Green, Ridgeway — and Luck — final bit of business on Colts’ agenda
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – With three weeks remaining in their offseason workout regimen, the Indianapolis Colts still have some unfinished off-the-field business to resolve.
Along with signing quarterback Andrew Luck to an extension that undoubtedly will make him the highest-paid player in NFL history, the team must finalize contracts for two of its eight draft picks. Still unsigned are safety T.J. Green, a second-round pick, and offensive tackle Le’Raven Clark, a third-rounder.
We won’t dwell too long on Luck’s situation since there’s no update. Last month, owner Jim Irsay indicated he would like to have an extension in place prior to the start of training camp in late July. Discussions, he said, “are progressing well . . . I don’t see any reason why discussions can’t eventually before we get to training camp produce a new contract.’’
The extension figures to be a benchmark for future QB deals, perhaps averaging between $22-25 million and involving guarantees in the $60-65 million range. And the latter might be conservative.
What won’t take nearly as long is wrapping up the rookie deals for Green and Clark. We can thank the NFL’s labor agreement for that. According to the NFL Players Association, 194 of the 253 draft picks – 76.7 percent – are under contract. Consider:
- It includes a rookie wage scale that dramatically curtailed the enormous contracts given to rookies taken early in the draft.
The Rams signed quarterback Sam Bradford, the first overall pick in 2010 – the last year rookie deals were unfettered – to a six-year, $76 million contract. The Colts signed Andrew Luck, the No. 1 pick in ’12, to a four-year, $22.5 million deal. A fifth-year option of $16.155 million boosts the value to $38.655 million, still half of Bradford’s bounty.
- It essentially has taken the oft-times rancorous back-and-forth out of the negotiations. Rookie contracts are based on a slotting system that dictates the financial value in descending order.
First-round pick Ryan Kelly was the first domino to fall. He signed a four-year, $10.45 million contract that included the standard fifth-year option early this month. Five others quickly followed.
“You can go back and forth and try to nickel and dime this, that and the other (but) the kid wants to play football,’’ Coach Chuck Pagano said. “He wants to practice and he doesn’t want to worry about . . . the contract stuff.
“When you see (Kelly’s deal) and then you see four of the guys and then Morrison signs, it’s a great sign. They’ve got people to take care of that stuff and so it’s always good to have that behind them so their total focus is on the job at hand.’’
Sooner rather than later, the deals for Green and Clark will get finalized.
With the slotting system in mind, Green can anticipate a four-year deal worth approximately $4.2 million with a signing bonus of about $1.2 million. Clark’s four-year rookie contract is expected to be worth about $3.2 million with a signing bonus of about $750,000.
A capsule look at the six rookie contacts:
- Round 1, C Ryan Kelly: four years, $10.45 million, $5.8 million signing bonus. Includes a fifth-year team option. 2016 cap: $1,900,179.
- Round 4, DT Hassan Ridgeway: four years, $2.9 million, $560,224 signing bonus. 2016 cap: $590,056.
- Round 4, LB Antonio Morrison: four years, $2.859 million, $519,980 signing bonus. 2016 cap: $579,977.
- Round 5, OT Joe Haeg: four years, $2.582 million, $242,412 signing bonus. 2016 cap: $510,603.
- Round 7, LB Trevor Bates: four years, $2.412 million, $72,508 signing bonus. 2016 cap: $468,127.
- Round 7: C Austin Blythe: four years, $2.401 million, $61,988 signing bonus. 2016 cap: $465,497.