Tagged in: Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts, Darius Leonard agree to 5-year, $98.5M extension that makes him top-paid ILB

The Indianapolis Colts and linebacker Darius Leonard have agreed to an extension, the team revealed Sunday.

Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter it is a five-year, $98.5 million extension that will make Leonard the highest-paid inside linebacker in NFL history.

Leonard passes San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner, who signed his new deal at the outset of training camp that made him the NFL’s highest-paid inside linebacker at the time.

“I’m a competitor. If you’re not first, you’re last,” Leonard said of besting Warner’s deal. “To have my name at the top, that’s something I don’t take for granted. I have to continue to go out and prove that. You’ve seen the [linebacker] rankings; I think I was sixth, I was No. 8 on Madden.”

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Leonard joins offensive tackle Braden Smith as the two players the Colts have locked up to long-term extensions during training camp.

Leonard stated he hopes to make his training camp debut this week after offseason ankle surgery.

The 26-year-old Leonard was a first-team All-Pro for the second time in 2020, when he had 132 tackles, three sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries while helping the Colts return to the playoffs after a one-year absence. He was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2018, when he led the NFL with 163 tackles and also recorded seven sacks.

A second-round draft selection in 2018, Leonard has 416 tackles in three seasons and also has 15 career sacks and seven interceptions. “We all know Darius, that chip has served him well,” coach Frank Reich said.

“Whatever level of disrespect he felt from all that, he’s used that as a motivator in [his] own way, but what I’ve learned to appreciate about Darius is he’s going to be motivated no matter what to be the very best. He’s going to hold himself to those standards.”

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Kicker Adam Vinatieri, NFL’s all-time leading scorer, retiring after 24 seasons

Kicker Adam Vinatieri, the NFL’s all-time scoring leader, revealed Wednesday on “The Pat McAfee Show” that he is retiring after 24 seasons.

“By Friday, if paperwork goes in, you heard it here first,” Vinatieri told McAfee, his friend and former teammate with the Indianapolis Colts.

Vinatieri, 48, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a first-team All-Pro pick three times, scored 2,673 points and made a record 599 field goals for the New England Patriots and Indianapolis, where he played his final 14 seasons.

He made 29 game-winning kicks in his career, with three of them coming with the Patriots from 1996 to 2005. He made a game winner in blizzard-like conditions versus Oakland in the 2001 AFC playoffs and made game-winning field goals in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII. No kicker has more Super Bowl rings than Vinatieri’s four — three with the Patriots and one with the Colts.

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“Adam Vinatieri is the greatest kicker of all-time who made the greatest kick of all-time in the 2001 divisional playoffs,” Pats head coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. “His consistency, mental toughness and performance under pressure was legendary. I am honored to have coached Adam, going all the way back to his rookie year in 1996 and through some of the most special moments in Patriots and league history. Adam is in the rarest of echelon of athletes whose career accomplishments may never be matched.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who played with Vinatieri from 2000-05, took to Instagram to salute Vinatieri, writing, “When you look up clutch in the dictionary it should have your picture. An incredible teammate with an incredible work ethic. Honored to have played with the (GOAT).”

Vinatieri was part of 242 regular-season victories, and he broke career records for field goal attempts (715) while becoming the third-oldest player to appear in an NFL game. He scored points in 47 different stadiums, too. Vinatieri played in six AFC Championship Games, five Super Bowls and a record 397 matches including the playoffs. He also was selected to the NFL’s 100th anniversary team.

His 21 100-point seasons shattered the previous mark of 16.

He made a league-record 10 game-winning kicks in overtime. He holds the league mark for consecutive field goals (44), and nobody has been better in the postseason, in which he was 56 of 69 on field goal attempts and has 238 points, all records.

Vinatieri also played in 365 regular-season games, second behind Morten Andersen (382), and is the only player in league history to top the 1,000-point mark with two different franchises.

Vinatieri also managed to chase down Herschel Walker with a textbook, touchdown-saving tackle in 1996. Vinatieri didn’t play last season after a disappointing 2019 season.

He was placed on injured reserve in December 2019 after a season-long knee injury that started in training camp. The Colts stuck with Vinatieri even though he made a career-low 68% of his field goal attempts that season.

He missed a total of 14 kicks: eight field goals and six extra points, and two of his misses cost the team victories versus the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers. He also had three kicks blocked in 2019, including one that was returned 63 yards for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in Week 13.

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CB Pierre Desir, Seattle Seahawks reach 1-year deal

Free-agent cornerback Pierre Desir has agreed to a deal with the Seattle Seahawks, according to his agency.

EnterSports Management tweeted Wednesday that the deal is for one year.

Desir, who is 30, has started 44 matches over seven NFL seasons. The Seahawks are familiar with Desir, who has the size and length (6-1, 192 pounds) that coach Pete Carroll prefers in outside cornerbacks.

Desir spent part of the 2016 season on their practice squad and was with Seattle the next offseason before being waived during roster cutdowns.

He landed with the Indianapolis Colts, who gave him a three-year, $22.5 million extension in March 2019 but released him a year later.

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The New York Jets then signed Desir to a one-year, $4 million deal with the expectation that he would be their No. 1 cornerback, but they released him in November after benching him twice. He concluded the season with the Baltimore Ravens.

Desir had three interceptions — including a pick-six — in nine games for the Jets.

He has eight career interceptions and 42 passes defended in 73 games since entering the league as a fourth-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2014 out of Division II Lindenwood.

The Seahawks signed former San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon last month after losing Shaquill Griffin in free agency. They also lost Quinton Dunbar after attempting to re-sign him. Seattle’s other options at outside cornerback include D.J. Reed, Tre Flowers and Damarious Randall.

The Seahawks re-signed Randall earlier this month and stated they plan to move him from safety to cornerback, where he played earlier in his career.

Desir is a two-time nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, given annually to a player who exhibits leadership on the field and in the community.

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Philadelphia Eagles trade QB Carson Wentz to Indianapolis Colts for two draft picks

The Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to trade quarterback Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2021 third-round draft pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick that could turn into a first-rounder, league sources told ESPN.

The Eagles will get the 85th overall pick in this year’s draft, and the conditional second-rounder can become a first-round pick based on Wentz’s playing time, according to sources.

Wentz needs to play at least 75% of the Colts’ offensive snaps for the 2022 conditional pick to convey to a first-rounder, according to sources. The pick also could become a first-rounder if Wentz plays at least 70% of the snaps and the Colts reach the playoffs. But the worst the 2022 pick can be is a second-rounder, meaning the Eagles are assured of netting two value picks for Wentz.

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The Eagles and Colts spent much of the past two weeks trying to conclude the trade, which cannot be officially processed until the new NFL year starts March 17.

Despite being speculated as a potential suitor for Wentz in trade talks, the Chicago Bears did not wind up making an offer to the Eagles, according to a source.

The Eagles will take a $33.8 million dead-cap hit — the largest dead-cap hit that any team ever has taken for a player — while the Colts will assume the balance of Wentz’s $128 million extension, including the $10 million guaranteed roster bonus due March 19.

Each team walks away from the deal with what it wanted across all fronts: Wentz will be reunited with Colts head coach Frank Reich, his former offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, and help fill the void left by Philip Rivers’ retirement, while the Eagles are likely to turn to Jalen Hurts, though they also intend to bring in competition for him.

The Eagles’ starting job is not expected to automatically go to Hurts.

Trading Wentz marks the end of an unexpected chapter and year with the Eagles. Wentz went from a former MVP candidate to backing up Hurts — a rookie second-round pick in 2020 — while his relationship with former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson disintegrated.

Wentz wanted out of Philadelphia even though the Eagles hired former Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni as their new head coach.

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Philadelphia Eagles hiring Nick Sirianni as head coach

The Eagles are hiring Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni as their next head coach, executive vice president Howie Roseman told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio on Thursday.

Sirianni, 39, had a long interview for the head-coaching job that began Tuesday and reportedly spilled over to the next day.

There was a sense in league circles that the race had narrowed to two candidates — New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Sirianni, who has been the Colts’ coordinator for three campaigns.

Philadelphia ended up hiring the less-heralded name but one that continued to gain steam inside the Eagles organization the more it called around about him.

The Eagles’ coaching search was done with the quarterback situation — Carson Wentz, in particular — in mind. After firing Doug Pederson, whose relationship with Wentz had soured, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said: “It behooves us as a team with a new coach, a new coaching staff, to be able to really get [Wentz] back to that elite progression.”

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Wentz, whose struggles in 2020 were described as “very fixable” by Lurie, was benched for the final quarter of the season after consistently poor play. Rookie Jalen Hurts replaced him in the lineup and provided a spark to the offense but cooled some down the stretch.

Wentz had a near-MVP campaign in 2017 when current Colts coach Frank Reich was his offensive coordinator in Philadelphia.

Sirianni was Reich’s right-hand man in Indianapolis and was the quarterbacks coach when Reich was the Chargers offensive coordinator in 2014 and ’15. The connection could hold significance for Wentz, who has a great deal of trust in Reich.

Wentz had been expected to request a trade this offseason because his relationship with Pederson was fractured beyond repair, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

Both Hurts and Wentz are under contract with the Eagles for 2021.

Despite a rotating cast at quarterback with Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett and Philip Rivers, Indianapolis fielded a top-10 offense in two of the past three seasons. Rivers completed 68% of his passes this season for 4,169 yards with 24 touchdowns to 11 interceptions in 2020.

The Colts (11-5) concluded ninth in the NFL in scoring (28.2 PPG) and 10th in yards per game (378.1) in 2020.

Sirianni has worked as a quarterbacks coach and receivers coach since coming into the league with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009.

The Eagles held a broad search after firing Super Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson on Jan. 11. They interviewed Arthur Smith, Robert Saleh, Jerod Mayo, Joe Brady, Kellen Moore, Duce Staley, Todd Bowles, Dennis Allen, McDaniels and Sirianni. They also had a request in to speak with Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, sources said, but there was an agreement to wait until after Sunday’s AFC Championship Game for a potential interview.

Pederson was fired after going 4-11-1 in his fifth season with the team. He went 46-39-1 and obtained the Lombardi trophy during the 2017 season — the first of three consecutive playoff appearances for the Eagles under Pederson.

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Chuck Pagano to retire, while Chicago Bears likely to retain Matt Nagy, Ryan Pace

Chicago Bears defensive coordinator and former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has decided to retire, league sources told ESPN, confirming multiple reports.

The Bears are likely to keep head coach Matt Nagy and general manger Ryan Pace, sources said.

Pagano, 60, spent just two seasons in Chicago after a six-year run as head coach of the Colts. He was hired by the Bears on Jan. 11, 2019, to replace decorated defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who left to become head coach of the Denver Broncos.

In Pagano’s first season, the Bears’ defense lead the NFC in points permitted per game (18.6) and ranked second in the conference in net yards per game (324.1).

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Chicago’s defense again appeared to be the club’s strength in the early parts of the 2020 season, but the group’s performance leveled off as the year wore on. Chicago ended the regular season 15th in run defense and 11th versus the pass as the Bears (8-9) backed into the playoffs in Week 17.

Chicago was eliminated from the postseason by the New Orleans Saints in a 21-9 loss Sunday in the Superdome.

In six seasons as head coach of the Colts, Pagano went 53-43 in the regular season and 3-3 in the playoffs.

The fates of Nagy and Pace had been unclear after the Bears lost eight of 11 to end the year and concluded 1-7 versus playoff teams in 2020.

Nagy — named NFL Coach of the Year in 2018 — has guided the Bears to two postseason berths in the past three years. Pace just completed his sixth year as Chicago’s general manager.

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Minnesota Vikings sign LB Todd Davis to fill void after Anthony Barr, Troy Dye injuries

The Minnesota Vikings signed veteran linebacker Todd Davis on Thursday after losing linebacker Anthony Barr to injury in their Week 2 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Barr, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, was placed on injured reserve earlier this week after he tore his pectoral muscle in the second quarter of the Vikings’ 28-11 loss to the Colts in Week 2.

Barr is estimated to miss the remainder of the campaign. Fourth-round rookie Troy Dye substituted Barr on Sunday before suffering an ankle injury.

The injuries to both Barr and Dye led to Ryan Connelly making his debut two weeks after being claimed by Minnesota.

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Dye was placed on injured reserve Thursday in a corresponding move.

Davis has been a tackling machine over the course of his career. In 2019, the Sacramento State product had 134 tackles for the Broncos.

It’s unlikely that Davis sees many snaps this weekend since he just signed with Minnesota. That means the pressure could be on rookie linebacker Troy Dye to fill in at strongside linebacker.

Davis was released by the Denver Broncos earlier this month after five seasons with the team. He missed most of training camp with a calf injury.

Davis, 28, started at least 14 matches for the Broncos in each of the past four seasons. He played in 82 games for Denver since the team claimed him off of waivers in November 2014.

He had become a productive player for the Broncos as he played in all 16 games on a 2015 team that went on to gain Super Bowl 50. He then had at least 97 tackles in three of the past four seasons, and he topped 100 tackles in both 2018 (114) and 2019 (134).

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Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

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Date: Thursday, Oct. 8
Time: 8:25 p.m. ET
Venue: NRG Stadium

The Indianapolis Colts will travel to Texas for a Week 5 clash with the Houston Texans on Thursday night at NRG Stadium.

Though the Colts (2-2) stumbled out of the gates and dropped their first two games of the season, they’ve rebounded by winning two straight to surge to the top of the AFC South. However, quarterback Andrew Luck has been listed as questionable for Thursday’s game due to a shoulder injury.

Currently the Texans are averaging 50.25 pass attempts per game and completing 52.7 percent; the NFL team average for those stats are 35.5 attempts per game and a completion percentage of 64.2.

Not surprisingly after seeing the last two stats, the Texans also sit near the bottom of the league, in 29th place, for team quarterback rating.

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The Texans come into Thursday night wounded from a game in Atlanta, a 48-21 drubbing by the Falcons, and it was even worse than the final score indicates: it was 42-0 at one point. They’re 1-3 on the season, with their lone victory coming against the Buccaneersin Week 3. They’ve flipped their QB from Brian Hoyer to Ryan Mallett back to Hoyer mid-game last week, and Mallett will start his fourth straight game Thursday night. It’ll be the 4th straight game against the Texans where they’ll see a different QB (Case KeenumRyan FitzpatrickTom Savage), so the carousel that is the Houston signal caller has been going on for a while now.

Playing on the road on a Thursday night has become a Colts tradition over the years, as this will be the 13th game the Colts have played on a Thursday, and the 11th on the road since 2001, and one of those home games was the opening game of the 2007 season when they smoked the Saints after winning the Super Bowl. Now, the Colts have only lose once in those games (Week 1 2004 in NE), but it’s still a little ridiculous the Colts have been forced way more than any other team to go on the road. For instance, the Rams haven’t played a Thursday road game since 1998! Yes it’s only been 4 home games (5 this season), but that’s something the schedule makers should be advised of by the Colts this offseason.

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Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts

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in their final matches in the preseason, the Cincinnati Bengals meet the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in the National Football League.

The match is on September 3, 2015 at 7:00 PM ET.

The matchup will mark the 24th all-time meeting between the teams in the preseason, with the Bengals holding a 15-8 advantage. It will mark the 15th consecutive season that the two teams have squared off in the preseason.

Because this is Week 4 of the preseason, we rarely see teams play their starters in this game, so don’t expect to see guys like Andy DaltonAndrew LuckA.J. GreenT.Y. HiltonGeno Atkins, or Vontae Davis play. Losing any of the aforementioned guys to a silly injury this week would be devastating with the regular season opening next week.

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That doesn’t mean, however, that this game is of no important. Every NFL team must have their final 53-man rosters set by 4 p.m. EST on Saturday. Because this game is played Thursday night, that gives coaches and front-office personnel a full day to evaluate this game and use it to help determine which guys should make up those final 10-12 spots on each roster.

Cincinnati had a fairly decent preseason and even if they lose their final game against the Colts, they will end up with a .500 record. However, already at 2-1, expect them to try and end their exhibition games on a high.

Meanwhile, the Colts are 1-2 and are also trying to get a big win at home to give the crowd a lot to cheer for heading into the regular season.

The Bengals were victorious in the previous game week as they faced the Chicago Bears. AJ McCarron had an excellent game as he went for 12-17 for 149 yards and completed one touchdown.

Meanwhile, the Colts picked up their first win of the preseason when they beat the St. Louis Rams 24-14. Prior to the win, the Colts lost to the Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Colts went on an early lead, going up 10-0 after the first quarter but found themselves behind 14-13 at the end of three periods.

They were able to recollect themselves and score 11 points in the final frame, with their defence holding up and preventing the Rams to score as they went on to win.

Tyler Varga had six rushes for 16 yards and also converted one touchdown.

 

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