3 moves Colts could make to clear more cap space ahead of free agency

Jaleel Grandberry
Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard during the NFL
Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard during the NFL / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Colts, Matt Ryan
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (2) walks on the field Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, before a game / Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY

2. Colts can move Matt Ryan to clear up cap space

This is an obvious move that many are expecting to come sooner or later. Matt Ryan doesn’t have much of a future in Indy and he has the biggest 2023 cap hit on the team, and once Indianapolis moves on from him and his contract, the team will be in a pretty good standing and have plenty of cap space to work with this offseason.

Ryan’s 2023 cap hit is $35.2 million, easily the most on the team. However, his dead cap is only $18 million, so if he was released, the Colts would get roughly 17 million additional dollars in cap space. Without any other moves being made, that would put Indy’s cap space around $28 million. The only thing that would be better for Indianapolis is finding a trade partner.

If the Colts found a trade partner for Matt Ryan that’s willing to accept all of his contract, it would be a miracle, but it would also free up around $35 million in cap space. With so many quarterback-needy teams looking for veteran help, its possible that Ryan could be traded for a late-round pick, but whatever team trading for Ryan would certainly ask Indy to take on some of his remaining salary.

Whike it’s expected that the Colts will move on from Ryan, they haven’t done so yet, and they haven’t even committed to moving on from Ryan. General manager, Chris Ballard, has just been honest about the fact that Ryan’s situation took a backseat to Indy’s coaching search. At the Combine, Ballard did say that he and head coach Shane Steichen will start discussing Ryan’s future as free agency approaches.