INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – One more time. And then, who knows?
That’s Adam Vinatieri’s mindset after agreeing to a one-year contract to remain with the Indianapolis Colts. He’ll return for a 24th season in the NFL and his 14th with the Colts.
“Will there be more?’’ Vinatieri said Friday. “We’ll see. If I play good and everything’s headed in the right direction, we’ll see.
“I’m not saying this one’s it. I’m not saying, ‘One year and I’m done for sure.’’’
Vinatieri’s return has been a topic of discussion since the Colts’ second-round playoff loss at Kansas City Jan. 12. His contract expires in early March, and there was no guarantee a relationship that began in 2006 would continue.
However, both sides wanted it happen. That’s why it took less than two hours for general manager Chris Ballard and Vinatieri’s agent to reach an agreement on a one-year deal. Vinatieri ran into Ballard at the team complex Thursday and that got things rolling.
“It was ‘Let’s get it done,’’’ Vinatieri said. “I just appreciate everything Chris brings to the table. We didn’t have to screw around like we have a few times in the past.
“This is exactly how I was hoping to get it done.’’
Financial terms were not immediately known, but it’s expected to be similar in value to the one-year, $3.625 million contract he signed last offseason. This deal might include an incentive based on field-goal accuracy that was missing from his most recent contract.
A deal in the $3.6 million range would rank Vinatieri in the top 10 of placekickers.
“At this point in my career I wanted something that was respectable and reasonable,’’ he said. “It wasn’t about the money. Listen, I don’t care to be at the top. For me it was more about coming back and having a better season and wanting more (Super Bowl) rings than it was about whether I could squeeze more out of the team.
“I won’t say during your career it’s never about finances because you want to get paid what you’re worth. But this was easy. I’m excited about coming back and playing another year.’’
Vinatieri’s staying power is reaching historic levels. Last season, he became just the fourth player to appear in a game at age 46. Only two players have played more than 24 seasons (George Blanda with 26 and Morten Andersen with 25). He has played in 353 regular-season games, tied for second-most with Gary Anderson and trailing only Andersen (382).
And then there’s his tenure with the Colts.
Vinatieri will join Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis as the only Colts to stick with the team for 14 seasons. Only John Unitas has more (17). Remember, Vinatieri already had played 10 seasons with the New England Patriots when he signed with the Colts as a free agent during the 2006 offseason.
“It feels like it’s been a long time, but then again it doesn’t feel like a long time,’’ he said. “Every year just seems to go a little faster.
“Someone mentioned last year that I had been here as long as Robert Mathis. I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ When I got here, Peyton and Reggie and Marvin and Robert, those were the guys that I thought were the best and that I was trying to live up to and show those guys I’m here for a reason.
“Now I’ve been here as long as they were. That’s pretty crazy.’’
“You keep waiting for the shoe to fall, and it doesn’t because he works,’’ he said of Vinatieri during an appearance with Dan Dakich on 1070 The Fan. “He works so hard to take care of his body. He’s such a pro. He’s such an impact.
“I don’t think you ever take into account – I didn’t think I’d ever say this with a kicker – but take into account a guy’s presence on a team, what it means. Now, they’ve got to perform, and he does perform. But his presence on the team is valuable. It’s valuable to us.’’
Vinatieri has embraced a leadership role in what was one of the NFL’s youngest locker rooms last season. There were 24 players with less than three years experience, including 11 rookies.
“The fun thing for me, and it’s been this way over the last handful of years, is I feel like I’ve not only continued to achieve in kicking, but I’ve had more of a leadership role. Not just with special teams, but with everything,’’ he said. “That’s very rewarding to me, to be able to help in anyway I can and not just kicking a ball through the posts.’’
Vinatieri’s most recent game was probably the one he’d just as soon forget. In the 31-13 loss to the Chiefs, he missed a 23-yard field goal and a PAT.
Leading up to that, Vinatieri had maintained his high level of performance. He converted 23-of-27 field goal attempts during the season, and two of the misses were 50-plus-yard attempts.
Over the last six seasons, Vinatieri has knocked down 169-of-190 attempts (88.9 percent), including 27-of-35 (77.1 percent) on attempts of at least 50 yards. Last season, he became the NFL’s all-time leader in points (2,600) and field goals (582).
As much as Vinatieri has been motivated to set himself apart from everyone else in the record books, he’s still driven to win championships. He’s appeared in five Super Bowls with the Colts and Patriots, and been a part of four world championship teams.
“I’m super excited being able to come back,’’ he said. “It was one of those things watching the season, the way it played out, watching our team play well at the end of the season and get an opportunity to go to the playoffs.
“I’m super, super pumped to come back for another year and continue the journey with this team for another year. It’s pretty awesome.’’