Indianapolis expects Luck to be ready for offseason work
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Andrew Luck could be getting healthy and wealthy at the same time.
General manager Ryan Grigson said Thursday the Colts' franchise quarterback should be ready to participate in offseason workouts after missing the final six games last season with a lacerated kidney and a partially torn abdominal muscle.
''He's doing great, his rehab is coming along well,'' coach Chuck Pagano added at the NFL's annual scouting combine in Indianapolis. ''His kidney is clear and he's doing well. He's in a good place.''
This is a critical offseason for Luck and the Colts, who missed the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Luck endured the worst season of his pro career. After opening with 54 consecutive starts, including the playoffs, he missed nine games in 2015, finished with the lowest completion percentage since his rookie season (55.3), and threw 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
But even after all those struggles, team owner Jim Irsay is prepared to pay Luck like he's one of the league's best quarterbacks.
Irsay has already said he will pay a ''shocking'' number to lock up his cornerstone player for the foreseeable and has indicated the deal start at $20 million per year. Luck's rookie contract expires after next season, and the sides are already working on an extension.
''Both sides, obviously, are motivated and Will (Wilson) is a reasonable guy,'' Grigson said, referring to Luck's agent. ''We want Andrew here and I don't anticipate any problems, but I can't put a timetable on it right now. It will happen soon enough.''
That's part of a busy offseason that began with the re-signing of Pagano, the three-year extension given to Grigson, and a staff shake-up that included the departure of defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton was fired in November and replaced by Rob Chudzinski, who will retain that title in 2016.
Now comes the harder part - putting the right pieces in place.
As the Colts prepare for April's draft, Grigson is still trying to re-sign free agents despite the tight salary-cap constraints he's dealing with.
Potential free agents backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, Pro Bowl kicker Adam Vinatieri, linebacker Jerrell Freeman, cornerback Greg Toler and the Colts' two top tight ends, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.
Indy could free up additional money by releasing high-priced veterans such as receiver Andre Johnson and outside linebacker Trent Cole, who did not meet expectations last season.
Grigson wouldn't say what his plans are for any specific players.
''You try to re-sign all of your guys first and if you don't, you can go out and see what's out there,'' he said.
But after spending most of last season dealing with reports of a rift between Pagano and Grigson, they now appear to working off the same playbook. Both want to make the defense a top priority - and both know keeping Luck healthy will be the key to their success.
''Obviously, we've got to protect our quarterback better, and there are a lot of ways to do that,'' Grigson said. ''Obviously the bulk of our winning has been from our superb quarterback play. So yeah, that's the common sense approach. But I also have a defensive coach and he wants to build the defense.''
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL