Saturday, August 6, 2022

Two Colts on the 2023 NFL’s Best Free Agents list

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According to Spotrac, the Indianapolis Colts will continue to be among the leaders in salary caps in the 2023 season. But a good chunk of that spot could be taken by two players already on the list.

Those two players for the Colts are upcoming free agent offensive guard Quenton Nelson and edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue. Both players were included in a list of the Top 25 NFL Free Agents for 2023 by NFL.com’s NFL Editor Gregg Rosenthal.

Nelson ended up #3 on the list. Only Lamar Jackson and Tom Brady were ahead of him as Nelson was ranked as the top non-quarterback set to become a free agent next March. Ngakoue was ranked 16th and placed second among the Edge Rushers.

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All media pundits’ contract predictions this summer predicted Nelson would become the highest-paid guard in the NFL.

ESPN staff writer Jeremy Fowler put it simply when he reported in May that several veteran agents told him, “Nelson is going to break the bank.” Fowler estimated that Nelson could earn an average of $20 million a year.

Bleacher Report NFL writer Maurice Moton made a similar prediction in June, writing that Nelson would receive a five-year, $95 million contract with a $50 million guarantee.

Jacksonville Jaguars’ Brandon Scherff is currently the highest-paid guard in the league with an average annual salary of $16.5 million. Whether with the Colts or freelance, Nelson is likely to be paid more.

But even though Nelson went to training camp without a contract after 2022, it’s still very likely he’s going nowhere.

“It will be a shock if Nelson doesn’t eventually sign the largest guard contract in NFL history with the Colts,” Rosenthal wrote. “Even so, there hasn’t been much talk of a deal being finalized.”

Nelson has reached the Pro Bowl in all four of his NFL seasons and made the first-team All Pro three times.

The 2022 season is likely to be an important one for Ngakoue. All contract years apply to each player but Ngakoue is already joining his fifth team this autumn before turning 28.

He has been prolific in his career, recording at least 8.0 sacks in each of his first six NFL seasons. This makes it curious as to why he can’t find a permanent home.

“It’s not a good sign that Ngakoue is on his fifth team, but when used properly he absolutely provides edge pace,” Rosenthal wrote.

A lot of things will change between now and the start of free agency, but as of August 6, Spotrac predicts the Colts will have $16.3 million in salary caps by the start of the 2023 offseason. That amount of space assumes the NFL salary cap will increase by $10 million — in all likelihood it will actually increase by more than $10 million, but it’s also possible that it won’t increase that much.

Assuming the Colts re-sign Nelson, it will be interesting to see if general manager Chris Ballard makes room to keep Ngakoue as well. It could all depend on how well Ngakoue does for Indianapolis this season.

Ngakoue has 55.5 sacks, 173 combined tackles, 119 quarterback hits, 20 forced fumbles, and 13 pass defenses in six NFL seasons. He had 10.0 sacks, 23 quarterback hits and 28 combined tackles for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021.

A lot of things will change between now and the start of free agency, but as of August 6, Spotrac predicts the Colts will have $16.3 million in salary caps by the start of the 2023 offseason. That amount of space assumes the NFL salary cap will increase by $10 million — in all likelihood it will actually increase by more than $10 million, but it’s also possible that it won’t increase that much.

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