Colts Rumors

Poll: Where Will Jadeveon Clowney Sign?

It’s April and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is still without an NFL team. The former No. 1 overall pick isn’t coming off of a banner year, but he plays a premium position and has 32 career sacks to his credit. So, what gives? 

Of course, his price tag is his biggest blocker. Clowney came into the offseason seeking a deal worth $20MM per year. Recently, he backed down from that position, though the incumbent Seahawks are believed to be offering between $13-$15MM per annum, which is still probably less than he’s willing to accept.

A reunion still seems possible, but Clowney’s camp is working to find a better deal in the interim. Late last week, the Browns entered the sweepstakes and some league officials believe that they have the strongest interest of any suitor. The Browns have tons of cap room – about $43MM – and they might be willing to use some of it to swap Olivier Vernon for Clowney. Of course, that might be easier said than done, since the Browns would still have to find a team willing to take on the rest of Vernon’s contract, which is set to pay him $15.25MM.

The Jets could use Clowney’s edge rushing ability, but they’ve been taking a conservative approach to free agency after whiffing on their preferred targets in March. The Titans have also been linked to him, thanks to Clowney’s relationship with head coach Mike Vrabel from their Houston days, but they’re less inclined to spend on the pass rush after committing $9MM to outside linebacker Vic Beasley.

Other teams have been connected to Clowney, like the Giants, Colts, and Dolphins, though their pass rush needs have already been addressed. The Eagles remain an interesting landing spot for him from a football perspective, and they have breathing room to work with for right now, but their 2021 situation could complicate things. In theory, Philly could still land Clowney if he is willing to accept a one-year deal. The Ravens – with less than $11MM in cap space for the current year – seem less likely to sign him. For the sake of casting a wide net, we’ll include all of those teams in our poll.

Where do you think Clowney will sign? Cast your vote in the poll below (link for app users) and back up your pick in the comments.

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Colts Sought Better Slot Corner Depth

  • The ColtsT.J. Carrie addition did not seem to add up given Kenny Moore‘s place as one of the league’s best slot cornerbacks, but GM Chris Ballard said the team needed better depth at this position (via Stephen Holder of The Athletic, on Twitter). Carrie has played both inside and outside during his time with the Browns and Raiders and will likely be given time at both spots with the Colts. He’s done his best NFL work in the slot, however, so Indianapolis should be covered behind Moore this season. Moore missed five games due to injury in 2019.

FIU QB James Morgan Drawing Interest

FIU quarterback James Morgan is starting to generate some buzz as we get closer to draft day, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. Morgan made his way onto our site for the first time today, when we wrote that the Patriots have shown some interest, and New England is not the only team sniffing around.

Per Wilson, a number of clubs are closely vetting Morgan, though COVID-19 restrictions obviously mean that he can’t visit teams or work out privately for them. Wilson’s sources say that in addition to the Patriots, the Packers, Bears, Colts, Raiders, Giants, Bills, Jets, and Dolphins are among the teams intrigued by Morgan.

It is not surprising to see most of the teams on that list. New England, of course, is in the market for a collegiate passer after watching Tom Brady sign with the Buccaneers, and the Dolphins have long been connected to this year’s top rookie QBs. The Raiders, Bears, and Colts have varying degrees of long-term uncertainty at the quarterback position, and the Packers had planned to host the best QB prospects before pre-draft visits were cancelled (Morgan is actually a Green Bay native, and the Packers may be starting to prepare for life without Aaron Rodgers).

Meanwhile, all three New York outfits seem to have a long-term solution under center already, although none of their incumbents are sure things at the moment. And given that Morgan is a mid- to late-round prospect, it couldn’t hurt for those teams to at least have a look.

Morgan performed well at this year’s scouting combine and at the East-West Shrine Game, and a Southeast Area NFL scout said Morgan has one of the three strongest arms in the draft, along with the intelligence and leadership qualities that teams covet. After an uneven tenure at Bowling Green, Morgan transferred to FIU in 2018 and earned Conference USA Newcomer of the Year honors by completing over 65% of his passes for 26 TDs and seven interceptions.

His 2019 effort was not quite as strong, but he has put together enough quality tape to start rising up draft boards.

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Details On Xavier Rhodes’ Deal With Colts

Late last month, the Colts agreed to sign former Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes to a one-year deal. At the time, it was reported that he’d earn somewhere around $5MM. On Thursday, we learned that it’s not quite that lucrative. 

Rhodes ‘s deal has a base value of $3MM including a $1MM signing bonus, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Outside of the signing bonus, the deal has no other guarantees, though he can add an extra $250K if he hits certain incentive milestones.

The Vikings dropped Rhodes midway through March, terminating his five-year, $70MM+ deal with three seasons to go. The new contract represents a serious pay cut for the former first-round pick – his average annual value has dropped by $11MM and he’ll have to play up to par in Indy in order to keep his value strong moving forward.

Rhodes, 30 this summer, had a rough 2019 in Minnesota. The 2016 and 2017 Pro Bowler looked like a shell of his former self – he notched five interceptions in ’16; he offered Swiss cheese D last year, as evidenced by his 127.8 passer rating.

The Vikings reportedly tried to re-sign Rhodes, but his Colts contract indicates that it probably wasn’t a very strong offer. Or, perhaps, the Vikes made him a similar pitch, but he wanted a change of scenery. Either way, the Vikings are now down three former first-round corners after watching Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander switch conferences.

Now with the Colts, Rhodes will try to fill the void left by the Pierre Desir release along with slot specialist Kenny Moore and Rock Ya-Sin.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Discussed Dalton With Bengals

The Colts clearly made a quarterback upgrade a top priority this offseason. In addition to the research done on Philip Rivers and Tom Brady, and a Nick Foles trade inquiry with a division rival, the Colts looked into Andy Dalton. The Colts discussed Dalton with the Bengals, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets (video link). It is not clear how far the discussions progressed, but Rapoport suggests Dalton would have needed to agree to reduce his 2020 salary. The veteran quarterback is set to make $17.5MM in base salary. The Colts viewed Rivers as a better option than Foles, Rapoport adds, and may well have felt the same about the prospect of giving up assets for Dalton as opposed to paying Rivers $25MM.

Latest On QB Jordan Love

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where Utah State QB Jordan Love will land in this month’s draft, and as such, he is generating interest from plenty of teams. Kevin Patra of NFL.com says that the Saints, Packers, Chargers, Raiders, Dolphins, and Colts have all been in contact with Love via FaceTime and other virtual means.

Despite an uneven 2019 season, Love possesses all the physical tools that a team could want in a signal-caller and showed enough of his ability at the scouting combine to create some buzz. So while teams like the Chargers and Dolphins have more immediate needs at quarterback, it’s not surprising that clubs like the Colts and the Packers would be taking a look as well, as they could have Love learn from their current starters while he continues to refine his game. Indeed, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Green Bay had planned to host Love and most of this year’s top QB prospects at its facility before pre-draft visits were cancelled (Twitter link). Of course, the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers when Brett Favre was still playing at a high level, so if Love falls to them, perhaps they could make a similar move.

The Saints’ involvement is somewhat surprising since we heard last month that New Orleans was not interested in Love. But while the team holds Taysom Hill in high regard and views him as the heir to Drew Brees, the fact remains that Hill will be 30 in August and has thrown 13 passes in his professional career, so a little due diligence couldn’t hurt.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, are reportedly very high on Love. While Miami’s dream scenario remains one in which it acquires the No. 1 overall pick from Cincinnati to select Joe Burrow, the ‘Fins will definitely walk away from the draft with a high-end signal-caller in tow.

Love looked like such a player in 2018 by throwing 32 touchdowns against six interceptions. Unfortunately, his arm strength and stature didn’t yield the same results last year, as he had 20 TDs against 17 INTs while playing with a lesser supporting cast. But plenty of QBs have had disappointing final seasons in college and have gone on to do big things in the pros, and apparently a number of teams believe Love can do just that.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Notes: Brady, Rivers, Brissett, Vinatieri

We heard last week that Tom Brady‘s camp had expressed interest in the Colts, but that the interest wasn’t mutual as Indy opted to roll with Philip Rivers. But Indianapolis at least looked into the opportunity, as head coach Frank Reich revealed in a video news conference Tuesday, via Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. “I watched all of his tape from the last two years,” Reich said. “I think he’s still playing at a super-, super-high level. We know he’s the best of all time for a reason.” Still it wasn’t enough to move him in a different direction, as Reich said “we really felt like Philip was the right guy for us.”

For us, we got the guy we thought was the right fit,” he explained. “I don’t know if I’d say (Brady) wasn’t a fit. There’s always a fit when you have a great player, when you have maybe the best player of all time. There’s a lot of factors that go into these things.” One of those factors is of course Reich’s familiarity with Rivers, who he coached with the Chargers. Brady was likely attracted to the Colts’ coaching staff and offensive line, although things worked out alright for him with Tampa Bay. Still, the fact that the Colts explicitly chose Rivers over Brady is interesting.

Here’s more from Lucas Oil Stadium:

  • Reich reiterated that he didn’t feel like Rivers had lost anything physically, and called it a “crazy unique opportunity” to link back up with his old pupil, per Mike Wells of ESPN.com. “Just being there on the inside in the three years that I was and knowing the quarterback position like I do, I was so confident physically he was the right player and he had not lost anything,” Reich said Tuesday. “I didn’t notice any physical gifts diminishing.” He continued to rave about his new signal-caller, saying “when I tell you he’s elite intellectually, he’s at the top. There are a group of guys in the football world I would put in that category, not everybody gets those gifts. He has them.” Rivers will turn 39 in December and is coming off a down year, but he was one of the best quarterbacks in the league in 2018. Not having to play 16 road games per year like he did in Los Angeles should help.
  • The acquisition of Rivers is sending Jacoby Brissett to the bench, and Reich spoke about him for the first time. “Honestly, he wasn’t happy about it,” Reich said after revealing he called Brissett shortly before they announced the signing of Rivers, via Wells. “But he’s a great teammate and a great leader, and I’m sure he’ll be good. Even though Jacoby isn’t a starter, but there’s nothing saying he can’t play,” he said. “We’re wide open. (Offensive coordinator) Nick (Sirianni) and I have been talking: What does it look like if Jacoby plays five plays a game? Seven plays a game? We’re open to that.” Brissett now has a $21.4MM cap hit to be a backup, so it makes sense they’d want to utilize him somehow.
  • Adam Vinatieri struggled mightily last season before being shutdown with a knee injury and having surgery. But despite now being 47, the legendary kicker is still contemplating playing another season, according to Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star. Reich said that he had seen Vinatieri at the facility rehabbing before COVID-19 closed it. “(We plan) to have a sitdown with Adam and see where he’s at once he’s a little further along in that process,” Reich said. Reich said Vinatieri hasn’t yet made a decision on whether or not to retire. If he decides to keep playing, it’s entirely possible he’ll have to find a new team. Reich and general manager Chris Ballard caught some flak for sticking with Vinatieri so long when he was struggling, and their replacement Chase McLaughlin played well down the stretch. Vinatieri missed eight field goals and six extra points before getting shutdown with four games to go last year. When he underwent surgery, he said he wanted to keep the hope for a 25th season alive.

Colts Notes: Rivers, Gates, Rhodes

There were several times during the 2019 campaign that Antonio Gates considered joining the Colts. The veteran tight end told Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star that he was close to teaming up with several of his former Chargers coaches, including former offensive coordinator (and current Indy head coach) Frank Reich, former wide receivers coach (and current Indy offensive coordinator) Nick Sirianni, and former tight ends coach (and, well, current Indy tight ends coach) Jason Michael in Indianapolis. 

“It was just so familiar,” Gates said. “Even the players had, like, similarities if that makes sense. It’s just crazy how everything works. It did look familiar and when they called plays, it just fit what we had done over the course of a decade in California.”

Considering that connection, it was natural for some to wonder if the 39-year-old would finally land in Indy to team up with his former quarterback, Philip Rivers, in 2020. However, Gates made it clear that he isn’t planning on ending his retirement.

“No, no, no,” Gates said. “Last year, I was fresh out. I was hesitant about coming back, but I always wanted to keep open the opportunity of winning a championship. I really, truly feel like the Colts have that opportunity now with Philip. But for me, I can’t be who I was, from a mental standpoint. That’s why I retired. What I would have to go through mentally and the things I’d do to prepare, I just don’t feel like I can give that effort right now. I wouldn’t want to do that to anybody.” 

Let’s check out some more notes out of Indy:

  • Gates also provided some interesting insight into why he believes Rivers chose Indianapolis. “I was in the same boat Philip is in now,” said Gates. “You understand the people you’re going to work with. They don’t have to worry about me as a human being. They know me. And they know, ‘OK, this is his ritual and how he gets prepared and gets ready.’ Sometimes as a veteran, you need that. That helps you….Say I would have gone to New England. I never played under (Bill) Belichick. He doesn’t really understand how Antonio Gates works. He wouldn’t know, I need this day off. I’ll train on this day. So he has a philosophy he’s accustomed to, therefore they have no relationship with me. All they know is what they see. And that wouldn’t have worked. And I really think it’s the same for Philip. I’m 98-99% sure that’s why he went to Indy.”
  • Meanwhile, cornerback Xavier Rhodes didn’t mince words when explaining why he joined the Colts. The veteran said defensive backs/cornerbacks coach Jonathan Gannon and defensive backs/safeties coach Alan Williams were “the big reasons” he signed with the Colts (via Joel A. Erickson of the Star on Twitter). Gannon coached Rhodes in Minnesota between 2014 and 2017, while Williams was the Vikings defensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013.
  • In case you missed it, the Colts and cornerback T.J. Carrie agreed to terms Monday.

AFC Contract Details: Eifert, Day, Ravens

We already took a look at NFC contract details, so let’s switch focus to the other conference. Like last time, all notes via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle on Twitter:

  • Tyler Eifert, TE (Jaguars): Two years. Worth $9.5MM, including $3.25MM guaranteed. $2.25MM signing bonus. $1.25MM per-game roster bonus, $2M in incentives (2020). Up to $1M per-game roster bonus, $2M in incentives (2021, if options is exercised).
  • Sheldon Day, DT (Colts): Signed. One-year, $1.75M deal, including $1MM guaranteed. $500K signing bonus, $1MM salary (of which $500K is guaranteed). Up to $250K in per-game roster bonuses.
  • Andrew Billings, DT (Browns): One year, $3.5MM. Fully guaranteed deal. Includes $2MM signing bonus.
  • Anthony Levine, S (Ravens): Signed. One-year, $1.812MM deal, including $350K guaranteed. $137.6K signing bonus, $1.675MM salary (of which $212.5K is guaranteed).
  • Chris Moore, WR (Ravens): Re-signed. One-year, $1.672MM deal, including $275K guaranteed. $137.5K signing bonus, $1.535MM salary (of which $137.5K is guaranteed).
  • Nick Dzubnar, LB (Titans): Signed. One-year, $1.047MM deal. Includes $137.5K signing bonus, $910K salary.

Colts, CB T.J. Carrie Agree To Deal

A few days after the Colts agreed to sign Xavier Rhodes, they are adding another veteran cornerback to the mix. The Colts and T.J. Carrie agreed to terms Monday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

It’s a one-year deal for Carrie, who will earn the veteran minimum, per Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio (on Twitter). Carrie will receive $300K guaranteed, Caplan adds.

After being cut by the Browns in February, the former seventh-round pick visited the Seahawks earlier this month. Both he and Rhodes are street free agents, with the latter being a Vikings cap casualty.

The Colts have done some retooling in their secondary, releasing veteran Pierre Desir and signing Rhodes and Carrie. The latter duo brings a combined 13 years’ experience. For Carrie, this will be his third NFL team. The former Raiders draftee spent the past two seasons with the Browns.

Carrie worked as a part-time starter in Cleveland, opening 14 games with the Browns’ first-string defense during his time in Ohio. He worked as the Raiders’ primary slot defender in 2017. Pro Football Focus did not view Carrie’s Browns work as being on the same level as his Raiders contract year, but the 29-year-old defender will likely not be expected to be a starter in Indianapolis. He instead profiles as a depth piece for the Colts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.