One of the more perplexing features of the NFL

is the salary cap. On the one hand Darius Leonard Color Rush Jersey , it seems straight forward. You have a salary cap that all teams must fit under. Simple, right?It gets more complicated in a hurry. After all, teams with very little cap space frequently sign marquee players to high dollar contracts. This is accomplished through bonuses, incentive-laden contract clauses, and back-loading a deal where the bulk of the contract’s value is paid in later years, where the team projects to have more cap space.This salary cap planning and “manipulation” is what NFL salary capologists like Mike Bluem spend their time considering every day. How can we plan for the future in a way that allows Chris Ballard and Jim Irsay to field a team with the most talent in the NFL for the longest period of time? We can’t simply spend all the way up to the salary cap every year, leaving no space available, and hope to keep the nucleus together. Major contracts for our own players will consistently require work as the old ones expire and new deals need to be made.Keeping in mind the needs for our own players, how much salary cap space do we have to work with to sign free agents and bring in outside talent? How do we work all of this together to make sure we stay above the NFL’s mandated 89 percent rule?This week, we’ll take a look at these questions and do our best to shed light on the NFL salary cap, 89 percent rule, and what fans might be able to expect Chris Ballard and Mike Bluem to do in 2019 and beyond.2019 Salary Cap and How the Colts FitOn December 11, 2018 the NFL announced that the 2019 salary cap is projected to be in the range of $187 - $191.1 million. For the purposes of this story, we’ll assume a salary cap of $189 million, which is an $11.8 million increase over 2018’s cap of $177.2 million — or 6.66%.In terms of the 89% minimum cash spend rule, utilizing the 2019 projection, the Colts have a four-year running salary cap total of $688,470,000. In order to meet the 89% expectation, the Colts must spend a total of $612,738,300. The team has currently spent $553,242,521. Therefore, Jim Irsay and Chris Ballard must spend at least $59,495,779 to stay on track to the 89% target from 2017-2020. They could spend this amount and still be under the 2019 projected salary cap, excluding carryover. In short, the team will have no issue maintaining a number well above 89% as a four-year running total compared to salary cap.In terms of projected salary cap space, the Colts currently lead the NFL with $115,413,981 in projected cap space per Spotrac. This is $19 million above the New York Jets , who have the second highest available salary cap space and $35 million over the Buffalo Bills who have the third. It is $54 million above the Houston Texans, who have the sixth highest cap available for 2019 and nearly $67 million above the Dallas Cowboys who have the tenth. There is not a team in the NFL who comes anywhere close to the Colts in terms of salary cap and cash available to make major moves in free agency.