Andrew Luck

South Notes: Luck, Hankins, Bucs

We learned earlier today that Ndamukong Suh has completed his initial visit with the Saints and that his visit with the Titans is still ongoing. Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the league’s south divisions:

  • Yesterday, the Colts agreed to trade their No. 3 overall selection in this year’s draft to the Jets in exchange for New York’s No. 6 overall pick and three second-round selections (including one in 2019). Most pundits believe that’s a pretty nice haul for Indianapolis, and Mike Wells of says it’s also good news for Andrew Luck. With this year’s class of rookie QBs considered to be quite strong — indeed, the Jets are widely expected to use the No. 3 overall pick on a signal-caller — the Colts could have guaranteed themselves of a Luck insurance policy if they felt they needed one. Instead, the move signals to Wells that the team is convinced Luck will look like his usual self in 2018 and beyond.
  • The Colts made the surprising decision to cut Johnathan Hankins yesterday, and Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star writes that the move was scheme-based. Indianapolis is converting from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme this year, and while Hankins had only worked in a 4-3 before joining the Colts, the team believes that Hankins’ skill-set will not fit its new emphasis on speed and quickness. Hankins played quite well in 2017, though, and Jason Fitzgerald of believes he will land a contract that pays him $7MM per year on the open market (Twitter link).
  • The Colts-Jets swap, combined with the Buccaneers‘ signing of Ryan Jensen, could result in a top-five prospect falling to Tampa Bay, which holds the No. 7 overall pick, as Jenna Laine of writes. Laine examines a few scenarios that could lead to a player like NC State’s Bradley Chubb or Penn State’s Saquon Barkley dropping into the Bucs’ laps.
  • Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff has used free agency to drastically improve his team in the past, but as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, Dimitroff is largely eschewing free agency this year. Atlanta has a strong roster with a number of quality young players on the defensive side of the ball, so the club is content to build through the draft. The team did sign Brandon Fusco to a three-year deal to be its starting right guard, but otherwise, the Falcons’ top priority this offseason is to get an extension done for Matt Ryan.

Colts To Hire Shane Steichen As Offensive Coordinator

[UPDATE: There are conflicting reports on the Colts’ OC situation. Field Yates of reports that Nick Sirianni is the expected hire.]

The Colts are expected to hire Chargers quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen as the team’s new offensive coordinator, sources told CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (Twitter link). Shane Steichen (featured)

In 2017, Steichen completed his second season as the Chargers’ quarterbacks coach, helping Philip Rivers throw for 8,901 yards and 61 touchdowns in those two campaigns. He replaces Rob Chudzinski, who held the position in Indianapolis since 2015.

In 2013, Steichen worked as an offensive quality control assistant with the Browns, working with the quarterbacks. That season, three different Cleveland signal-callers threw for 300 yards in a game. That led to a move to the Chargers, where he again served as an offensive quality control coach before being promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2016.

His work with Rivers surely played a role in catching the Colts’ eye. That experience with a veteran quarterback should help Steichen reintegrate Andrew Luck back into the offense after missing a season. That is, if he is fully healthy in 2018.

With Luck out of the lineup in 2017, the Colts ranked 30th in passing yards, 31st in passing touchdowns and 31st in total offense.

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Latest On Colts, Josh McDaniels

On Wednesday morning, GM Chris Ballard faced the media in the wake of Josh McDaniels‘ shocking decision to back out on becoming the team’s next head coach. Here’s a look at the highlights plus other news on McDaniels’ flip-flop:

  • McDaniels’ agent, Bob LaMonte, told him that he’s making perhaps the biggest professional mistake of his career by backing out of this Colts job at this point, according to sources who spoke with Mike Garafolo of (Twitter link). On Wednesday afternoon, LaMonte terminated his relationship with McDaniels, a source tells Dan Graziano of (on Twitter). LaMonte is forfeiting a potentially large commission down the road should McDaniels become a head coach again, but he is also protecting future business by distancing himself from the Patriots OC.
  • Colts were going to pay McDaniels “fabulously,” a source tells Tom Pelissero of (on Twitter), so money was not the issue in Indianapolis. Pelissero hears that the coach also wasn’t warded off by Andrew Luck’s injured shoulder, owner Jim Irsay, or Ballard. At the end of the day, the Patriots just convinced him to stay. There’s no new contract in place for McDaniels yet, but Pelissero expects that to happen soon.
  • Ballard says two doctors who looked at Luck after the season have determined that he does not need surgery (Twitter link via Pelissero). Luck’s arm strength is good, the GM says, but he is now working on motion and arm speed. He has yet to pick up a football, but the team will not rush him or skip any steps.
  • The GM confirmed that none of the coaches from the initial wave of interviews will be in the mix, meaning that Kris Richard and Matt Rhule will not be considered (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • There were other candidates the Colts wanted to interview, Ballard said, but the playoffs got in the way (Twitter link via Stephen Holder of The Colts are expected to request an interview with Eagles OC Frank Reich and he fits the bill as a coach who was tied up during the playoffs. Of course, the same could be said of McDaniels and that did not stop Indy from interviewing him.
  • The Colts will honor the contract of defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and others who have already signed their deals. That’s not an issue for Ballard who explained that he knew Eberflus well through Rod Marinelli. The former Dallas assistant was already a guy he wanted to run his defense.
  • The Colts got an uneasy feeling a week ago that something could be stalling with McDaniels, despite moving forward with his contract (Twitter link via Jay Glazer of FOX Sports).
  • McDaniels arrived at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday with the intention of cleaning out his office, but Bill Belichick‘s willingness to take his mentorship to a higher level played a big part in McDaniels reversing course, sources tell’s Mike Reiss. Belichick told McDaniels that he would spend more time with him on the inner workings of the team, including roster construction and salary-cap management, which was viewed as “extremely valuable” to McDaniels. That could be part of a succession plan for Belichick in the future, but no assurances have been made to McDaniels.

Patriots Have Not Promised HC Job To Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels made the decision to walk away from the Colts’ head coaching job offer without receiving a promise that he will succeed Bill Belichick as the Patriots’ next head coach, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.Josh McDaniels (vertical)

McDaniels reportedly did not bail on Indianapolis because of money, but instead had concerns about moving his family away from the New England area. While McDaniels received “clarity” as to Belichick’s future in recent days, that apparently doesn’t mean he’s been told he’ll become the Pats head coach whenever Belichick retires. Indeed, if McDaniels had been informed Belichick was nearing retirement, he’d have been more inclined to take a head coaching job.

McDaniels may have had worries about the condition of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (Chris Mortensen of reported Sunday that some doctors believe Luck may require another surgery), but Florio indicates McDaniels’ chief concerns involved working with Colts owner Jim Irsay. Whether the next round of Indianapolis candidates will have that same uneasiness is unclear, but the Colts plan to restart their head coaching search this week.

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Andrew Luck “Very Close” To Throwing Again

Andrew Luck‘s getting some quality airport time in during his extensive recovery period from a January 2017 surgery, but his next trip could be a sign he’s nearly ready to return to action.

The Colts quarterback will trek to the Los Angeles area to work with passing guru Tom House, Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of report. The duo reports Luck, who spent time in Europe after being placed on IR last year, is “very close” to a return to throwing.

Luck being set to throw again soon would indicate he does not need another surgery, which would gel with his comments in December about his troublesome right shoulder. The 28-year-old passer said then he doesn’t plan to miss any of the Colts’ offseason. While that seems unrealistic, the passer throwing again come February would appear to put him on track for some offseason participation.

Rapoport and Garafolo note Luck is currently working on his strength and motion, a natural precursor to actual passing work.

More than a year removed from labrum surgery, and on the heels of a lost season, Luck throwing again — coupled with the expected hire of Josh McDaniels — would double as invigorating steps for the Colts’ offense, one that ranked 31st this season. Luck’s presence attracted McDaniels to the Colts, so it stands to reason the incoming HC was pleased with what he was told about Luck’s progress.

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Latest On Giants’ Pat Shurmur Hire

A difference between how Pat Shurmur approached his Giants interview helped land him the job. The former Vikings OC conducted his Giants meeting in a fashion that left no doubt the Giants were his first choice, which is something, per Ralph Vacchiano of, team management couldn’t see in Josh McDaniels or Matt Patricia.

While Vacchiano reports some in the Giants’ organization preferred the two Patriots coordinators to Shurmur “until the very end,” he notes Shurmur left “by far” the strongest first impression on the Giants of the candidates summoned. One of the reasons management was sold on Shurmur was his desire to land the Giants’ job was far more evident than the other finalists’. Vacchiano writes McDaniels appeared to be more interested in the Colts’ job because of Andrew Luck‘s presence, and Patricia’s Lions connection turned out to be very real.

Multiple sources informed Vacchiano that Shurmur was at one point viewed as the favorite in Arizona and that his personality would work better there, but the former Browns coach, per the Giants, was intent on securing the New York job.

Shurmur’s interview, one John Mara ranked as arguably the best he’s seen, resulted in him edging the New England assistants after they’d been viewed as previous favorites. Shurmur also made the strongest connection with Dave Gettleman of the six candidates interviewed, which is interesting given Steve Wilks‘ history with the new Giants GM. Vacchiano notes Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin did not see eye to eye on key components of the team in their final years together, with a specific disagreement involving the team’s offensive line approach, and adds Mara appeared to indicate Reese and Ben McAdoo weren’t meshing as well as they’d hoped to.

Mara indicated a head coach/GM partnership was critical here, and Shurmur — who made a point of saying how much stock he places in repairing the Giants’ offensive front — appears to be in stride with Gettleman at this point.

Mara previously said he wanted a head coach with previous experience leading a team, and Vacchiano reports Shurmur was “much more willing” to accept his wrongdoings from his first job (with the 2011-12 Browns) than McDaniels (fired midway through his second Broncos season in 2010) was. Shurmur made clear he will hire an offensive coordinator, identifying that as a mistake from his first Cleveland campaign. The Giants ultimately ruled out Wilks because of his lack of experience.

Shurmur also spoke with Eli Manning on the phone on Wednesday from the Senior Bowl and then sat down with the franchise passer in the Giants’ cafeteria on Friday, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reports. Considering Gettleman’s praise for Manning, and what Shurmur offered about the quarterback’s future at his press conference, it’s starting to look like a strong bet he will be back in New York for his age-37 season.

Schwartz writes Shurmur’s approach with Manning differs from Coughlin’s with Kerry Collins, whom the Giants replaced with Manning in 2004. Coughlin ignored Collins when they saw each other at the facility during the months his and Collins’ tenures overlapped in ’04, Schwartz recalls.

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Josh McDaniels Prefers Titans To Colts?

Josh McDaniels will be the next head coach of the Colts. Or maybe not. Josh McDaniels (vertical)

The Titans canned Mike Mularkey on Monday morning, opening up speculation that the Titans have their eye on another head coaching candidate. If that preferred candidate is McDaniels, then they could have a match. As Ian Rapoport of notes (Twitter link), the belief prior to the Colts report was that McDaniels would prefer the Titans to all of the other available coaching jobs. McDaniels is high on Marcus Mariota‘s potential and also has concerns about Andrew Luck‘s health.

McDaniels may have had a verbal agreement with the Colts, but there’s nothing in writing as the Patriots’ season is still ongoing. Until then, there will be speculation surrounding a reunion between McDaniels and former Pats exec Jon Robinson,

Chuck Pagano Out As Colts Head Coach

Following Indianapolis’ 22-13 win over the Texans in the season finale, head coach Chuck Pagano was let go as the team’s head coach, WISH-TV in Indianapolis’ Anthony Calhoun reports (Twitter link). Chuck Pagano

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported late Saturday night that the team was expected to part ways with the coach following Sunday’s performance. The team followed through, firing the head coach less than hour after the final whistle.

Pagano, who was two years into a four-year deal with the team, served as the Colts head coach since 2012 and amassed a record of 53-43 that included three postseason appearances. During his tenure, Pagano ushered the team into a new era after the release of Peyton Manning. With the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the team tabbed Andrew Luck and pulled off three consecutive 11-5 campaigns with the Stanford product under center. In 2014, the Colts advanced to the AFC Championship game but were defeated by the eventual Super Bowl-champion Patriots, 45-7.

In 2015, Luck missed nine of 16 games and the team skidded to an 8-8 mark. Following another .500 campaign in 2016, Indianapolis parted ways with GM Ryan Grigson but decided to keep Pagano on for another season.

The writing was on the wall early for Pagano in 2017. Luck never got on the field following a lingering shoulder injury and the team posted its worst record since 2011.

Team owner and CEO Jim Irsay issued a statement following the firing, saying:

“Chuck Pagano provided Colts fans with many exciting wins and memories as head coach of the Colts. Throughout his tenure in Indianapolis, he impacted the lives of the players he coached, those who he worked with in the organization and Colts fans across the globe. Chuck’s first season was one of the more inspirational stories in NFL history as he courageously battled and overcame leukemia. As a result, his CHUCKSTRONG Foundation has raised millions for cancer research. We are thankful for Chuck’s contributions to our franchise and community and we wish him, Tina and the entire Pagano family nothing but the best moving forward.”


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Andrew Luck Set To Resume Throwing Soon

Andrew Luck spent time in the Netherlands recently for additional rehab on his troublesome throwing shoulder, and the Colts quarterback addressed his status Friday.

Luck plans to resume throwing soon and has a considerably lofty recovery goal. Going into his seventh NFL offseason, Luck does not expect to miss any of it — not OTAs, minicamp or training camp — as he prepares for a return for the 2018 season (Twitter link), one he does not feel is in jeopardy despite the murkiness of his 2017.

The 28-year-old passer also does not expect to undergo another surgery. He noted the only rehab he did in Europe featured soft tissue work with a therapist he’d worked with in the past (Twitter link). None of the exercises performed are illegal in the United States; Luck simply traveled to the Netherlands because that’s where this trainer is stationed.

I feel stronger, more stable, more confident in it. It’s better,” Luck said of his shoulder.

He has not thrown a pass since the Colts shelved him from practice earlier this season prior to placing him on IR, but he’s preparing for another throwing program soon. The quarterback’s strength levels are a self-described issue, and this area will be addressed before said throwing sessions commence.

This remains a drawn-out process that would make it seem like OTAs are an unrealistic conclusion, given what’s transpired over the past year and considering training camp is nearly eight months away.

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Will Andrew Luck Require More Surgery?

Even though he has been on IR since November 2, we continue to get regular reports on Andrew Luck‘s status. We learned last week that the Colts’ star QB is “doing fine” with the medical treatments that he is receiving in Europe, and today, Chris Mortensen of offers more insight into Luck’s future.

Andrew Luck

Per Mortensen (Twitter links), Luck will return from Europe soon, and when he does, he will resume a throwing regimen that will ultimately determine whether he needs surgery on his biceps tendon. Mortensen explains that, if Luck feels pain when he starts throwing again, a procedure known as tenodesis will become an option. Medical experts say that tenodesis patients face a three-t0-six month recovery, so the team is hoping to make a decision in that regard by mid-January at the latest.

Luck is optimistic that he will be able to avoid such a procedure, and that his European treatments will resolve the shoulder problems that have been ailing him for some time. But despite similar optimism this year, he was never able to get back on the field, which is obviously cause for concern. After all, not only does Luck represent the team’s best chance to capture a championship in the near future, his massive contract would be pretty difficult to absorb if he cannot get back to full strength.

In addition to the uncertainty surrounding Luck, the Colts are also expected to fire head coach Chuck Pagano after the season. Although the Indianapolis gig is widely regarded as a desirable one, the Luck situation could make top-tier head coaching candidates have second thoughts.

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