Colts’ Matt Hasselbeck ‘strongly leaning toward’ 18th season

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Matt Hasselbeck

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 11, 2016) – One question dealing with Matt Hasselbeck’s NFL career appears to have been determined.

The Indianapolis Colts’ backup quarterback told a Seattle radio show that he’s “strongly leaning toward’’ returning for an 18th season. Hasselbeck admitted in late December he wouldn’t make a decision until huddling with his family.

The next question: Where?

Hasselbeck, who turns 41 in September, has spent the past three seasons in Indianapolis as Andrew Luck’s backup. However, he becomes an unrestricted free agent March 9 when his contract expires.

The Colts waived Ryan Lindley earlier this week, leaving Luck, Josh Freeman and Stephen Morris remain on the roster. Freeman started the regular-season finale against the Tennessee Titans and led the Colts to a 30-24 win as Luck (kidney), Hasselbeck (right shoulder) and Charlie Whitehurst (hamstring) were out with injuries.

Hasselbeck was instrumental in keeping the Colts relevant throughout last season as Luck missed nine games with injuries. He led the Colts to a 5-3 record while passing for 1,690 yards, nine touchdowns, five interceptions and an 84.0 passer rating. He also played through a bad intestinal disorder and injuries to his ribs, right shoulder, jaw and back.

Owner Jim Irsay has been adamant the team must get younger during the offseason, and that might include moving on from Hasselbeck, who again would represent the NFL’s oldest non-kicker. Freeman is 28.

Also, finances might be a factor. Hasselbeck earned $3 million in 2015 – a $1 million signing bonus and $2 million base salary. Freeman’s non-guaranteed base salary next season is $760,000.

When asked in late December whether he anticipated playing another season, Hasselbeck smiled.

“Yeah, maybe next year for sure,’’ he said. “I’m encouraged about the possibility. I haven’t made any decisions, but I think how this year went I feel good, like that would be a good option. But we’ll see.

“I would anticipate right somewhere after the Super Bowl, maybe that’d be an appropriate time and some of that will be driven by if there’s interest out there, in here or wherever.

“We’ll see. I know I had a lot of fun this year. If my contract wasn’t up, I’d just be planning on coming back here April 21st.”

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