INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Once you get past the ugly ending, there’s a bright future ahead.
Listen to guard Quenton Nelson, who exceeded the enormous hype that followed him to Indy as the 6th overall pick in the April NFL Draft.
“I am excited for the future because we have a young team – a young talented team – and we’ve got guys in this locker room that want to get better and want to improve,’’ he said. “I mean, we’ve got a great defense and a great offense. I mean, getting to come back in the offseason and play with these guys again after the season . . . seeing everyone and how much they have improved.
“Getting to play with them for another season is going to be great.’’
The Indianapolis Colts re-energized the city and a fan base that had grown increasingly anxious following three consecutive seasons of non-winning records and no playoff appearances.
That all changed under the steady hand of first-time head coach Frank Reich. The Colts became just the third team in NFL history to reach the playoffs following a 1-5 start. They went to Houston and overwhelmed the Texans on wild-card weekend.
The unexpected nature of the divisional-round loss at Kansas City – 31-13, and it really wasn’t that competitive – temporarily dimmed the optimism, but the upcoming offseason is all about presenting general manager Chris Ballard the resources to further upgrade the roster.
There’s the April 25-27 draft, but first there’s free agency and the fact the Colts have more projected salary cap space than any team in the league – more than $120 million.
The two-phase nature of free agency begins with Ballard, Reich and the personnel staff determining with of their own free-agents-to-be merit re-signing. At the top of our list is Adam Vinatieri, Dontrelle Inman and Mark Glowinski. Clayton Geathers figures to be a tougher call considering his health issues.
Vinatieri is just the fourth player in NFL history to play at age 46 and is coming off his 23rd season. He became the NFL’s career scoring leader during the season and converted 23-of-27 field goal attempts, but endured a tough day at Arrowhead Stadium. He bounced a 23-yard attempt off the left upright – the shortest miss of his career – and pushed a PAT wide right.
Vinatieri has given every indication he wants to return for a 24th season.
Our remedy to the situation: sign Vinatieri to another one-year contract worth approximately $3.5 million.
“I love playing football,’’ he said. “I love being in the locker room with these guys. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
“Like with anybody, we’re going to sit back and decompress a little bit and see where it goes.’’
Geathers wants to return to the team that selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft.
“I want to be here,’’ he said. “I want to be a Colt.’’
With so much going on, here’s a breakdown of several offseason issues:
- Placekicker Adam Vinatieri
- Safety Clayton Geathers
- Guard Mark Glowinski
- Guard Matt Slauson
- Wide receiver Dontrelle Inman
- Wide receiver Ryan Grant
- Cornerback Pierre Desir
- Safety Mike Mitchell
- Defensive lineman Margus Hunt
- Defensive tackle Al Woods
- Linebacker Najee Goode
- Offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb
- Safety J.J. Wilcox
- Tight end Ryan Hewitt
- Wide receiver Chester Rogers
- Center Evan Boehm
- Safety Matthias Farley
- Long-snapper Luke Rhodes
- Cornerback Chris Milton
- Safety Corey Moore
- Tight end Ross Travis
- Center Josh Andrews
- Running back Jonathan Williams
- Wide receiver Marcus Johnson
- Quarterback Brad Kaaya
APRIL 25-27 NFL DRAFT
The Colts have nine picks, including the 26th overall, an additional second-round pick acquired from the New York Jets in a 2018 trade and an anticipated fourth-round compensatory pick for wideout Donte Moncrief signing with Jacksonville last offseason. A look at the allotment, including the tentative overall slot for each pick. The selections in the final three rounds will be altered once the NFL hands out the compensatory picks:
- Round 1/26th overall
- Round 2/34 (from Jets)
- Round 2/59
- Round 3/90
- Round 4/123
- Round 4/compensatory
- Round 5/154
- Round 6/187
- Round 7/218
Home: Tennessee, Houston, Jacksonville, Denver, Oakland, Atlanta, Carolina, Miami.
Away: Tennessee, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles Chargers, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh.