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Luck should insist on a percentage of the salary cap in future years

Tennessee Titans v Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 03: Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts watches the action during the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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The Colts want to pay quarterback Andrew Luck a lot of money. Luck presumably wants to be paid a lot of money by the Colts. And the Colts presumably want to avoid having to go through this again, for as long as possible.

For that reason, it’s no surprise that (as suggested by Ian Rapoport of NFL Media on Wednesday), Colts owner Jim Irsay originally wanted a 10-year deal. The structure has now narrowed to five or six years.

Regardless of duration, these long-term deals are getting done at a time when the salary cap is increasing by more than $10 million per year. By the time the last few years of the contract arrive, the player’s compensation will necessarily seem lower in comparison to the salary cap and the market reflected by contracts negotiated by other players.

That’s why players like Luck should be requesting not specific salary amounts in the final years of the contract but specific percentages of the salary cap. If, for example, Luck signs a $25 million-per-year deal when the cap is $155.3 million, that’s 16.1 percent of the cap. So if/when (when) the cap hits $200 million in 2020, Luck should be making $32.2 million.

There’s nothing in the labor deal that prevents tying compensation to a percentage of the cap, and multiple sources have told PFT that agents currently are attempting to hinge future pay to cap percentage for top-tier players. Teams predictably don’t like it.

Ultimately, teams may not have a choice. If Luck will commit to a long-term deal only if the Colts will commit to ensuring that his pay consistently reflects a fair portion of the salary cap going forward, the Colts will have two choices: Let him play year to year under the franchise tag or give Luck what he wants.