With training camp now underway, contract situations will begin taking a backseat to actual play on the field, but that doesn't mean that there won't be any contract talk. In fact, two key Colts might be in line for an extension before the regular season even begins.
Team owner and CEO Jim Irsay noted as much when talking with ESPN's Mike Wells last week, as he said that, "I can't see why we can't get something done before Labor Day" when it comes to extensions for wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and left tackle Anthony Castonzo.
The Colts are reportedly currently in negotiations with Hilton's camp on a long-term extension, though the receiver declined to share details when speaking with the media on Saturday, instead saying that it was between the Colts and his agent.
Anthony Castonzo, however, confirmed the news himself that his camp and the Colts are working on a new deal.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Colts?src=hash">#Colts</a> LT Anthony Castonzo confirms he and team in discussions for a potential long-term contract. Entering the last year of rookie deal.</p>— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) <a href="https://twitter.com/zkeefer/status/628228454786408448">August 3, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Because Castonzo was a first round draft pick in 2011, he fell under the rookie wage scale but also brought with him an option for a fifth-year for the team - something the Colts exercised with the left tackle and have exercised again with quarterback Andrew Luck. While Luck hasn't reached that fifth-year yet, however, Castonzo is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and he's scheduled to make $7.438 million in 2015.
Castonzo is one of the top priorities for a team that will have a number of key free agents in the coming year or two. Playing as the left tackle for Andrew Luck for his entire career so far, Castonzo has been the definition of reliable, as he has started 62 games in a row (66 total) and, in 2014, played more snaps than any other offensive lineman in football. More than that, however, Castonzo is good at what he does, serving as a capable blocker in the run game and a standout pass protecter - in 2014, he allowed just two sacks and nine hits in 726 snaps in pass protection (per Pro Football Focus). The Colts have had a lot of issues along their offensive line, but the one spot they have no questions about is arguably the most important: left tackle, protecting Andrew Luck's blindside.
With massive contracts surely coming for Luck and likely coming for Hilton, as well as other soon-to-be free agents such as Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, the Colts might have to make some tough decisions. What's clear, however, is that they fully intend on keeping Castonzo around, and if that's the case, there's no reason why they couldn't just work out that extension this year instead of next, when the left tackle then has all the leverage. That seems to be exactly what the Colts are doing, as they aren't just currently talking with T.Y. Hilton's camp about a potential long-term deal, they're also talking with Anthony Castonzo's camp. Don't be surprised if something gets done before the 2015 regular season begins.