One word you could use to describe those inside the Indianapolis Colts organization: excited.
Thursday, Irsay gave his thoughts on the Wentz trade as well as the Colts' offseason.
Here are some of the quick hits.
The Colts hope to have a full stadium, training camp in 2021: The COVID-19 pandemic affected the NFL in numerous ways, but one of the biggest was that many stadiums around the NFL operated with zero fans in the stands or only a fraction of the capacity. Training camps were also closed off to fans.
The Colts were able to operate safely on gamedays with several thousand in attendance, but not at fall capacity. Irsay hopes that changes in 2021.
We’re hoping to have full fans in September for the games, full attendance. That’s our hope. I don’t have anything official on training camp yet. We’d like to think we’re going to hold a normal training camp, we don’t know.
Carson Wentz is the type of QB situation Irsay wanted: When Irsay spoke after the 2020 season ended, he mentioned it might be best if the Colts find a veteran quarterback who can hit the ground running and pick up where former starter Philip Rivers left off before his retirement.
With Wentz being an established vet going into his sixth season, it's the type of move Irsay wanted.
I tell you, I believe that circumstances put this situation together which is ideal for the Indianapolis Colts. There are a lot of things that make this situation for the trade for Carson really special. I really feel that it’s a rare long-term answer that you’re able to achieve through a trade. It doesn’t happen very much. There are short-term answers that have been achieved through trades. Of course, there are long-term answers – Brett Favre, others that came in through a trade that set the tone for many years to come with franchises. But I really feel that with Carson coming in, he’s a veteran but he’s a young veteran.
The excitement in the building in talking to Frank Reich, I wish you guys could hear his voice and the things we’ve talked about to this point because I really don’t see a lot of weaknesses in Carson’s game, in his leadership, and everything he brings to the table. I think they are all strengths, all a main reason that he was a second pick in the draft, a main reason that he was really close to having that incredible year of being an MVP and Super Bowl champion. The injury came in and those things happen but he’s healthy and he’s very excited to be here and we’re excited to have him.
On T.Y. Hilton's free agency situation: One of the Colts' most-accomplished wide receivers in franchise history, T.Y. Hilton, is currently a free agent, but a deal has yet to be struck for him to return. Irsay was asked if it's possible he stills returns.
I think no question. I think looking where the cap is at this point being reduced and how teams throughout the league – some have cap problems and have had to work hard just to get down to the cap. I think it’s an environment where we see guys signing for different amounts and I think there is going to be an opportunity for us to get something done with T.Y..
I know I really would love to see T.Y. back. He is a special, special Colt player. Whenever we can see a guy like that to come and play with Carson (Wentz), to have our fans be able to embrace him for another year because he is really one of the most loved Colts players on the football field, period. We’d love to have him back and we are going to work hard to have him back, but it has to fit in the context of the roster, which makes the most sense to make us the best football team possible.
I know Chris (Ballard) is working hard on that and we have optimism there that that can happen.
How the current cap and future extensions affect the free-agent approach: There has been a lot of debate lately among fans on Twitter about whether or not the Colts' inactivity in free agency is due to upcoming contract extensions for star players.
We’re looking every way possible with the cap limitations because the number is down because of the COVID situation where the losses are spread out over three years and the cap sees that effect.
We’re dealing with the most prudent way of looking at that because it’s not this year, next year and the year after – to make sure we’re in a really good position. I think Chris Ballard has done an outstanding job in keeping us in a strong position. We also know there are key players on this football team that will be getting extensions and that’s something that we have to plan for as well.
There's a good chance offensive tackle is addressed in the draft: Now several days into the NFL's free agency process, the Colts have not yet addressed their left tackle vacancy. Irsay was asked if it's something that should be done through the draft.
I think we could go a couple of different directions. I think that ideally in the draft, that would be a direction that would be ideal. We have seen that process work through Tarik Glenn and Anthony Castonzo and we’ve been blessed there to have that sort of consistency and great play at that position. It’s not the easiest position to fill.
I remember sitting with Howard Mudd right before we took Tony Ugoh and we thought that would be a good match for us. It didn’t work out as well as we hoped it would. There is always that transition process of college to pro, but it would be excellent if we could get one I think in the draft that we could see there for a long period of time to come as our left tackle.
Are the Colts heading into a "Golden Era?": Irsay was asked about comparing Colts general manager Chris Ballard now to former general manager Bill Polian, who built the winningest roster in a single decade for the 2000s.
There is no question of the confidence and optimism that Irsay holds while having Ballard as general manager and Reich as head coach. So much so that he feels there may be a "golden era" of Colts football approaching.
As a franchise, you really feel blessed because I do feel Chris is on that track. I really do and I feel Frank Reich is on that track. I really believe that you will see a golden era develop as we go into this decade sitting here in 2021. I believe it with all my heart and soul. There is good reason to believe it.
You talk to people around the league and people that know, they are going to agree with what I’m saying when they look at Chris Ballard and Frank Reich and the expectations going into this decade that we have for both of them leading the team.
We said everything changes every year, that is the painful thing about what happened when the season ended in Buffalo because I loved that team and everyone knew as soon as the season ended, that team would never be again.
That’s the reason Frank and Chris are like (John) Lennon and (Paul) McCartney. It’s like, ‘Okay what’s the new album this year? Well we need help at quarterback, so ‘Help’ was the last album – come on in, Philip Rivers, but maybe this album is, ‘Let it be.’ We know Andrew (Luck) is retired and here comes Carson Wentz.’
They are always responsible for crafting this new football team and so many changes even when you don’t want it to. It takes a lot of effort and talent in an organization to get back on to that football field. You need those football players with toughness, with leadership, with team in mind, and that locker room mentality because that serves you well when you have to endure a certain percentage of change each year whether it’s 60 or 70 percent of only keeping what you had the year before.
Ever the optimist, there is a lot to look forward to when it comes to Colts football according to the head honcho.