Indianapolis Colts: Jairus Byrd

INDIANAPOLIS -- Who said the Indianapolis Colts aren't spending money?
That’s a slight exaggeration because the Colts really haven’t been big spenders during free agency, and it’s expected to stay that way.

The one thing the Colts did do, though, is fork over a lot of guaranteed money. They gave cornerback Vontae Davis $20 million in guaranteed money when they signed him to a four-year, $39 million contract shortly after free agency started on March 11.

Davis’ $20 million in guaranteed money is tied for the fifth most given out to a player since free agency started, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

Teams obviously think high of defensive players, as five of the six players with the highest guaranteed money are on defense. Safety Jairus Byrd received the most guaranteed money, with New Orleans giving him $26.3 million.

Left tackle Branden Albert is the only offensive player, as he received $26 million in guaranteed money from the Miami Dolphins.
Safety Antoine Bethea has started every game he’s played in during his eight-year NFL career. The Indianapolis Colts are the only team he’s put a uniform on during his professional career. But come March 11, he’ll step out into somewhat foreign territory when he becomes a free agent.

Bethea, like most who have or currently play for the Colts, has interest in re-signing with the organization.

At the same time, he is intrigued by testing the free-agent market.

“It’s my first time really testing the market, so kind of excited,” he said at the end of the season. “Want to finish my career here, but if not, hey, got to go on and start a new chapter in my career.”

The Colts have interest in re-signing Bethea, but you have to wonder how much they’re willing to pay him, especially since there’s a chance this could be the last big contract of his career.

Bethea, the backbone of the Colts' secondary, recorded his fourth straight season with at least 100 tackles. An issue the Colts have to decide is: Is Bethea and fellow safety LaRon Landry’s playing style too similar?

Bethea is more reliable than Landry, but Landry is heading into the second season of a four-year deal.

Here’s a look at some of the top safeties who will be available during free agency if the Colts and Bethea decide to go their separate ways:

 

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