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How much cap space do the Indianapolis Colts have in 2021?

The Colts enter the offseason fresh off a playoff berth and flush with cap space, but questions about their plans at quarterback linger.

Wild Card Round - Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Salary cap space

As of March 17, 2021, the Colts are projected to have $70,979,114 in cap space for 2021.

The Colts rolled over $8.3 million in 2020 cap space.

March 10 update: The salary cap has been set at $182.5 million.

The Indianapolis Colts’ tremendous 2020 season came to an end last Saturday when they fell to MVP candidate Josh Allen and the resurgent Buffalo Bills. The Colts, who trailed by 14 points early in the fourth quarter, managed an impressive comeback effort that fell three points short before time expired.

But while the Colts likely have not yet recovered emotionally from the heartbreaking defeat, their future remains bright. Unlike most of the other teams in the playoffs, Indianapolis finds itself in a very comfortable salary-cap situation. Only three franchises will enter the offseason projected with more space under the cap, putting general manager Chris Ballard in an advantageous position as he prepares the roster to take the next step in the organization’s pursuit of a Super Bowl.

The NFL powered through its 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The league played without fans in most stadiums with limited crowds in the remaining venues. The decrease in gate revenue will most likely result in a decrease in money shared between the 32 teams. This in turn means the salary cap has been decreased. The NFL has announced an official salary cap of $182.5 million, which is sure to result in some tough choices for many teams.

All salary cap information below comes courtesy of the NFLPA Public Salary Cap Report.

Notable contracts

The retirement plans of Philip Rivers loom over the franchise as it heads into the offseason. The 39-year-old quarterback gave no definitive indication as to whether he will hang up the cleats this offseason or return for next season, and it also remains unclear whether the Colts would simply welcome him back for another run given his age and gradual decline. Rivers accounted for $25 million in cap space this past year — a relative bargain by veteran-starter standards — but that number could realistically come down slightly in order to facilitate a deal for 2021.

Even assuming a new contract for Rivers, the Colts should have little trouble re-signing the veterans they want. Star wideout T.Y. Hilton hits the market and could easily fit under the cap at or around his most recent per-year average ($13 million). Hilton has missed more games in recent years (six over the past two years while playing through injuries in several others) and his productivity has waned, so Indianapolis might let him test the waters before putting pen to paper.

On defense, the Colts have three notable defenders with expiring contracts. Justin Houston played well during the past two seasons and did not miss a game, opening the door to a short-term extension. Likewise, cornerback Xavier Rhodes played better than expected on his one-year deal and might warrant another. Meanwhile, safety Malik Hooker seems more likely to depart after injuries prematurely ended his 2020 season, part of an unfortunate trend with the former first-round pick.