INDIANAPOLIS — He has the rings, he has all the records, he has the spot in Canton locked up.
Adam Vinatieri has everything.
So after completing his 23rd NFL season in 2018, one in which he became the National Football League’s all-time leader in points scored and made field goals, it would’ve been understandable if Vinatieri decided to hang up his cleats, send in his jacket size to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and then spend the rest of his days perched in a tree stand at his ranch in Missouri.
But there Vinatieri was at the Indianapolis Colts’ facility Monday morning, putting pen to paper on a new contract that ensures his return to the team for the 2019 season.
Vinatieri told reporters Jan. 13 that he was going to take a little bit of time to make that decision, but, thanks in large part to what is clearly brewing in Indianapolis, it didn’t take long at all for him to make up his mind.
“We talked a week ago and they said, ‘What do you need for time?’” Vinatieri told Colts.com’s Matt Taylor on Monday, shortly after signing his new contract. “I said, ‘I’m good; let’s go.’ So I got it done and it went pretty quick, so very, very happy to have it behind me, and time to get back to work.”
Vinatieri had yet another solid season in 2018, his 13th with the Colts. He connected on 23-of-27 field goals (85.2 percent), including 4-of-6 from 50 yards or further, and also made 44-of-47 extra-point attempts (93.6 percent).
But the season would be extra special for Vinatieri, who topped Hall of Famer Morten Andersen to become the NFL’s all-time career leader in both field goals made (Week 4) and points scored (Week 8).
Individual accolades aside, however, Vinatieri has always had a team-first approach. And in 2018, the Colts proved a lot of league prognosticators wrong by finishing with a 10-6 record and advancing to the postseason for the first time since the 2014 season. There, Indianapolis went on the road and defeated the Houston Texans in the Wild Card Round before falling to the Kansas City Chiefs the following week in the Divisional Round.
The Colts accomplished all this with a first-year head coach in Frank Reich, who had one of the youngest rosters in the league. And even after a 1-5 start to the season, Vinatieri saw how the locker room stayed strong, which led to the team reeling off wins in nine of its next 10 games to punch its ticket to the playoffs.
Vinatieri took all of that into account when making his decision to return in 2019.
“I mean, this locker room is awesome. It’s a lot of fun being in this building,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys that work their butts off, and it’s just fun, you know? This year, the second half of the season when we started running the table and all that good stuff that was going on and fighting our way back into the playoffs, that’s one of those things that — that’s what you play football for. And this locker room, we say it all the time, but it’s a special group of guys that unselfishly work their butts off to try to have an opportunity to win games."
“So I don’t know if it’s the same — I doubt it’s the same — everywhere,” Vinatieri continued. “I think we’ve got a really special group of guys, and definitely wanted to be a part of it.”
Colts general manager Chris Ballard said the decision to bring Vinatieri back for yet another season certainly wasn’t a difficult one.
“Adam is not only one of the greatest Colts in team history, but one of the greatest players in NFL history,” Ballard said Monday in a team statement. “He is an ideal representative for our organization, the Indianapolis community and Colts fans everywhere. We value Adam’s reliability and feel he will continue to kick at a high level. In addition to his performance on the field, he brings a tremendous amount of leadership to our locker room. He sets the standard for what it means to be a professional and how to properly prepare, especially for our younger players. We’re privileged to watch him continue his iconic career for another season.”