02-13-2009, 09:11 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Some interesting insight into the new economic realities of the NFL.
Economy playing big role in Colts' offseason moves
By Michael Marot / Associated Press
Posted: February 13,
INDIANAPOLIS -- Colts president Bill Polian is working on his usual offseason to-do list.
He's negotiating with agents to keep players, preparing for the draft and dealing with NFL salary cap rules. But things are much tougher this year.
Polian said Thursday the economy and the NFL's revised cap rules have put the Colts in a financial pinch that is forcing the team to look at options, including a possible change of site for training camp.
"Like everyone else in the country, expenses are an issue for us," Polian said. "So we're looking at everything we do, be it travel costs or training camp or whatever. One glaring area is training camp, so we have to make a decision about where to go, and we have not made it."
The Colts have held camp in Terre Haute since 1999, but their contract with host Rose-Hulman has expired and they're now considering a return to Anderson, which was their preseason home from 1984-98 and is closer to Indianapolis.
Former coach Tony Dungy often said he enjoyed the time in Terre Haute, but new coach Jim Caldwell has not stated a preference. Polian said no decision has been made.
Training camp isn't the only money issue for Indianapolis.
The Colts recently announced they were cutting 25 jobs in the front office, and now they're trying to re-sign three prominent free agents -- Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday, cornerback Kelvin Hayden and running back Dominic Rhodes.
Polian would like to re-sign all three, but he considers Hayden, who won the starting job two years ago, the top priority.
Polian would not say how much Hayden wants, but he said negotiations with agent Fletcher Smith are not going well. That could force Polian to use the franchise tag, something he will consider.
Smith did not answer his cell phone and it was not accepting messages on Thursday.
To clear some room under the cap, Polian has already agreed to convert Dallas Clark's roster bonus into a signing bonus, spreading the money out over more years. And he may do the same with Bob Sanders. Still, Hayden's deal may determine how much money is left to keep other players and could force the team to cut other veterans.
The cuts come with a hefty price, too.
Because this is the last year of the salary cap, there are new rules.
If players with expensive bonus clauses are cut this year, teams will have to take the full value of the remaining bonus money. In the past, that money has been prorated over the life of a contract. So if a player received a $10 million bonus on a five-year deal, teams were charged $2 million per year. Now, if that player is cut with two years left on the contract, that team would take a $4 million cap hit in 2009.
Plus, Polian isn't even sure if the projected $123 million cap will stand. It could go up.
"We've never had a cap problem in 11 years, and this year, we will," Polian said. "It depends a lot on what happens, and we just don't know that yet."