The Indianapolis Colts are just days away from reporting to Anderson University to being training camp, and it's a season filled with a ton of excitement, hope, and expectation for the Colts. Owner Jim Irsay told ESPN's Mike Wells that, "it's hard to remember a season so anticipated like this one is," noting that there were very high expectations during the Peyton Manning era but adding that, "this year is really special."
"We have some special veterans we brought in," Irsay continued. "When you take a team like we had [last year] and add really special guys, to all of sudden to have those guys, their presence as we go into September, that's special."
Obviously, the biggest storyline of the season for the Colts will be their on-field production, as they have Super Bowl hopes and expectations and a realistic chance to get there. But another storyline that we have been monitoring is the contract status of a number of key players - something that Irsay also addressed when talking with Wells.
"We have a little time with trying to work on a few extensions," the Colts' owner said. "There's no reason Anthony Castonzo and T.Y. Hilton can't get done. Look for us to keep core players and our top players. I don't think it'll be a distraction. I can't see why we can't get something done before Labor Day with T.Y. and Anthony."
Here are a few of the biggest takeaways from what Irsay said: firstly, he confirmed that the Colts fully plan to keep both T.Y. Hilton and Anthony Castonzo around, something that has been widely assumed. But secondly, Irsay interestingly mentioned that they might even reach an extension before Labor Day, the weekend before the regular season begins. Note that he absolutely isn't saying that Labor Day is the timeline for these extensions, but the very fact that he mentioned it at all shows that the Colts are intent on re-signing some of their key players sooner rather than later.
Recently there was a report from Bleacher Report's Jason Cole that the Colts and Hilton were negotiating a new deal and that it could be coming relatively soon, and while Irsay's comments don't confirm that report necessarily, it could be entirely possible that the Colts are currently in negotiations with Hilton and possibly even Castonzo about an extension.
Both players are due to become free agents after the season, as well as others like tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener. Hilton and Castonzo are obviously two priorities for the team, along with quarterback Andrew Luck, who's mega-extension is likely coming next offseason as well.
One other key Colt who will be a free agent at the end of the season is head coach Chuck Pagano, who wasn't extended this offseason. Wells says that Pagano isn't likely to get an extension before this season, but Irsay remains positive that they'll keep the head coach around long-term. "With Chuck's situation, we've had conversations and it's all been friendly," he said. "He understands where I'm coming from. I understand where he's coming from. My hope is we're going to have a great season and Chuck will end up eventually signing an extension. Chuck is really motivated and he's excited about this year."
There was nothing concrete in this interview from Irsay but plenty of interesting stuff nonetheless, particularly when it came to contract situations. He didn't say for sure that T.Y. Hilton and/or Anthony Castonzo will get a new deal before the regular season, but he reiterated that the Colts want to keep both around long-term and that there's no reason why the Colts couldn't reach extensions with both of them by Labor Day. So as training camp begins this weekend and the Colts return to the practice field, we'll also be keeping an eye on the contract status of a few crucial Colts players. Whether those extensions come this year or next, however, the Colts fully intend on keeping both of them around.