So are the Indianapolis Colts in a retooling or a rebuilding mode heading into the offseason?
If you ask the players, they would prefer to use the retooling philosophy. In their minds, get some injured players back and the Colts can be right back in the thick of the AFC South title race and once again be a contender for the AFC championship.
Team owner Jim Irsay, though, sees a tougher road ahead.
“Clearly we are in a rebuilding stage, there is no sugar-coating the fact that there are areas of talent that we need,” Irsay said earlier this week.
“So the decisions that are coming up are crucial, and obviously, when you’re looking at general manager, head coach, having the number one pick in the draft and knowing that you’re rebuilding in some areas, that is about as massive as it gets. But we are up for the challenge, and I’m excited about the future.”
The Colts’ owner wants a general manager with a long-range view and a plan for restoring the Colts after this year’s 2-14 record. He wants someone with a sense of the franchise’s place in the community.
Still, Irsay made one thing very clear. The buck stops with him when it comes to making the final call on all of the pressing issues that are currently facing the Colts’ franchise.
“When it comes to some of those major decisions, it ultimately has always been presented to me that, ‘This is what we’re thinking, but it’s your call.’ That is the way it has to be,” he said.
The first of those “major decisions” will be deciding on just who will take over as the day-to-day leader of the franchise.
Potential candidates to be the Colts’ new general manager include Dave Gettleman (Giants), Eric DeCosta (Ravens), Reggie McKenzie (Packers), John Dorsey (Packers), Les Snead (Falcons); Jason Licht (Patriots), Tom Gamble (49ers), Duke Tobin (Bengals).
Tobin is a former scout for Indianapolis and the son of former Colts GM Bill Tobin. The Colts, meanwhile, have requested permission from Baltimore officials to talk to DeCosta.
Whomever is hired will have to make the call on whether to keep or jettison coach Jim Caldwell and his coaching staff. But that’s only the only tough call that Irsay and a new general manager will have to address in the coming months.
Quarterback Peyton Manning, 35, is due a $28 million option bonus on March 8 that triggers the final four years of his five-year, $90 million contract.
If the Colts opt to not pay it and Manning declines to push back the date, the NFL’s only four-time MVP becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Is Manning optimistic he’ll be where he needs to be, physically, in early March?
“We’ll see,” he said. “I may, but I’m probably not going to share.”
• Caldwell stays or goes? — Coach Jim Caldwell and his coaching staff’s status remains in limbo until team owner Jim Irsay decides on who to hire as general manager.
Irsay said this week that the process will be “extensive,” and “it could take multiple weeks.” The search began when both vice chairman Bill Polian and vice-president/general manager Chris Polian were fired.
“I think that it is possible that it is not resolved until the new general manger is here. But like I said, I don’t want to commit or put myself in a box to any scenario, because if I see a direction for the franchise to go that gives us the best chance to win and win the right way for the long term, then I wouldn’t rule out that scenario,” the Colts owner said.
“I would anticipate that the new general manager would be hired before we confirmed that Jim is going to be back or that we are going to go in another direction. But again, I’m not saying that is definitely the way it’s going to happen, because what happens in going forward now and beyond is that things happen that you don’t anticipate.”
n Is Manning going to play in 2012? — Irsay isn’t sure if the four-time National Football League MVP will be healthy to play next season. Nobody — team doctors, trainers or Manning’s own surgeon — is sure.
“I don’t [know]. I’ve always said, to me this is, first and foremost, a medical and health situation. I think the key thing for me has always been, and particularly since the fusion, is it safe for him to go on the field? Is it something where he is healthy enough to resume his career, to go on the field and play at a high level, but also to be in harm’s way in the physical game that we have?” the Colts owner said.
“What he means to the franchise, what he means to the Colts and to the league, [his health] to me always has been the most important decision for me. So that is something that we are continuing to see where we’re at with [the situation].”
• Top needs for next season —- Here’s a quick look at three positions where the Colts may be looking to improve for the 2012 season.
Wide receiver: Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez are now free agents. Wayne wants to come back but may price himself too high for the Colts to make a deal. Garcon reportedly wants look around before deciding on whether to come back or not. Gonzalez, meanwhile, found himself on the outside looking in during the last couple of seasons under the Polians’ regime.
Cornerback: The Colts are young here already, but Indianapolis could stand to come up with a large infusion of ready-to-play talent. Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey are young veterans. Rookie Chris Rucker and second-year Kevin Thomas also saw extensive work in 2011.
Interior offensive line: It would appear as if the Colts are set at both offensive tackle spots for the long term after drafting Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana in 2011. And a pair of veteran starters, C Jeff Saturday and OG/OT Ryan Diem, are contemplating retirement. Indianapolis would appear to have needs at center and offensive guard.
So are the Indianapolis Colts in a retooling or a rebuilding mode heading into the offseason?
Colts sign former Giants receiver Nicks
Ryan Grigson loves to make a deal. The Indianapolis Colts third-year general manager has earned a reputation around the National Football League as a guy who will act decisively and quickly if there’s somebody that he really wants. That trait proved true again Friday as the Colts added former New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks to the team’s roster.
Colts keep Vinatieri, Davis, Bradshaw in fold
With the NFL’s free-agency signing period getting underway at 4 p.m. Tuesday, it was fairly certain that the Indianapolis Colts would be active participants.
The Colts went into free agency with around $40 million of salary cap space in their back pocket. Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson, however, had indicated at the National Football Scouting Combine that he wanted to be judicious in how the team spent its money.
Colts re-sign punter McAfee for five years
Shortly before 10 a.m. Friday, Pat McAfee — the Indianapolis Colts’ punter and kickoff specialist — tweeted that he had a special announcement to make at the top of the hour.
Colts excited to add talent, experience of D'Qwell Jackson
With the National Football League's veteran free agency period set to start on March 11, the Indianapolis Colts front office has started to make the decisions needed to retool for the 2014 season.
Former Cleveland Browns inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who had been released by Cleveland on Feb. 26, signed a reported four-year, $22 million deal with Indianapolis on Thursday. Only the first two years of the contract are guaranteed.
Jackson (6-foot, 240) started 96-of-97 games over the past eight seasons with the Browns since being selected by the team in the second round of the 2006 draft. He played collegiately at Maryland.
EIU’s Garoppolo hopes to impress scouts
Let the Eastern Illinois University quarterback tradition continue.
Mike Shanahan, Jeff Christensen, Sean Payton, Tony Romo and, now, Jimmy Garoppolo. All were record-setting quarterbacks on the Division II and FCS levels.
Grigson says Colts likely not to make big splash in free agency
Don’t expect the Indianapolis Colts to go wild in the upcoming free-agent market.
While the Colts will have anywhere from $33 to $37 million to spend this offseason, Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson says the franchise will be a bit more selective when it comes to signing any prospective veteran free agents.
SEASON IN REVIEW: Colts make progress in 2013 season
The Indianapolis Colts made plenty of progress over the course of the 2013 season.
And the Colts fought through some adversity as injuries hit the team hard at several positions, most notably at wide receiver (Reggie Wayne), tight end (Dwayne Allen), running back (Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw), offensive line (Donald Thomas) and cornerback (Greg Toler).
Moving on: Coach likes what he sees, gets ready for phase three of Colts’ development
Time to move on. In the wake of the Indianapolis Colts’ 43-22 AFC divisional playoff loss at New England last Saturday night, head coach Chuck Pagano is ready to take time off and then start getting after it again late this spring.
Blunt force trauma: Patriots running game too much for Colts
LeGarrette Blount ran the New England Patriots into their third straight AFC championship game.
The 250-pound back had four touchdown runs and New England kept Andrew Luck from a second straight comeback win to beat the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 Sunday night.
‘Still the same Tom’
How do you attempt to stop, or even slow down, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady?
Belichick impressed with Luck's skills, poise under pressure
Bill Belichick doesn’t have to be reminded about the talents of Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck.
Although Belichick’s New England Patriots handed the Colts a 59-24 loss in Foxboro last year, he came away from the game with plenty of respect for the young signal caller.
Colts, Patriots, both with many new faces, to meet in playoffs for fourth time
Here we go again. Yet another Indianapolis Colts-New England Patriots playoff game.
Up next for Colts: Brady, Patriots
Hello Tom Brady.
Thanks to the San Diego Chargers’ 27-10 AFC wild-card playoff win over Cincinnati on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, the Indianapolis Colts will be traveling to Foxboro, Massachusetts to face Brady’s New England Patriots Saturday (8:15 p.m.).
Luck leads huge rally as Colts grab first playoff win for Pagano
What a game.
Just when it looked like the Indianapolis Colts were going to be blown out at home in an AFC wild-card playoff game by the Kansas City Chiefs, the impossible happened.
Colts sell out today's Kansas City game
There will be no local television blackouts in the NFL this weekend.
The Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers said Friday that their weekend wild-card playoff games are sellouts. Normally, teams must sell out 72 hours before kickoff to have a game broadcast in their local market. The NFL gave the Colts, Bengals and Packers an extra day to do it.
The Colts host Kansas City today. On Sunday, the Packers host San Francisco and the Bengals host San Diego.
NFL honors Colts' Mathis with Deacon Jones Award
Robert Mathis never got to see Deacon Jones take down opposing quarterbacks in person.
He learned to appreciate Jones’ creativity over time.
The Colts Pro Bowl linebacker and newly crowned sacks champion was honored Thursday as the inaugural winner of the NFL’s Deacon Jones Award, which goes to the league’s sacks leader. Mathis will be recognized at the NFL award banquet Feb. 1.
Victory over Chiefs means nil, Mathis says
Robert Mathis doesn’t care that the Indianapolis Colts registered a 23-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium two weeks ago.
Record-setting Indy win
Finish the National Football League regular season strong. That’s what the Indianapolis Colts wanted to accomplish Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
In major gain, Colts lead NFL in fewest turnovers
Play clean. That’s been a credo that the Indianapolis Colts have tried to live by this season.
Has Luck's growth been accelerated by Colts' adversity? Probably
Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck is quickly becoming known as a guy who can quickly adjust to any situation.
Toeing the line: Colts’ offensive line getting healthy, finding niche as playoffs near
The Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line has certainly taken its share of hits this season, both on and off the field.
Colts’ chief strength: No panic
The Indianapolis Colts had watched the Kansas City Chiefs march downfield for an easy score on the first series of the game, yet nobody on their sideline seemed to be worried.
In fact, it seemed as if their confidence soared.
Luck has knack for knowing when to run
To run or not to run. When it comes to Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck, his competitive nature usually comes into play.
Loss at Chiefs could cost Colts bye in playoffs
Chuck Pagano doesn’t have to make his Indianapolis Colts players aware of the playoff implications surrounding the team’s road game at Kansas City on Sunday.
Back in the mix: Colts are hoping to improve their playoff seeding in final two weeks of NFL’s regular season
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano stresses that he is not a scoreboard watcher when it comes to other National Football League games.
Back in stride: Colts finally put points on board early, roll to ninth victory of season
It had been a long time in coming, a National Football League game in which the Indianapolis Colts had a comfortable lead well into the second half.
Whalen, Richardson make waves on offense
It’s not too hard to figure out who the offensive and defensive players of the game were in the Indianapolis Colts’ 25-3 win over Houston Sunday.
Mathis, Colts hoping to gain defensive momentum against Texans
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis, one of the Indianapolis Colts two most vested veterans, has taken it upon himself to make sure his team is ready for Sunday’s AFC South matchup with Houston (1 p.m., CBS Sports).
Mathis and injured wide receiver Reggie Wayne have been with the Colts the longest. They, along with defensive end Cory Redding and safety Antoine Bethea, have become important voices in the Indianapolis locker room.
Colts not apologizing for way they won division title
Backing into the AFC South title? The Indianapolis Colts are not apologizing to anyone for claiming the franchise’s eighth division crown since the start of the 2002 season.
Bungles — including refs’ — benefit Bengals
Give the Cincinnati Bengals plenty of credit. In a game that pitted two of the AFC’s better teams and two of the National Football League’s best young quarterbacks, the home-standing Bengals took care of business.
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