INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The first step in determining whether Adam Vinatieri and the Indianapolis Colts continue their relationship comes Tuesday.
That’s when the decorated placekicker is scheduled to meet with general manager Chris Ballard. The two exchanged texts Sunday after players cleaned out their locker room cubicles and headed into the offseason, but the face-to-face meeting should offer an indication whether Vinatieri returns for a 24th season overall and a 14th with the Colts.
“Do I think he can still kick in the league and be a really good kicker? Absolutely I do,’’ Ballard said Monday.
Is that in Indy?
“We’ll see,’’ Ballard replied.
Vinatieri signed a one-year, $3.625 million contract last March. It was the fifth deal he signed with the Colts since leaving the New England Patriots as a free agent after the 2005 season.
Will a sixth contract be offered?
It would appear the major decision rests with the Colts. Do they want him back? He turned 46 last month and is coming off his 23rd season.
Vinatieri said Sunday he was going to take time to “decompress a little bit and see where it goes,’’ but he’s never wavered. He’s shown no signs of wanting to retire.
“I love playing football,’’ Vinatieri said. “I love being in the locker room with these guys. I can’t imagine doing anything else.’’
The freshest memory of Vinatieri is him missing a 23-yard field goal and PAT in Saturday’s 31-13 AFC divisional round loss at Kansas City. But during the season, he converted 23-of-27 field-goal attempts (85.2 percent), including 4-of-6 from 50-yards or longer.
He dealt with a groin injury during the season, and it’s uncertain how that impacted his kicking in the closing months.
Since 2013, Vinatieri has converted 169-of-190 attempts (88.9), including 27-of-35 of his 50-yarders. This season, he supplanted Hall of Famer Morten Andersen as the NFL’s career scoring leader with 2,600 points and 580 field goals.
Ballard made it clear Vinatieri’s value transcends the playing field.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been around a special teams player that has as much impact as Adam does in the locker room, from a positive standpoint,’’ he said. “All of our young players that come in get to see Adam Vinatieri work, rehab, prepare his body every year, be a pro, handle the hard times, handle the good times.
“I mean all of that, what Adam brings, brings a lot of value to this team.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.