- Indications are that Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri wants to play at least two more seasons, reports Kevin Bowen of the team’s website. Set to turn 45 in December, Vinatieri is the league’s oldest player, but the former Patriot remains one of the game’s premier kickers. He connected on 27 of 31 tries (7 of 9 from 50-plus yards) last season, tying him for the league’s sixth-highest conversion rate (87.1 percent). Vinatieri was also one of five kickers who didn’t miss an extra point, hitting on all 44 attempts. Hanging around for two more years should enable Vinatieri to pass Hall of Famer Morten Andersen as the league’s all-time leader in both points and field goals made, Bowen points out.
- Kevin Bowen of Colts.com says all is quiet on the Colts/Zach Orr front, and at this point, the team has had plenty of time to sift through Orr’s medicals. Therefore, Bowen does not believe Indianapolis will pursue Orr in an attempt to bolster its linebacker corps.
- Darryl Slater of NJ.com makes a series of predictions for the Jets, with the most interesting being that he expects Christian Hackenberg to become the team’s starting quarterback no later than Week 12 (New York has a Week 11 bye), and that he expects Todd Bowles to be retained for 2018.
John Dorsey hasn’t been linked to any teams since the Chiefs fired him late last month. The juncture of the dismissal makes Dorsey’s status somewhat tenuous for the 2017 season. He’d been mentioned as a potential Ted Thompson replacement in Green Bay, but nothing’s emerged since he became available. And Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com recently threw cold water on a potential Packers reunion. An obvious connection points to the Colts, the team former top Dorsey lieutenant Chris Ballard now runs as GM. But a union this late in the offseason doesn’t make this fit right, Kevin Bowen of Colts.com writes. With Dorsey likely to be on some radars for ensuing GM vacancies, the Colts may just be renting him for six months in this scenario. Bowen expects Dorsey to sit out the 2017 season and re-emerge as a leading candidate elsewhere in 2018.
- Arguing a team other than the Colts was in the best long-term position in this division seemed fruitless for several years, given Andrew Luck‘s Indianapolis employment. But with the Colts having changed their management structure after having not made the playoffs behind their talented quarterback the past two years, the Titans appear to have usurped them as the long-term team of the moment here. The NFL Nation’s AFC South contingent at ESPN.com suggest the Titans are, in fact, positioned best for long-term success. Of course, Tennessee hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2008, but the presence of Marcus Mariota, an upward-trending offensive line and some weapons added this offseason helped the franchise move into this position.
- The Colts have waived wide receiver Trey Griffey off injured reserve, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (on Twitter). Indianapolis first waived Griffey, who’s the son of Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., three weeks ago, but he reverted to IR because no one claimed him. Trey Griffey signed with Indianapolis in May as an undrafted free agent from Arizona, where he hauled in 23 receptions for 382 yards and two touchdowns last season.
- The Colts are focused on improving their turnover margin stat in 2017, and that influenced some of the team’s moves this offseason, Kevin Bowen of Colts.com writes. The Colts selected Ohio State safety Malik Hooker at No. 15 overall and shifted Darius Butler to safety with the hope that they can get more takeaways. On the other side of the ball, they’re hoping that Andrew Luck‘s smart decision making will help to limit turnovers.
- Chuck Pagano and Colts DC Ted Monachino are encouraged by what they’ve seen from third-round pass rusher Tarell Basham, Kevin Bowen of Colts.com notes. Pagano said it will be “exciting” to watch the former Ohio Bobcats defensive end develop, while Monachino said a safe prediction can be made Basham will do “several things well.” Bowen writes Basham will likely be shuttled to outside linebacker in Indianapolis’ 3-4 look. Recently retired edge dynamo Robert Mathis has helped Basham (9.0 sacks as a senior last season) with that transition this offseason. The Colts added edge players Jabaal Sheard, John Simon and Barkevious Mingo in free agency, moving to younger cogs after Mathis retired. Trent Cole and Erik Walden remain unsigned after their Colts contracts expired.
- The Colts allocated much of their linebacker funds to adding outside ‘backers, but they did make some investments to help patch some holes inside. They added Sean Spence and Jon Bostic and used a fifth-round pick on Northwestern’s Anthony Walker. Despite Bostic being signed to a one-year deal worth just $690K and having missed the 2016 season due to injury, Colts.com’s Kevin Bowen projects he will claim one of Indianapolis’ starting inside linebacker jobs. Bowen tabs the other spot to be wide open. Bostic hasn’t started more than one game in a season since starting eight for the 2014 Bears.
The second team to host recently unretired linebacker Zach Orr on a visit, the Colts may not be much closer to making a contract offer than they were before Orr arrived in Indianapolis on Friday.
This visit — sandwiched in between Lions and Jets summits — was more of an information-gathering exercise, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star reports. The Colts, Holder reports, wanted to gauge Orr’s readiness after the recently discovered congenital spinal condition forced him to retire earlier this year. So far, the team isn’t comfortable enough with the 25-year-old to foresee a future — based on the current information — where he’s playing in Indianapolis.
Orr has drawn interest from around half of the league, so this could be a lengthy process. He’s planning to visit the Jets on Saturday. The Ravens are also debating a reunion push. But teams’ medical staffs will determine Orr’s future, with the off-ball ‘backer having already established he can be a standout player when on the field.
Orr said he’s feeling great and describes the condition as a birth defect rather than a severe injury. He said he retired after speaking with one doctor but returned after other doctors said he’s not at greater risk of injury by returning to the gridiron.
The Colts made several linebacker signings during Chris Ballard‘s first offseason as GM, but most of the additions came at outside linebacker. The team has needs on the inside after cutting D’Qwell Jackson and not investing high-end draft resources in the spot. Indianapolis took Anthony Walker out of Northwestern in Round 5, though, after signing Sean Spence in free agency.
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- The Colts‘ early-season schedule and Chris Ballard‘s presence make Chuck Pagano a hot-seat candidate if the sixth-year Indianapolis leader doesn’t get the team off to a strong start, ESPN.com’s AFC South reporters posit. The Colts have started three straight seasons 0-2 but this year have the Rams, Browns, 49ers and Jaguars in their first seven games. Pagano not being Ballard’s handpicked coach figures to have him as a lame-duck candidate if the Colts are unable to return to the playoffs, however.
The Colts visit is sandwiched between his Lions visit on Thursday and his upcoming powwow with the Jets on Saturday. Orr tells Marvez that he expects to hear back from the Lions later today and his agent (Twitter links via Josina Anderson of ESPN.com) indicated that everything went well in Detroit. It’s not uncommon for scheduled visits to get canceled when a player reaches a deal with another team, but since Orr has interest from roughly half of the teams in the NFL, it stands to reason that he will get together with at least a handful of them before making a decision.
The Colts have already made major renovations to their linebacker group this offseason. Adding Orr would give GM Chris Ballard‘s team an embarrassment of riches, but no team has ever complained about having too much talent in the front seven.
The Colts project to start three free agent additions – John Simon, Sean Spence, and Jabaal Sheard – as linebackers in the 3-4 scheme, along with the returning Edwin Jackson. The reserve group also new faces in rookies Tarell Basham and Anthony Walker Jr. plus free agents Barkevious Mingo and Jonathan Bostic. An Orr signing would be the Colts’ sixth major free agent linebacker pickup of the offseason.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.