Broncos in the Divisional Round of this year’s playoffs, as well as his lows with his regular season performances against the Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 8) and Dallas Cowboys (Week 16) immediately coming to mind.

However, if Toler were consistently brilliant, he’d be paid like a #1 cornerback, which is why the Colts were able to afford him in the 1st place. Fortunately for Toler and the Colts, they don’t need him to be a shutdown cornerback, as they already have that in Vontae Davis. However, they do need someone to pair with Davis, who can play solid press coverage, which Toler tends to do more often than not in theory.

Still, if you’re a big proponent of advanced statistics, which I’ll wholeheartedly admit to, then you can’t help but look at Toler’s terrible -10.4 overall grade (including playoffs) per ProFootballFocus (subscription) and not be disgusted. It effectively placed him as the 99th cornerback among 110 qualifiers. Maybe the Colts should look to do better after all, but going off the eyeball test, he didn’t look like one of the league’s worst cornerbacks this past season despite his inconsistent play.

By playing alongside Vontae Davis, it’s possible that Toler was simply picked on more than the average cornerback by opposing quarterbacks because of Davis consistently shutting down his receiver on the right side of the field. The advanced statistics by ProFootballFocus tend to support this notion, as Toler was tied for the most targeted cornerback with 125 targets on the season. While it could also be a case of receivers simply getting open on him in man coverage, it’s likely more some combination of the two.

2015 Cap hit: $5.8MM

Potential “Dead Money” if Released: $333K

2015 Cap Savings if Released: $5.5MM

Sep 28, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts cornerback Greg Toler (28) against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Outlook: Regarding Toler, the defense could probably do a bit better in free agency as a #2 cornerback, but they could also do a lot worse. Pure press cornerbacks aren’t exactly a dime a dozen to find, and while Toler has been either “hit or miss” for most of his Colts tenure, he really does makes the defense’s secondary awfully tough when he’s on his “A-game”.

With dependable slot cornerback Darius Butler also a free agent, it may not make sense for the Colts to potentially have to add two new starting caliber cornerbacks this offseason. Looking at this offseason’s free agent market, there’s not exactly a plethora of quality cornerback options either. The Houston Texans Kareem Jackson would be a clear upgrade as a free agent, but he’s set to obtain a lucrative contract, which will be a lot pricier than the last year remaining on Toler’s deal. There’s also the San Francisco 49ers Perrish Cox and Arizona Cardinals veteran Antonio Cromartie, who could be proven alternatives at cornerback as well.

All things considered, and it looks like Toler will return to play out the last year of his contract with the Colts. Whether he’s here beyond that remains to be seen; however, when he’s going right, the Colts have a really strong cornerback group with him, Vontae Davis, and Darius Butler in the fold. Unless the Colts think they can sign an upgrade for a reasonable price, then all signs point to Toler remaining a member of their defense.

Hopefully, the Colts will simply see more of “Good Toler” than “Bad Toler” though going forward.

Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts cornerback Greg Toler (28) against the Denver Broncos in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Colts defeated the Broncos 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports