Colts Rumors

Details On Fisher's Colts Deal

He started a game for the Browns as a rookie in 2016, and then started another for the Colts in 2017. All told, he spent at least a bit of time with nine different teams. He was signed by the Browns back in January right as their season was about to end, and didn’t appear in a game. Given his Ivy League education, it’s not too surprising he had an easy time transitioning to the front office.

  • It was initially reported that Eric Fisher‘s one-year deal with the Colts would pay him $9.4MM in 2021, but it turns out it’s a bit less than that. Fisher’s 2021 compensation will actually be $8.38MM, veteran NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweets. It’s only $6MM guaranteed. It includes a $4MM signing bonus, a $2MM guaranteed salary, and then $2.38MM in per game active roster bonuses. Wilson also notes that it’s technically a two-year pact with 2022 automatically voiding for cap purposes.

NFL Suspends Jared Veldheer

Free agent Jared Veldheer has been hit with a six-game ban (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). The reason for the suspension is not immediately clear, but it will likely hurt the tackle’s chances of finding a deal this summer. 

Veldheer, a 2010 third-round pick out of Hillsdale, has put together a 12-year career, appearing in 121 career regular season games. He joined the Colts in late December, and he ended up playing 100-percent of his team’s offensive snaps in Week 17 and the Wild Card Round. After that, he hooked on with the Packers, making him the first player in NFL history to play at least one postseason game for two different teams in the same year. It was all thanks the loophole provided by last season’s COVID-19 practice-squad rules.

It’s worth noting that Veldheer will turn 34 in June, so it’s not clear whether he’s planning on playing this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Adam Vinatieri To Retire From NFL

3:36pm: The NFL’s all-time scoring leader confirmed he will hang up his cleats. Vinatieri acknowledged during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show (video link) he will not attempt to play a 25th season. An official announcement should follow soon, and the longtime Patriots and Colts kicker should be expected to land in Canton at some point.

9:28am: Ideally, Adam Vinatieri would like to play through his 49th birthday in December. But, at this stage, the longtime NFL kicker doesn’t see it happening.

I haven’t officially retired, but I’m probably on that way,” Vinatieri said in a recent interview with Morten Andersen (via the Indy Star). “Like I said, I’m continuing to do stuff to try and get there. It’s just not … there might be a time to officially do that here in the near future.”

Vinatieri’s contract with the Colts expired at the end of the 2019 season, making him an unrestricted free agent. The veteran planned on returning to the field in 2020, but quarantine life hampered the rehabilitation of his surgically-repaired knee. Meanwhile, the Colts moved on to undrafted rookie kicker Rodrigo Blankenship.

On the whole, Vinatieri’s career has been legendary. Over the course of 24 seasons, he captured four Super Bowl rings, three First Team All-Pro nods, and countless clutch kicks. His late-year injury resulted in his first missed game since Super Bowl XLIV. And, with the Colts, he had perfect attendance dating back to 2010.

With that said, Vinatieri did show some signs of slowing down in 2019. He made just 17 of his 25 field goal tries and 22 of his 28 extra points. The Colts had issues beyond the special teams unit, of course, but those misses did not help matters as they dropped out of playoff contention.

When you get to be our age, and you’ve kicked as many balls as we have, things start to wear out a little bit,” Vinatieri said. “Unfortunately, it was a little bit more than we were hoping. We knew we had some stuff in (the knee) that needed to be fixed. But when our surgeon went in there, he said, ‘I’m not giving you the 40,000-mile overhaul; it looked like we gave you the 80,000-mile overhaul.’”

If Vinatieri returns for another NFL season, it’ll be a historic feat. Currently, quarterback/kicker George Blanda holds the league’s all-time record on that front having played at the age of 48 in the 1975 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Marlon Mack Returns To Colts Workouts

  • In more injury rehab news, the Colts had Marlon Mack back on the field this week. Mack did not participate fully in Indianapolis’ OTA sessions this week, but Stephen Holder of The Athletic notes the fifth-year running back was available for part of the voluntary workouts (subscription required). Mack sustained a torn Achilles in Week 1 last season. He re-signed with the Colts on a one-year, $2MM deal, pointing to optimism the former fourth-round pick will be ready to go to start this season.

RB Nyheim Hines Discusses Future With Colts

Nyheim Hines may be hitting free agency following the 2021 season, but the running back is making it clear that he wants to stay in Indy. Hines told Joel A. Erickson of the Indy Star that he wants to play with the Colts for his entire career.

“I hope to play there my entire career, and I hope to establish a legacy where Indianapolis is always going to have that slasher, scat-back, that little fast guy who’s so versatile,” Hines said.

“Contract talks will come when they come. Whatever happens with that happens. My goal is to be the best leader for this team, to be the best player for this team that I can be. I feel like last year I established myself as a leader. Maybe not as much of a vocal leader, but I’m definitely a leader on that team.”

The 2018 fourth-round pick seemed to take a step back in 2019 following a solid rookie campaign. The running back bounced back in 2020, finishing with career-highs across the board, including 862 yards from scrimmage, seven touchdowns, and a team-leading 63 receptions.

The Colts are absolutely loaded at running back, with Hines joining 2020 second-rounder Jonathan Taylor, former 1,000-yard rusher Marlon Mack, and fourth-year pro Jordan Wilkins. While Hines will probably never lead the team in carries, he now understands his role, and that explains his career season in 2020.

“I think I’ve grown the most, just by my mindset,” Hines said. “Going out there, knowing that we have a lot of good players, not knowing when I’m going to touch the ball but just knowing I’m going to be ready. That’s really why I played a lot better last year, I think.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts WR Parris Campbell: ‘I’m 100 Percent’, Fully Cleared

Parris Campbell has had a tough time in the NFL since the Colts drafted him 59th overall in 2019. The Ohio State product is blazing fast and has flashed a lot of potential during his brief time on the field, but has been unable to stay healthy.

In his rookie season, he was limited to seven games due to a myriad of injuries, including a hernia, broken hand, and broken foot. This past season, he went down with a serious knee injury in Week 2 and never returned. That came on the heels of a promising Week 1 showing where he had six catches for 71 yards.

2021 is shaping up to be a make or break season for the third-year pro, and fortunately Campbell is saying he’s all systems go for the offseason. “I’m 100 percent,” Campbell said Wednesday, via Stephen Holder of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Campbell told reporters that he finally received full clearance from the medical staff this week. It wasn’t a torn ACL that sidelined him, but rather PCL and MCL injuries. Campbell also said that changing his jersey number to one was part of a hope for a fresh start.

The Colts didn’t add much at receiver this offseason and T.Y. Hilton will be 32 in November, so Campbell should have a big role if he can stay available. A healthy Campbell to go along with Hilton and second-year wideout Michael Pittman Jr. would make life a lot easier on Carson Wentz in his first year in Indy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/19/21

The Colts have now officially signed every member of their draft class. We’ll keep track of all the new draftees signing their rookie deals today here:

Indianapolis Colts

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Latest On OTA, Training Camp Negotiations Between NFL And NFLPA

Phase 2 of the league’s offseason workout program kicked off yesterday, and with it came the news that negotiations between the league and the union with respect to that program are officially dead (via Albert Breer of SI.com). Of course, the union advised players to stay away from team facilities for voluntary offseason activities, and the NFLPA and NFL were ultimately unable to come to an agreement on a number of key points.

Instead, players and coaches negotiated their own structures, and per Dan Graziano of ESPN.com, roughly 15 teams have implemented some sort of change as a result of those conversations. Browns center and union president J.C. Tretter predictably approved of the modifications, saying, “The offseason program has gotten out of hand. OTAs have been ratcheted up year after year, and they’ve turned into — especially for big guys and guys on the line of scrimmage — legitimate full-contact, non-padded practices. Nobody puts any restraints on them; they let guys go at it.”

Some teams are even making changes to the non-voluntary sessions. According to Fowler, the Packers moved their mandatory minicamp up a week, which could mean that a week of OTAs gets canceled, and as Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk writes, the Colts and Eagles have canceled mandatory minicamp altogether. Interestingly, although the Broncos were the first team to support the union’s stance on OTAs, Mike Klis of 9News.com reports that over 70 Broncos players showed up for the first day of Phase 2. The off-site injuries suffered by former Broncos Ja’Wuan James and DaeSean Hamilton and the potential money battle that could ensue may have played a role in that attendance figure.

The initial push from the union to have players boycott OTAs was due to persisting COVID-19 concerns, but as that situation improved in this country, NFLPA assistant executive director of external affairs George Atallah says the union began to shift focus. He says that, despite the complete absence of OTAs in 2020, injuries were down and the quality of the games remained the same (Twitter links via Lindsay Rhodes of the NFL Rhodes Show podcast). So, as Tretter implied, a permanent modification of OTAs into a purely mental exercise is appropriate.

Rhodes asked Atallah if the union is essentially attempting to renegotiate the CBA on the fly, and he conceded as much (Twitter link). And players are also pushing to make last year’s approach to training camp the new normal. Tretter said the ramp-up period that was instituted out of necessity last summer was widely embraced by players, who felt better both going into the regular season and coming out of it.

To be sure, the issue of the quality of the games is a subjective one, and whether there is a direct correlation between the ramp-up period and the absence of OTAs and any data showing a decrease in injuries is debatable. But, if everything was clear-cut, there wouldn’t be much need for negotiation.

In related news, masks are no longer required for fully-vaccinated players, coaches, or staff members, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. And teams will once again be permitted to hold training camp away from club facilities (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network).

Colts’ Darius Leonard: “You Know What You Deserve”

The Colts expect to hammer out an extension with Darius Leonard sometime soon. There’s mutual interest between the team and Leonard, but the linebacker isn’t looking to give a deep hometown discount. 

You know what you’ve done, and you know what you deserve,” Leonard said (Twitter link via Zak Keefer of The Athletic). “Hopefully, they see as much value as I see.”

Taken with the No. 36 overall pick in 2018, Leonard was an instant difference maker for the Colts. He’s proven to be a great second-round value, though his slot did not provide Indy with a fifth-year option. As a result, he’s currently on course for free agency in the spring of 2022.

Leonard made an All-Pro team in each of his first three seasons, including his first year when he also captured the Defensive Rookie of the Year trophy. He’s now aiming for top-of-the-market inside linebacker money and it’s a safe bet that he’ll get it. You could say that Leonard has been very solid but shy of spectacular, but he’s still young — he won’t turn 26 until July.

For the Colts, that could mean a deal worth about $20MM per year. Meanwhile, they’ll also work to lock up the No. 37 pick in the ’18 class, starting right tackle Braden Smith.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Leaning Against Signing Backup QB?

While Jacoby Brissett was asked to start in 2017 and 2019, he gave the Colts a high-end backup quarterback during their most recent two playoff seasons. But Brissett’s four-year Indianapolis tenure is done; he is now in Miami.

Currently stationed as QB2 options for the Colts: 2020 fourth-round pick Jacob Eason and sixth-round rookie Sam Ehlinger. Former Prairie View A&M passer Jalen Morton is also on the roster. Frank Reich said Eason, after his developmental rookie year, is currently penciled in as the Colts’ backup. That appears to be the team’s goal for the season.

Chris Ballard indicated discussions of backstopping Wentz with a more experienced passer have taken place. But the Colts want to go with one of their young QBs in this role.

That’s a great question. It’s one we’ve definitely thought about,” Ballard said of adding a veteran backup, via Fox 59’s Mike Chappell. “Let’s get through the preseason. Let’s see where we are. We want one of these young guys to be the guy. We think they can. We’ll keep working through that.”

Carson Wentz has run into a few notable injury issues during his career. After missing time during his senior season at North Dakota State, Wentz tore multiple knee ligaments to end his 2017 MVP bid. A back injury then ended Wentz’s 2018 season. He suffered a concussion in the Eagles’ 2019 wild-card loss to the Seahawks. It would certainly make sense for the Colts to add here, but for now, Eason — Georgia’s 2016 starter and Washington’s QB1 in 2019 — is the guy.

The free agent market houses a few notable names. Journeyman Brian Hoyer, whom the Colts used as Brissett’s backup in 2019, is available. So are Robert Griffin IIIBrett Hundley and Sean Mannion, multiyear backups in Baltimore, Arizona and Minnesota, respectively. Nick Mullens played more than each during his backup stay in San Francisco, but he is recovering from elbow surgery.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.