Jim Irsay

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.

Colts Notes: Luck, Anderson, Barrett

It was reported over the weekend that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck drew trade interest from teams as far back as the 2017 trade deadline. Team owner Jim Irsay addressed those rumors, saying teams were willing to part with a small fortune to acquire the quarterback, Fox 59’s Mike Chappell writes.

“Trust me, there were people who would have given an unprecedented amount of draft picks – all with the No. 1 behind them – for him,’’ Irsay said. “And we wouldn’t even think of even drifting in that direction. He’s our guy. We feel 100 percent confident he’s going to come back and lead this football team with some of the new teammates . . . to great things.”

Though he missed the entire 2017 season and has yet to resume throwing, Luck would still almost assuredly force teams trying to acquire him to give up multiple No. 1s and then some. A franchise quarterback who is just 28 years old rarely if ever pops up on the market. Not that there is a market, as the Colts reportedly laughed off inquiries at the time.

Luck led the Colts to an 11-5 mark and the playoffs in each of his first three seasons before missing half of the 2015 season with an injury. He returned and played 15 games the following campaign, going 8-7 and just missing the postseason. Though he was reportedly close to throwing a ball in January, Luck told reporters in early April that he has yet to throw an NFL-sized ball and is not rushing it.

Here’s more with the Colts:

  • In addition to laughing off trade requests, team general manager Chris Ballard told reporters about trading Andrew Luck — “I’m not putting that on my resume,” Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk writes. Though Irsay notes teams were willing to give up a king’s ransom for the quarterback, Ballard didn’t seem to be interested in the move no matter the cost.
  • On Saturday, the Colts shipped defensive lineman Henry Anderson to the Jets in exchange for a seventh-round pick. Addressing the trade, Ballard said the deal was based on scheme fit, saying Anderson worked better with the Jets than Indy, Chappell tweets.
  • Ballard also added that the team is bringing in former Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett for rookie minicamp and that he is not signed to the team, Chappell tweets. Barrett registered one of the greatest runs as a Buckeye, setting the school record with 38 victories, becoming the team’s only three-time captain and leading the team to a 4-0 record over rival Michigan.

 

Extra Points: Colts, Bills, Hightower, Beasley

Broncos quarterbacks struggled during the 2016 campaign, leading some to wonder if the team could pursue a veteran option this offseason. That thought has apparently crossed receiver Emmanuel Sanders‘ mind, as the wideout said he’d certainly benefit if the squad acquired Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

“I believe I would benefit,” Sanders said (via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com). “But one thing about it is: I’m always gonna take it back and I’m just gonna put it on John Elway. In John Elway I trust. If he does bring him over, I think Tony Romo will fit good in [Mike] McCoy’s system. It’s a no-huddle, up-tempo offense. I think that it’s gonna be similar to the Cowboys. I think he has Demaryius Thomas and some receiver No. 10 on the other side. I feel like we will win ballgames with Tony Romo or potentially a championship. At the same time, Paxton Lynch played in a spread offense at Memphis and he can be successful. I think Trevor can be successful. We’ll see what we do. I can’t sit up here and say ‘Bring Tony Romo!’ because I also have two other quarterbacks that are playing really well too.”

During his introductory press conference, Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said Trevor Siemian and Lynch would compete for the starting quarterback gig.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL as we wrap up this Monday evening…

  • Colts owner Jim Irsay will be hiring the team’s new general manager on his own, reports Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Since Irsay won’t be relying on other team officials, Florio believes Irsay will lean towards promoting executive Jimmy Raye III. The writer cites the owner’s familiarity with Raye, as well as the executive’s supposed willingness to stick with head coach Chuck Pagano.
  • The Bills have hired Chiefs assistant head coach/wide receivers coach David Culley as their new quarterbacks coach, reports Alex Marvez of The Sporting News (via Twitter). Culley spent more than a decade with the Eagles before joining Andy Reid and the Chiefs in 2013. We heard earlier tonight that the Chiefs had hired former Eagles wide receivers coach Greg Lewis for the same position.
  • Browns linebacker Jamie Collins received a four-year, $50MM extension earlier today. CBSSports.com’s Joel Corry believes the contract should serve as a “floor” for Collins former teammate, Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower (Twitter link). Corry notes that the Patriots will have a tough time convincing Hightower’s agent that the linebacker deserves less than the player they traded away.
  • Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley was close to being traded or cut during training camp, reports Gil Brandt of NFL.com (via Twitter). The fear of being let go apparently motivated the former first-rounder, as Beasley finished the season with 39 tackles, 15.5 sacks, and six forced fumbles.

Coaching/FO Notes: Manning, Redskins, Jaguars, Broncos

Despite Jim Irsay’s dream of a superstar decision-making duo featuring Peyton Manning and Jon Gruden failing to come to fruition, the Colts‘ owner is still trying to land Manning in a key front office role, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reports (on Twitter). During an appearance on Fox NFL Sunday, Glazer described Irsay as making a “strong push” to bring Manning back to the Colts.

However, the 40-year-old recently retired quarterback may not be ready to do that at this time. Previously loosely connected to a pursuit of a front office career, Manning coming back to the Colts is unlikely at this time, Bob Kravitz of WTHR tweets. The Colts did release Manning in 2012, but the future Hall of Fame passer did return for a special Colts-centric retirement ceremony last year.

Nevertheless, the owner’s faith in the Ryan Grigson/Chuck Pagano tandem may be wavering, despite each being tentatively expected to keep their jobs. Although, Irsay has yet to come out publicly and confirm that.

Here’s the latest from the NFL’s post-regular-season hiring period.

  • Today’s revelations have Irsay going after splashy candidates for jobs that aren’t yet open, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports the owner has yet to reach out to Nick Saban about the HC job. The Colts have been connected to Saban via rumors for a while now, but nothing substantial has come out of it.
  • The Redskins are “very likely” to promote quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh to their OC position to take Sean McVay‘s place, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. This arrangement would entail Jay Gruden calling plays, La Canfora notes. Cavanaugh has previously served as OC for two different franchises, doing so for the Bears and Ravens, but hasn’t functioned in that capacity since 2004. The 60-year-old longtime assistant has been with Washington since 2015.
  • Tom Coughlin has thus far either shown faith in the existing Jaguars assistants or brought in former Giants coaches in his first week in Jacksonville. The newly hired executive went in the latter direction on Saturday, hiring former Giants DC Perry Fewell to coach the Jags’ defensive backs, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports (on Twitter). This will mark Fewell’s second stay in this role. His first NFL coaching gig came as the Jags’ secondary coach under Coughlin from 1998-2002. The 54-year-old coach served as the Redskins’ DBs boss during the past two seasons. Fewell was Coughlin’s DC from 2010-14, serving as the coach whose Super Bowl champion 2011 team unveiled its famous NASCAR package. But Fewell will serve under retained DC Todd Wash and work a sixth stint as a secondary coach.
  • Manning’s second NFL team continued to piece together its Vance Joseph-led coaching staff. The Broncos are retaining strength and conditioning coach Luke Richesson, Mike Klis of 9News reports (via Twitter). Richesson will enter his sixth year in this position.

Colts Owner Jim Irsay Pursued Jon Gruden For Head Coaching Gig

It looks like the whispers were actually rooted in reality. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that Colts owner Jim Irsay pursued Jon Gruden for their head coaching job. The former NFL coach and current commentator “resisted overtures” from the organization and will be remaining with ESPN.

For what it’s worth, Gruden denied having any discussions with the Colts.

“I know nothing,” he told Schefter (Twitter link). “I’ve told people, I’m not coaching. I’m a broadcaster, I’m not a coach.”

Jon Gruden (vertical)Despite a report from earlier this week that the Colts were planning on retaining head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson, rumors still persisted that the organization was eyeing some major changes. Longtime Indianapolis sports writer Bob Kravitz wrote that the organization was hoping to pair Gruden with former quarterback Peyton Manning, who would slide into a front office role. Kravitz was adamant that these were just rumors, noting that no moves were imminent. However, he also noted his belief that the organization did indeed reach out to both Gruden and Manning.

Pagano has an impressive 49-31 record during his five seasons in Indianapolis. The team finished 11-5 during each of Pagano’s first three seasons, but the squad hasn’t managed to finish above .500 since then. The team’s two-season playoff drought is the longest since the late 1990s. The team hasn’t made the Super Bowl since 2009, and Schefter tweets that the team’s pursuit of Gruden is an indication that Irsay will do whatever it takes to return the team to the promised land.

Gruden compiled a 95-81 record during his 11 seasons as an NFL head coach. Gruden helped return the Raiders to relevancy in the early 2000s, and he subsequently led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl championship in 2002. The 53-year-old lasted seven seasons in Tampa Bay before being fired following the 2009 campaign. Since then, Gruden has served in a variety of roles for ESPN, including color commentator for their Monday Night Football broadcasts.

Despite a report from last year that he might have interest in coaching quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts, Gruden has continually said that he has no interest in returning to the NFL.

I’ve said it a million times. I’m very happy with what I’m doing. I have no intention of coaching,” Gruden said in an interview with ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike back in December.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped teams from pursuing the former coach. The Rams were said to have had interest in the coach, and reports from last offseason indicated that Gruden had interest in the Eagles head coaching vacancy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Potential London Team

Naturally, the latest London game brought more discussion of where the NFL bringing a team to England on a full-time basis stands. When the subject of a London Super Bowl surfaced, Roger Goodell pumped the brakes on such a maneuver until the NFL has a team stationed in London, via James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter).

As far as the seemingly monumental task of relocating a team to London, or installing one there as an expansion outfit, more emerged on that front as well. Jim Irsay is in favor of a London team but notes it can only be a worthwhile venture if a forward-thinking owner runs it with an understanding of both the American and European market.

That’s my goal as an owner, to find the right owner and the right team to come here,” Irsay told George Bremer of the Herald Bulletin (via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk). “… We look forward to having a permanent NFL team here.”

Smith points out the NFL remains serious about a London team. Several owners believe this is the league’s popularity apex in the states and the only way for the game to grow further would be a move overseas. While the right owner would help, it wouldn’t solve the logistical issues that continue to plague it. This makes Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star doubt this long-rumored London project will happen.

We heard in June the owners discussed this issue in-depth at a meeting, right down to what a playoff bracket would look like if a London trip was involved. But what did not come out of those meetings were how a London team would affect regular seasons and the players who uprooted to Europe to play for this hypothetical franchise.

Doyel doubts a London team could field the same kind of talent due to the life-changing relocation it would require and doesn’t think the NFLPA would back the move, as it would have to. Additionally, Doyel points out the team’s division mates would be at a disadvantage in having to make the trip annually — not to mention the actual London team’s road games occurring between five and eight hours apart from its time zone, with only one bye week to help for restoration purposes.

That would be tough,” Colts defensive end Kendall Langford told Doyel regarding being on a London-stationed team. “It would be tough for me, especially when you have to go to the West Coast. (But) anything is possible in this league.”

Nevertheless, this will continue to be a key topic in league circles, especially during weeks the league’s London showcase opens its Sunday slate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Working On Andrew Luck Extension

Now that the draft is winding down, the primary piece of business for the Colts this offseason will be whether or not they can come to a long-term agreement with Andrew Luck.

While that accord looks like a matter of when, not if, Jim Irsay confirmed the sides have been engaged in “serious” discussions, Mike Chappell of IndySportsCentral.com reports (on Twitter). Indianpolis’ owner added that he sees no reason the Colts and Luck can’t reach an accord before training camp.

We heard last month the Colts wanted to sign Luck to an extension by July 4. That arbitrary date doesn’t hold much significance, though, as Irsay confirmed today, via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star (on Twitter).

Although Luck is coming off his worst season as a pro after injuries limited him to seven starts for a Colts team that slunk out of the playoff race largely as a result of their quarterback play, a extension for the former Stanford signal-caller is expected to either become the new standard for quarterback salaries or close to it. Right now, Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers represent the NFL’s $22MM-per-year club, with Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning — who each agreed to extensions last year — being the $21MM-per-year group.

The 2012 No. 1 pick, Luck completed 55% of his passes in his fourth season, one that featured the Colts come into the season with Super Bowl expectations after qualifying for the AFC championship in 2014. Prior to that, however, Luck led the NFL in touchdown passes with 40 in 2014, the Colts’ third straight 11-5 season after they went 2-14 in the year between the Peyton Manning and Luck eras.

As of now, Luck is under contract for his fifth season on a fifth-year option worth $16.155MM. He won’t be eligible for a franchise tag until 2017.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images

Draft Rumors: Glennon, Vikings, Colts, Giants

Jason Licht said the Buccaneers did not engage in any trade discussions involving quarterback Mike Glennon, according to Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com (on Twitter), who added Licht and Dirk Koetter are “happy to have him.”

Jameis Winston‘s backup has not played since 2014 and was speculated as a trade target for quarterback-needy teams, joining Nick Foles, A.J. McCarron and the now-released Brian Hoyer in that regard. A 2013 third-round pick, Glennon is entering his contract year and as of now would net the Bucs a low-round compensatory selection if he departs in free agency.

The 26-year-old owns a 5-13 record during his starts as a rookie and then in 2014, completing 58.8% of his passes and throwing 29 touchdown passes compared to 15 interceptions before receding into a practice-only player once the Bucs drafted Winston.

Here’s the latest from Day 3 of the draft, beginning with a bit of history.

  • German League standout Moritz Boehringer informed the Vikings he’d sign with the team as a free agent after the draft, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, but those assurances evidently weren’t enough for the Vikings, who took the wide receiver project in the sixth round. A Vikings fan since he saw some Adrian Peterson YouTube videos in 2011, the 6-foot-4, 229-pound Boehringer is responsible for a landmark draft moment: he’s the first foreign-born player selected who didn’t attend a North American college (Twitter links courtesy of Tommason).
  • The Giants are going to add between 12 and 15 undrafted free agents, which is a slightly heightened figure from recent years, NJ.com’s Jordan Raanan tweets.
  • We heard earlier the Steelers were trying to move into the fifth round in order to select potentially a running back or quarterback, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets, but balked when the players they targeted were no longer on the board.
  • The Colts had some issues on their offensive front last year but did not necessarily intend to devote half of their initial six picks during the draft to the line, Jim Irsay told media (including Mike Chappell of IndySportsCentral.com). Ryan Kelly and Le’Raven Clark went to Indianapolis in the first and third rounds, respectively, with the team adding Carson Wentz‘s top blocker at North Dakota State in guard Joe Haeg in the fifth.

AFC Notes: Luck, Weddle, Jets, Broncos

Earlier this week, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said signing a contract extension to stay in Indianapolis “would be great.” It appears he’ll be in luck (no pun intended), as Colts owner Jim Irsay told Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star that an extension for the 25-year-old this summer “is the goal.”

“If we don’t get an agreement, we still have time,” Irsay continued. “And he is going to be signed. There’s a reasonably good chance we can come to that agreement this offseason. He will be here, trust me. Andrew and I have talked – we talked after the end of the season – and he couldn’t be more excited.”

Luck is set to count over $16MM against the Colts’ cap in 2016, the final year of his deal, before he’s scheduled for free agency. The chances of Luck hitting the market are essentially nonexistent, though, as the Colts will either extend the four-year veteran or, worst-case scenario, place the franchise tag on him. An extension could potentially make Luck the NFL’s highest-paid player.

More from the AFC:

  • Standout Chargers safety Eric Weddle, a pending free agent, said this week that he doesn’t expect to stay with the organization that took him in the second round of the 2007 draft. General manager Tom Telesco agrees. “He’s stated he’s ready to move on,” Telesco said, per ESPN’s Eric D. Williams. “And probably for all parties involved, that’s probably the best case.”
  • There’s no shortage of important Jets who are without contracts for 2016, as Kimberly A. Martin of Newsday writes. The best of the bunch is Pro Bowl defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, whom the Jets might slap the franchise tag on and then use as trade bait at the draft, according to Martin. It’s possible the Jets will pay D-lineman Damon Harrison instead, team him with Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams long term, and move Wilkerson for help elsewhere.
  • The Broncos are hoping to retain soon-to-be free agent linebacker Danny Trevathan, but he’s down on their priority list, per Mike Klis of 9News. “We’re going to get paid,” said Trevaithan, who Klis notes should be able to ink a deal worth $3MM to $6MM annually. Fellow linebacker Brandon Marshall‘s contract is also up, though he’ll be a restricted free agent. The Broncos could give him a first-round tender worth $3.5MM.

Coaching/GM Notes: Pagano, Browns, Fins, Cowboys, Lions

The latest news on various teams’ coaching and front office situations as Black Monday approaches:

  • Colts owner Jim Irsay will meet with Chuck Pagano on Monday to discuss the head coach’s future, writes Mike Wells of ESPN.com. After helping lead the Colts to playoff berths in his first three years with the team, Pagano’s club missed out this season during an injury-riddled, tumultuous campaign, going 8-8. As a result, the Colts are expected to let go of Pagano, whose contract is up, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (Twitter link).
  • With Ray Farmer out as the Browns’ general manager, the franchise might turn its football operations over to executive vice president/general counsel Sashi Brown, Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News reports (Twitter link).
  • Adam Gase, Jim Mora Jr., Mike Shanahan, Teryl Austin, Mike Smith, Dirk Koetter and Doug Marrone are all currently connected to the Dolphins’ head coaching job, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).
  • Not surprisingly, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones confirmed Sunday that Jason Garrett will return in 2016 for his seventh season as the team’s head coach. “Let me be real clear: There’s no thought of replacing Jason. At all,” Jones said, according to Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). Jones acknowledged that Garrett’s staff could change, though, as four assistant coaches’ contracts expire (Twitter link via Williams). Whether those changes happen will be up to Garrett, who Jones says is “the ultimate-decision maker” when it comes to the coaching staff (Twitter link via Fox Sports’ Matt Mosley).
  • Lions president Rod Wood says the club’s search for a new general manager will begin in earnest Monday, tweets Tim Twentyman of the team’s website. Interim GM Sheldon White will be among those interviewed, according to Wood (Twitter link via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press), and Greg Gabriel of NFPost.com reports the Lions will also talk to Giants assistant GM Kevin Abrams (via Twitter). Another Giants executive, Marc Ross, could also get a look, tweets Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo.