Andrew Luck

Colts Considered Delaying Luck’s Decision

Before Andrew Luck officially retired from the NFL, the Colts considered a plan that would give the quarterback a chance to reverse course. There was a discussion in the Colts’ front office about placing Luck on injured reserve in order to postpone his final decision, ESPN.com’s Ed Werder tweets

[RELATED: More Fallout From Andrew Luck’s Retirement]

Of course, that’s not what transpired – although it wasn’t an easy call, Luck was firm in his decision to walk away from the game in his prime years. Plagued by an incomprehensible amount of rehab and physical pain, the former No. 1 overall pick is walking away from the NFL to focus on other interests.

From a football perspective, the Colts are in better shape than most other teams would be in this scenario. They are very are high on their new QB1, Jacoby Brissett, though they may need to find a new QB2 to backstop him. As of this writing, Swag Kelly stands to be Brissett’s backup, though he’ll first have to serve a two-game suspension.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

More Fallout From Andrew Luck’s Retirement

Earlier this morning, we brought you all the fallout from Andrew Luck‘s shocking decision to retire. Not surprisingly given how big of an event it was, there’s now even more fallout to cover. One of the nuggets we heard earlier was how the Colts weren’t going to try to recoup any of the money from Luck’s contract that they could’ve under the CBA. If they had chosen to, they apparently wouldn’t have faced too much resistance.

Luck “was open to returning at least a portion of the money that had been paid to him,” a source told Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. Colts owner Jim Irsay ultimately declined, and let Luck keep a whopping $24.8MM that he could’ve gotten back. Robinson speculates that Irsay could’ve made the call as a gesture of “good will that keeps a door open should Luck ever recuperate physically and hope to return to the NFL.” That’s certainly a reasonable take considering Irsay not very subtly indicated he was hoping Luck would change his mind during his own press conference.

Here’s the latest on everything related to Luck:

  • There’s been some slight confusion over the timeline of Luck’s decision, and Stephen Holder of The Athletic sought to clear the air (Twitter link). After speaking with sources, Holder writes that he is “now even more convinced in the timeline that Luck and Colts laid out last night. Luck was working toward a return and the Colts fully expected that return to happen.” There have been some rumblings that Luck was considering walking away further back, but Holder doesn’t believe that to be the case.
  • If Luck does want to come back, it isn’t going to be in 2019. The Colts have officially placed him on the reserve/retired list, which means Luck would have to clear waivers to come back this season, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). As Garafolo points out, that would never happen. Rumors will likely swirl for years to come about a potential Luck comeback, but the door seems to be slammed shut on 2019 at the very least.
  • It was only a matter of time before someone brought this up. In an article from early this afternoon, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com floats the possibility of Luck playing in the XFL. The reason this connection was always going to be made by somebody is that Luck’s father, Oliver Luck, is the commissioner of Vince McMahon’s upstart league. Florio himself acknowledges the idea is far-fetched, and it’s hard to imagine any scenario that it happens even though the ten-game season would be less taxing on his body. For starters, Luck would have to receive permission from the Colts to play in another league since he’s still under contract, and that seems extremely unlikely to say the least.
  • Luck’s sudden retirement sent shockwaves around the league. To get a sense of what other organizations were feeling, Mike Sando of The Athletic talked to coaches and executives around the league about his decision. One exec compared Luck’s handling of the situation favorably to the way Brett Favre handled his multiple retirements. “Completely healthy, Favre makes the Packers wait, he’s down in Mississippi, he’s taking private jets and has trouble deciding, and finally they trade him,” the exec said. “Luck was straining through rehab and probably going to all the meetings. He had to face the cameras and get booed instead of keeping it quiet and making the decision after the season if he has to sit out. This is much more courageous. This is what defines him.”

 

Fallout From Andrew Luck’s Retirement

Andrew Luck‘s decision to step away from the game of football at the age of 29 will go down as one of the most surprising retirement decisions in the history of the league. But in his impromptu press conference last night, Luck kept using the word “exhausted,” as Zak Keefer of The Athletic observes. Luck’s latest health concern, a calf/ankle ailment, was just part of that exhaustion.

Keefer sums up Luck’s run of major injury woes over the past few years quite nicely. As Keefer writes, Luck “once played an entire quarter against the eventual Super Bowl champs with both a lacerated kidney and a partially torn abdomen muscle – and led the Colts to a win. He played half a season with torn cartilage in two ribs. There was an injured thumb, a bum ankle, at least one diagnosed concussion and the torn labrum in his throwing shoulder that nearly cost him his career at age 28.”

All of those issues forced Luck to move on to the next chapter of his life much sooner than he wanted. Anyone who watched his presser could see the anguish in his face, how his smile didn’t quite reach his eyes, and how painful it was for him to make this decision. But as Luck himself said, “[i]t’s been four years of this injury-pain cycle. And for me to move forward in my life the way I want to, it didn’t involve football.”

Here’s just some of the fallout from Luck’s stunning announcement:

  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that Luck and the Colts have reached an agreement wherein the team will not attempt to recoup any money to which it would be entitled under the CBA. As Joel Corry of CBS Sports notes, the team could have recovered $24.8MM from the former No. 1 overall pick ($12.8MM of the $32MM signing bonus he was entitled to under his current contract, plus two $6MM March 2019 roster bonuses). If the Colts did seek repayment, any money they got back would have counted as a salary cap credit (Twitter links). Colts fans are already taking plenty of heat for booing Luck during the team’s preseason game last night — which Luck admitted was hurtful — and it would not have been a good look if the team were to try and seek repayment (especially in light of how the club mismanaged his early career, as Conor Orr of SI.com summarizes).
  • The Colts are high on their new QB1, Jacoby Brissett, but as Stephen Holder of The Athletic says, the team needs a veteran signal-caller behind Brissett, and it’s likely that GM Chris Ballard is already working feverishly to make a move. Indianapolis has enough draft capital to swing a trade of some kind (Twitter links).
  • Indianapolis may well remain competitive with Brissett at the helm, and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report says team brass does not believe the Colts will be drafting high enough in 2020 to land one of next year’s top QB prospects (Twitter link).
  • Colts owner Jim Irsay sounds like a man who hopes that Luck will unretire at some point. Irsay said, “[y]ou know, I don’t rule it out. Because as quickly as this thing sort of descended on us, and as mysterious as it was coming upon us, it could leave the same way” (h/t Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk). It was clear that Luck had thought long and hard about his decision, so as shocking as his retirement is, it would be even more shocking if he were to return to the field as a player. But Irsay is not ready to give up hope.
  • Irsay estimates that Luck left about $500MM on the table by retiring early given the ever-increasing QB salaries and the $64MM he was already due under the remaining three years of his current deal. As Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network tweets, that’s probably an accurate assessment. But if Luck is willing to walk away from that kind of cash, it seems as though he really is retired for good.
  • Luck’s contract will toll, so if he were to reverse course and come back, Indianapolis would hold his rights for three more seasons, as Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reminds us (via Twitter).
  • We heard last night that the Colts had known for at least two weeks that Luck was seriously considering retirement, but Ballard says that Luck only began discussing the possibility with the team Monday (less then a week ago), as Albert Breer of SI.com tweets.

Andrew Luck Retiring From NFL

Truly shocking news, as Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is retiring from the NFL, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Schefter reports there will be a press conference on Sunday to formally announce the news. He writes that Luck “is mentally worn down, and now checking out.”

To say this is stunning news would be a massive understatement. In a separate tweet, Schefter writes that Luck has already met with Colts owner Jim Irsay to tell him of his decision. Luck has been dealing with a mysterious calf/ankle injury, although it wasn’t thought to be serious. The latest reporting indicated that the Colts were still hoping Luck would be ready for Week 1.

Indianapolis had known for “at least two weeks” that Luck was seriously considering retirement, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). While the news apparently didn’t completely catch the organization off-guard, it doesn’t make it all that much easier to swallow for them.

In one of the most unprecedented moves in recent league history, Luck will be hanging up his cleats at the age of 29. There will be endless discussion in the coming days about what caused him to step away, although injuries are obviously part of it. Luck was plagued with a shoulder injury that lingered for a couple of years and ended up costing him the entire 2017 season. The process was mentally exhausting and always shrouded in secrecy, but he eventually worked his way back onto the field for the start of last year.

He made a triumphant return to Indy, leading them to wins in nine of their last ten games to sneak into the playoffs. He helped the Colts topple the Texans in the first round of the playoffs before they fell to the Chiefs. The team has a lot of good young talent and made major strides under head coach Frank Reich last year.

They were expected to be a Super Bowl contender heading into 2019 and were one of the most buzzed about teams this offseason. Luck’s lower leg injury was starting to get concerning due to the limited information available, but obviously nobody ever saw this coming. With Luck stepping away, Jacoby Brissett will now take over as the team’s starter.

Brissett is widely regarded as one of the league’s best backups, so things could be worse for the Colts. The team has been expressing confidence in Brissett all offseason, which in hindsight might’ve been foreshadowing this news. After being acquired in a trade with the Patriots, Brissett started most of the 2017 season for Indy. He finished with 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, making his situation all the more interesting.

Luck’s retirement is obviously a huge boost to the rest of the AFC South, and he was 11-0 in his career against the Titans. The Colts will still have a chance to be competitive given Reich’s coaching and Brissett’s competence, but it’s hard not to see this as removing them from the list of AFC contenders.

Even with Brissett in tow, the Colts will likely be in the market for a veteran quarterback now. Their only backups are Phillip Walker and Chad Kelly, and neither has ever attempted a regular season pass. Kelly is also suspended for the first two games of the season, so he won’t be able to backup Brissett until Week 3.

It’s anyone’s guess as to what Luck will do now in his post-playing career. Given his young age, there will surely be rumors of a comeback for as long as he stays retired. Luck was apparently on the field at the Colts’ preseason game when the news broke, casually chatting with teammates, according to a tweet from Stephen Holder of The Athletic.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC South Rumors: Texans, Colts, Lee, Titans

Drafted to be the Texans‘ hopeful left tackle of the future, Tytus Howard has since been relocated to left guard (with Matt Kalil winning the left-edge job) and has now broken a finger. The rookie blocker suffered the break in Houston’s preseason game against Detroit on Saturday night, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Coming from a Division I-FCS program, and tasked with learning one of the most difficult positions at which to acclimate in the NFL, Howard needs all the reps he can get early on in his career. But this malady is not expected to keep him out of the Texans’ Week 1 game against the Saints, Wilson adds. Howard is in line to be the team’s starting left guard. This injury, in theory, could force the team to adjust those plans.

Here is the latest from the AFC South, shifting to perhaps the division’s most important player:

  • Frank Reich does not want to wait much longer on Andrew Luck‘s recovery. The second-year Colts coach wants to name his Week 1 starter shortly after the team’s third preseason game, and while Luck doing pregame drills before Indianapolis’ second August contest was a positive development, this saga may not wrap up in a week. It’s been the side-to-side movements that have bothered Luck’s ankle and calf injuries most, Mike Wells of ESPN.com notes. But Luck not only did some lateral-movement work before Saturday’s game, Wells adds the 29-year-old passer has done workouts like that in private in recent days. The Colts, who will re-evaluate Luck midweek, are cautiously optimistic he will be available for Week 1.
  • Another AFC South talent is uncertain for Week 1, but Marqise Lee returned to Jaguars practice this week. This obviously increases the sixth-year wideout’s chances for being available come September. Doug Marrone expressed doubt about this recently, but Lee — sidelined throughout 2018 due to ACL damage — returned to work Saturday.
  • The Colts‘ injury situation at receiver has helped one of their incumbents. Once thought to be a bubble player, Chester Rogers is headed back to Indy’s 53-man roster. The former Ryan Grigson-era draft choice is the Colts’ top return man, Reich said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson, on Twitter). Parris Campbell remains sidelined because of a hamstring injury, Erickson tweets.
  • Indianapolis’ revamped receiving corps will not include Reece Fountain. Reich confirmed the 2018 fifth-rounder underwent ankle surgery Friday and will miss the season (Twitter links via CBS4’s Mike Chappell).
  • The Titans are still deciding on their right guard. While veteran utility man Kevin Pamphile would seemingly have the inside track to start opposite Rodger Saffold next month, the team drafted Nate Davis in Round 3 and has 2017 sixth-rounder Corey Levin. Although Pamphile started opposite Saffold on Saturday, each of these players are in the mix. Former Dolphins draftee Jamil Douglas may be in the running as well. Mike Vrabel does not plan to name a starter until after the Titans’ dress-rehearsal preseason game next weekend, Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com notes. Douglas has not played in a game since 2016; Levin suited up for all 16 Titan games last season. An injury limited Pamphile to three 2018 contests (two starts).

“Guarded Optimism” Andrew Luck Will Be Available For Week 1

The Colts have “guarded optimism” that Andrew Luck will be ready for Week 1 of the regular season, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

On Wednesday, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reported Luck’s Week 1 availability was “really in question,” and noted that unless the star quarterback makes a “miraculous recovery,” backup Jacoby Brissett could be under center. However, Garafolo also indicated Indianapolis felt as though it “finally” had a handle on the exact nature of Luck’s injury, which could have led to today’s “optimistic” report.

Luck originally underwent an MRI on his calf in March that revealed a strain, but began to experience ankle trouble in May. Another test Monday revealed Luck could be dealing with some sort of high-ankle issue, though it’s not evident if he’s been diagnosed with a dreaded high-ankle sprain. At the moment, it doesn’t appear Luck is experiencing any Achilles trouble.

Luck won’t play during the preseason, and his absence will give Brissett even more time to prepare for the regular season. Brissett, of course, was the Colts’ full-time starter in 2017 when Luck st out the year with a shoulder injury. In 15 starts, Brissett completed 58.8% of his passes for 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Among the 29 quarterbacks with at least 300 attempts that season, Brissett finished 22nd in adjusted net yards per attempt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Andrew Luck’s Week 1 Availability “Really In Question”

Colts head coach Frank Reich prefers to make a decision on his Week 1 starting quarterback following his club’s third preseason game, and it may not be Andrew Luck who’s under center. Unless Luck makes a “miraculous recovery,” backup Jacoby Brissett us likely to start for Indianapolis in its season opener, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Additionally, Garafolo reports the Colts “finally” feel as though they have a handle on the exact nature of Luck’s injury. Rather than just a calf or just an ankle issue, it seems as though Luck is dealing with an ailment that’s been caused by “accumulation over time.” What exactly that means for his recovery is unclear, but Indianapolis is now confident it can help its star quarterback heal.

Luck originally underwent an MRI on his calf in March that revealed a strain, but began to experience ankle trouble in May. Another test Monday revealed Luck could be dealing with some sort of high-ankle issue, though it’s not evident if he’s been diagnosed with a dreaded high-ankle sprain. At the moment, it doesn’t appear Luck is experiencing any Achilles trouble.

Luck won’t play during the preseason, and his absence will give Brissett even more time to prepare for the regular season. Brissett, of course, was the Colts’ full-time starter in 2017 when Luck st out the year with a shoulder injury. In 15 starts, Brissett completed 58.8% of his passes for 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Among the 29 quarterbacks with at least 300 attempts that season, Brissett finished 22nd in adjusted net yards per attempt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Andrew Luck, Colts

Andrew Luck remains sidelined, an issue that has obviously caused some concern for the Colts community due to the quarterback’s recent past. Chris Ballard provided an update on this nagging lower-leg injury, which has persisted for most of the offseason.

Luck initially went in for an MRI on his calf in March, which revealed a strain. But the quarterback began experiencing ankle-area pain by May, Mike Chappell of CBS4 tweets. A test Monday revealed there is an issue in the “high ankle” area, which can be a long-running problem (Twitter link). Over the course of dealing with this calf malady, Luck encountered the ankle trouble, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets. Ballard, however, ruled out the prospect his quarterback has an Achilles problem, per the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson (on Twitter).

The Colts are now almost certain to hold Luck out of the preseason slate, Ballard said, adding that the 29-year-old passer will need a certain amount of practice time to be ready for Week 1 (Twitter links). The third-year GM, however, added “This is not 2017,” in terms of the persistent trouble with which Luck is dealing. Luck missed all 16 games that season due to a shoulder injury. He returned to play in all 16 last year, steering the Colts to the playoffs.

No surgery is planned at this point, Ballard added, noting the Colts believe their centerpiece player is progressing (Twitter link). Given that Luck has been held out for so long, his September availability probably should be a concern. The Colts are not ready to go there yet, with Ballard non-committal on Luck’s Week 1 status (per Mike Wells of ESPN.com), but they are certainly looking smart for refusing to trade Jacoby Brissett. The team repeatedly rebuffed such proposals since acquiring the backup from New England.

The Colts open their season with road games against the Chargers and Titans. They begin their Indianapolis slate in Week 3 against the Falcons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC South Notes: Jaguars, Colts, Luck, Allen

Jaguars rookie linebacker Quincy Williams is expected to miss four-to-six weeks after suffering a slight tear in his meniscus, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Williams, a third-round pick in the 2019 draft, will need to undergo surgery, but given his recovery timeline, he shouldn’t be expected to miss more than a few regular season games. Per Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com, Williams was the “leading candidate” to take over for the retired Telvin Smith as Jacksonville’s weakside linebacker. Williams, the older brother of third overall pick Quinnen Williams, will now likely be replaced by either D.J. Alexander or Ramik Wilson.

Here’s more from the AFC South:

  • Andrew Luck‘s calf strain is still affecting his ability to practice. The Colts quarterback didn’t participate in practice sessions at all this week and will be re-evaluated on Saturday, per Mike Chappell of CBS 4 Indy, who notes Luck has appeared hesitant while throwing. “Just opening up a little bit,’’ Luck said. “It’s like, ‘I feel like something is going to yank, something is going to pull trying to change direction aggressively.’ That is something that you need to do to play football, you know? And I am not there yet.’’ Luck doesn’t believe his calf injury could lead to an Achilles issue.
  • Only one NFL rookie received a contract with no offset language in 2019: Jaguars first-round edge rusher Josh Allen, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Without offset language, Jacksonville won’t receive a cap credit if Allen is cut midway through his rookie contract and signs elsewhere. If such language were included, the Jaguars would be off the hook for whatever salary Allen was able to earn on the open market.
  • In case you missed it, the Texans gave veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph a raise.

Injury Notes: Brown, Luck, Gore, Watt, Jones, Lawrence

Here’s the latest on all the injuries to big names as training camps get underway across the league:

  • There was a brief uproar earlier when it was mysteriously announced that Antonio Brown would start camp on the Raiders’ non-football injury list. However, the as of now undisclosed issue that caused Brown to be placed on the NFI was described to Field Yates of ESPN as “very minor” (Twitter link). Further, Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune tweets that the Raiders have known of the injury for two weeks, and that Brown will probably only miss a week of camp time. Despite the initial panic, it doesn’t sound like this is anything you need to monitor going forward.
  • Andrew Luck was sidelined by a calf injury during the Colts’ offseason program, which sparked some concerns about his Achilles. However, Luck told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network today “my Achilles is not at extra risk of anything. It’s fine” (Twitter link). In a separate tweet, Pelissero notes Luck participated in team drills today, and that his limited workload has only been precautionary.
  • Speaking of the NFI, Bills GM Brandon Beane said that running back Frank Gore has been removed from it, per longtime Bills beat reporter Joe Buscaglia (Twitter link). Gore had been dealing with a minor injury, but has passed his physical and is cleared to practice. Gore will be competing for carries in a crowded Buffalo backfield that also features LeSean McCoy and rookie Devin Singletary.
  • J.J. Watt started camp on the Texans’ PUP list, but he’s now been removed and cleared to practice, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Watt was limited to just eight combined games in 2016 and 2017 due to injuries, but he played a full 16-game slate last year. Watt wasn’t the only Texan to get cleared, as James Palmer of NFL Network tweets that DeAndre Hopkins was also cleared and activated from PUP.
  • Byron Jones, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford and Noah Brown will start camp on the PUP list for the Cowboys, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Fortunately, Dallas is expecting all of them to be ready for the start of the season. Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery, Jones had surgery on his hip, and Crawford is also dealing with a hip injury. Last we heard, there had been no progress in extension talks between the team and Jones.