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Offseason Notebook

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Offseason notebook: Colts focused on NFL Draft, quarterbacks on roster; Michael Pittman Jr. on contract extension

Here's what we learned from Colts head coach Shane Steichen as well as wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and linebacker Zaire Franklin on Wednesday during the first week of the 2023 offseason program. 

Three notable things we heard on Wednesday during the first week of the Colts' 2023 offseason program:

The quote: "We're focused on the draft, and I'm gonna focus on the guys that are in the building right now. That's where we're at." - Colts head coach Shane Steichen

Context: With about two weeks until the NFL Draft, the Colts are honed in on evaluating this year's group of draft-eligible quarterbacks while working with Gardner Minshew and Sam Ehlinger in the nascent stages of the offseason program – and not focused on bringing in a veteran free agent quarterback. Two other notable quotes here, first on the importance of Minshew, who was with Steichen in Philadelphia the last two seasons:

"It's huge," Steichen said. "Any time you got a guy that knows the system, knows the terminology, you can kind of hit the ground running with him. So excited to add Gardner to the fold and he'll be good for us."

And on the process of figuring out the if, when and who of the quarterback question in the 2023 NFL Draft:

"Just turning over every stone," Steichen said. "Don't leave any stone unturned because you want to find out as much information as you can on all these prospects and go through that process. And that means calling as many people as you can to find out that information. That's what you got to do. And then going back and watching the tape over and over again, because there's not a crystal ball to like hey, this guy is a guarantee. But you want to do your due diligence and process to try to find the best players."


The quote: "I wouldn't say it's a goal. I think that happens naturally with performance. And if it doesn't happen this year, that's no big deal. I mean, it'll happen eventually. I just kind of let that business side — just leave that to my agent." - Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. on a possible contract extension

Context: Pittman's rookie contract is up after the 2023 season (same for running back Jonathan Taylor), but he's not focused on if he'll be offered an extension some time in the coming months. The Colts previously have agreed to extensions with guys in Pittman's position during training camp or before the season – in 2021, Shaquille Leonard, Braden Smith and Nyheim Hines all signed extensions before the season began. Pittman over the last two seasons has 187 receptions for 2,007 yards with 10 touchdowns.

"I don't want anything to do with those (negotiations)," Pittman said. "I just want to play."


The quote: "There was never any talks about me being traded or me being released. It's the offseason. People like to make headlines and clickbait, that kind of stuff. I though it was funny. I saw one of the rumors — I woke up one morning had I had two different guys from different teams text me, and they were like 'Hey man, is it true?' (One) was like, 'Well you can come over here and play with me.' I was like, 'Man, what's going on right now?'"  - Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner 

Context: There was no truth to a runaway Twitter rumor earlier this year, which falsely stated that Buckner wanted out of Indianapolis. Buckner fired off this tweet after seeing it:

Buckner after the season had a "great" conversation with general manager Chris Ballard, reinforcing his trust in the direction the Colts are taking into the future. His first interactions with Steichen have been positive, too, starting with Monday's team meeting to kick off the 2023 offseason program.

"I thought the first team meeting was great," Buckner said. "Just the energy that Shane came with – giving some background on himself and really establishing some team rules and obviously the culture and everything that he wants to build around here. It's exciting. It's a great fresh start."

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