Given smoke gathering about what direction the Colts might take at quarterback, Anthony Castonzo pondering retirement, and other contract extension rumors that have started to get traction on social media, one could be excused for having a rather active imagination about what Irsay could have to share with the media just days before the NFL Combine.
Here are the key topics Irsay had to discuss and nuggets on numerous rumors.
ANTHONY CASTONZO RETURNING?
Outside of the Colts’ future at the quarterback position, Anthony Castonzo’s decision to return to the game could be the most important. It has taken Indianapolis far too long to put together a solid offensive line and Castonzo is an important piece. Losing him would create a massive need for a units whose primary tackle depth is already set to hit free agency.
Irsay: "Hoping to get something done with Anthony Castonzo, but there's nothing to report on that right now. Chris Ballard will have more on that."— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) February 23, 2020
Irsay: “We hope, and we think, we’ll get something done with Anthony Castonzo."— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) February 23, 2020
Jim Irsay says that he is hopeful the team can get something done with LT Anthony Castonzo soon. That seems to indicate Castonzo is open to returning for a 10th season.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) February 23, 2020
IF it gets doe, that's a huge, huge win for the Colts this offseason.
Irsay: Anthony Castonzo. Haven't talked to him personally, A Pro Bowl left tackle. We want him to come back. Strong likelihood he will. 'I'm hopeful.'— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) February 23, 2020
One could speculate that Irsay’s statements tend to indicate that Castonzo has at least suggested that he is seriously open to the idea of returning to football. Irsay could have indicated that they simply don’t have anything new to report. Stating that he thinks and hopes something will get done and that Chris Ballard will have more on that could be a positive sign.
If it is, it would be a huge sigh of relief for the Colts fan community.
MARLON MACK RUMORS FALSE
A rumor that was gaining a lot of traction over the last few weeks is that the Colts were actively working with Marlon Mack and his agent to sign an extension. Irsay flatly denied that there was any truth to those rumors.
Irsay says #Colts hope to get something done with Anthony Castonzo. Denies reports team is pursuing extension with Marlon Mack. Says Bobby Okereke is a future Pro Bowler.— George Bremer (@gmbremer) February 23, 2020
Mack is entering the final season of his rookie deal and just had the best season of his career. He fits in line with the type of player Chris Ballard likes to reward for positive play and production — similar to Kenny Moore. With that said, running back has become something of a commoditized position. It could make contract negotiations on an extension more complicated.
IRSAY BELIEVES INDIANAPOLIS CAN LOCKUP NFL COMBINE LONG-TERM
A topic that has started to generate more discussion recently is whether Indianapolis will remain the host for the NFL Combine. The league has made proactive attempts to move events around the country to give more fans a chance to be close to the action. The NFL Draft is making rounds to different areas of the country and new stadiums are getting built at reasonably short intervals.
Despite rumors that the Combine could be next on the list of events that will move to a new location, Irsay expressed some confidence and addressed some of the rumors.
Irsay on keeping the NFL combine in Indy: "I see us locking it up longterm."— Jim Ayello (@jimayello) February 23, 2020
Combine is locked in through 2021, and then there are options for the NFL to keep it here through 2025. Irsay's push is to keep it in Indy.— Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAErickson) February 23, 2020
Irsay says the combine leaving Indy is "speculation. ... It probably won't happen, in my opinion."— Jim Ayello (@jimayello) February 23, 2020
Followed up on why he's optimistic about the future of the Combine in Indy and Irsay suggests the talk of Los Angeles (or elsewhere) is speculation. Interesting.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) February 23, 2020
Only time will tell on this but it is an event Indianapolis values. It bring in quite a bit of traffic to downtown restaurants and hotels and is growing in popularity as a prime time television attraction.
ADAM VINATIERI’S FUTURE
At the end of the press conference, Irsay entertained questions about where the franchise stands with Adam Vinatieri.
Irsay on whether Vinatieri has played his final game with the #Colts: “I don’t know.”— George Bremer (@gmbremer) February 23, 2020
Says the kicker is in rehab mode now.
Irsay on if Adam Vinatieri has played his final game with the #Colts:— Andrew Walker (@AWalkerColts) February 23, 2020
“I know he’s rehabbing that knee, and it’s something Chris and Frank will talk about and give their opinion to me."
Irsay: Adam Vinatieri. Last game as a Colt? I don't know. Rehabbing knee. Like to give 'my people' room to make mistakes. Adam knows how much I think of him.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) February 23, 2020
This is going to be another wait-and-see issue for the Colts to address this offseason. Few players have produced at Vinatieri’s level and even fewer for anywhere near how long as he has been one of the best in the game. He’s the team’s longest tenured players by a long shot and may have a longer leash than anyone else on the team.
One thing is certain, the Colts cannot afford to give away winnable games due to issues kicking routine field goals or extra point tries. The team will likely give him the time he needs to recover but has a limited time-frame to offer some kind of contract as he is currently slated to his free agency.