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The Indianapolis Colts' Five Best Contracts

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The Colts have a deep well of bargains as they reshape their roster in the Andrew Luck era. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.
The Colts have a deep well of bargains as they reshape their roster in the Andrew Luck era. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

In the NFL, it is almost impossible for any team to consistently contend for a championship if it fills its roster with bad contracts, or even just one horrendous deal. Unlike the MLB, where rich owners can throw millions and millions at any player they want without losing any sleep over it, the men who run NFL teams must be very wise and careful with their spending.

Since Ryan Grigson took over as general manager for the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, he has done an excellent job of staying far away from any such harmful contracts. If you look over the Colts roster and the salaries each player is making, it doesn’t take long to realize Indianapolis will be in strong financial shape for years to come.

But some contracts are bigger bargains than others. Here are the five most advantageous contracts for the Colts. This list takes into account both average salary and years remaining of the contract. All salary figures are courtesy of Spotrac.com

Andrew Luck – $5,527,000 per year; three years remaining

As I explained back on May 3, Andrew Luck will someday take his turn in the never ending “My contract is up and I’m an elite quarterback, so it’s my turn to make the most money in NFL history whether I deserve it or not” roulette. Luck will be more deserving than others (Joe Flacco!), and he will indeed make mega bucks following the 2015 season. But for now, his contract is one of the biggest bargains in the league. He’s only making five and a half million dollars, but proved last year he’s already an elite quarterback. Imagine how much he’ll improve in 2013, 2014 and 2015. He’ll be the most underpaid player in the NFL by the end of his fourth season.

Reggie Wayne – $5,833,333 per year; two years remaining

During the 2012 offseason, the Colts resigned Reggie Wayne for three years and $17.5 million. At the time, it seemed to make sense for both sides. Wayne was 33 years old at the time and was coming off a season in which he posted the fewest amount of receiving yards and receptions since 2003 and the least touchdowns since his rookie year in 2001. Three years at a regular starter’s salary seemed to be appropriate for someone who would still provide solid production but be nearly washed up by the time the deal ended. Instead, Wayne became rejuvenated. He made his sixth Pro Bowl thanks to his 106 receptions and 1,355 receiving yards, which both rank-best in a season for his career. Wayne proved he is still a superior receiver, but he makes money fit for a mediocre no. 1 option.

Dwayne Allen – $770,076 per year; three years remaining

The Colts took fellow tight end Coby Fleener in round two of the 2012 NFL Draft, but it was third-round pick Dwayne Allen who showed more potential in his rookie campaign. While Fleener struggled with injuries and missed four games, Allen caught more passes, yards and touchdowns while averaging more yards per catch and game. Allen also proved to be an incredible blocker for a rookie tight end. Fleener’s production was solid, too, and Colt fans should be very excited for the duo’s future. But combine Allen’s production and the fact that Fleener makes $565,336 more per year, and Allen’s contract is the one Grigson should be more proud of.

Jerrell Freeman – $480,000 per year; two years remaining

When inside linebacker Pat Angerer broke his foot during the 2012 preseason, Colts nation wondered how the team would replace the man who had racked up 148 tackles the previous season. Jerrell Freeman quickly answered that question. The 26-year-old rookie from the Canadian Football League stepped in and made everyone forget about Angerer. Freeman scored the first points for the Colts in 2012 when he intercepted Chicago Bear Jay Cutler’s pass and returned it for a touchdown only three-and-a-half minutes into the first game of the season. He went on to make 145 tackles, deflect two passes and force one fumble on the season. Although there are only two years remaining on his deal, it’s safe to say Freeman’s production far exceeds his pay scale.

T.Y. Hilton – $660,600 per year; three years remaining

T.Y. Hilton started out his rookie year slowly, only catching 24 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns over the Colts’ first nine games. But during their final seven matches, Hilton hauled in 26 receptions for 506 yards and five scores. That’s a jump from 14.79 yards per catch to 19.46. His yards-per-return ratio also jumped during that span from 8.21 to 15.42, including his lone return touchdown of the year against the Buffalo Bills. His overall production hasn’t yet made him worthy of big money, but if he continues to improve the way he has, he’ll be one of the league’s most feared weapons next year and for many more to come.