Let's just get this out of the way right now: Andrew Luck isn't going anywhere. He's the Colts' franchise quarterback and will be for the next decade, and there is zero doubt about whether he'll remain in Indianapolis.
With that said, however, there are many people who are wondering what is going on with Luck's contract status. The team picked up his fifth-year option recently but haven't yet given him a new contract, and that has led to many, such as CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, to say this:
It's not often that you get agreement between front office execs and agents, but upon the issue of Andrew Luck's contract talks everyone I chat with says the same thing: Why the hell aren't the Colts doing whatever they can to sign him now?
If you ask a Colts fan, they see nothing wrong or strange with the way the Colts are doing things. But if you ask fans of other teams, they have some questions about why the Colts are waiting so long to extend Luck. So this article is intended to help everyone understand what exactly is going on with the Colts and Luck's contract.
Why are the Colts waiting to extend Andrew Luck?
The Colts' thinking when it comes to not extending Andrew Luck yet is simple: why do it when they don't have to? He's entering the fourth year of his rookie contract, and with the Colts picking up Luck's fifth year option they have the quarterback under contract for the next two seasons. Luck will have a cap hit just north of $7 million in 2014, which is significantly cheaper than the cap number that he would have once he gets a new deal. This allowed the team to pursue other free agents such as Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Trent Cole, and others. The Colts have made it very clear that they are pursuing a Super Bowl title this season, and anything they can do to help that cause they will do - including waiting to give Luck an extension to free up available cap space for other players. This has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with remaining questions that the Colts have about Luck or not wanting to treat him well - it's simply because they don't feel the rush to extend him right now with a Super Bowl push and still two years for him under contract.
What problems could arise by the Colts waiting?
There are two main issues that could potentially by delaying the extension for a player. The first one is that a player could feel like he's not being treated fairly and that the team is taking advantage of him, which could result in some bitterness towards the franchise and an inclination to leave in free agency. But this won't come into play with Andrew Luck and the Colts, so that's not a worry. The real issue that could arise is that Luck's price will continue to go up. The sky is the limit for him and each year he figures to just keep getting better. So the longer the Colts wait to extend Luck, the more money they will have to pay him in the coming massive deal. He already figures to be the highest paid player in the league, but that price tag will continue to increase each year. By extending Luck now, the Colts would likely get him as cheap as they will possibly have the chance to get him, and that contract would be a long-term one - perhaps saving the Colts some money in the long run.
When should we expect an extension for Luck?
Next offseason. Owner and CEO Jim Irsay confirmed as much at the annual owner's meetings earlier this year, saying that their plan was to extend Luck next offseason and not this year. So yes, the Colts picked up Luck's fifth-year option, but it's highly unlikely that he ever plays a game under that option, rather getting an extension before that happens.
Should Andrew Luck take a "hometown discount"?
I've included this question in here for two reasons: firstly, because we've looked at how, by delaying, Luck's price will likely go up, and secondly, because there are a number of fans who think that he might and should. My response: stop it. Seriously, just stop that thinking. Sure, there are more important things to Andrew Luck than money, and yes, he's a team player, but he should get as much as possible in this contract. When a player takes a "hometown discount," it's often toward the end of his career as he's trying to win a Super Bowl to finish his career (and along this point, often "hometown discounts" aren't much of a discount but rather just cap restructuring). For Luck, however, he'll be 26-years old next offseason and he should get as much as possible out of this deal. He deserves to be the league's highest-paid player and that's what he'll be.
And if you want to think of it another way, consider this: Andrew Luck has been playing on a massive discount in his first three seasons, and he will be again in his fourth year. The Colts have actually gotten a fantastic deal with Luck that is pretty rare in NFL history, as the new rookie wage scale has made Luck very underpaid. And during this time where he's, in essence, taking a discount (though not by choice), the Colts have surrounded him with a rather average (or below average) team. He still gets hit as much as any other quarterback, has no running game, and has a very average defense. And that's with a discount. So I don't think that him taking a discount for the Colts would automatically make them Super Bowl champions, because he's been playing on a super cheap contract recently and the Colts have failed to surround him with a great cast. If it weren't for Andrew Luck, the Colts would be in the bottom third of the NFL. He deserves the money the Colts will soon be paying him.
If Andrew Luck would happen to take less money for the Colts, then that's just another reason for Colts fans to love him. But let's stop with this narrative thinking that Luck should take a "hometown discount," because he deserves to be the highest-paid player in the league and that's precisely what he will be soon enough.
So what's the bottom line?
Don't worry. Andrew Luck will be given a contract extension soon enough - very likely next offseason. He'll be a Colt for years to come, and while he'll be the highest-paid player in football, he'll be worth it. The biggest question for the Colts isn't about Andrew Luck's contract but rather the contracts of other players. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen are among the most notable players whose contracts will expire next offseason. They'll keep both Castonzo and Hilton, and they would love to keep both tight ends, but that's no certainty. So instead of spending time talking about Andrew Luck's contract, the more interesting focus is on the contracts of some of the other players.