Saturday's Time with Colts Not Necessarily Over, Polian Says
INDIANAPOLIS – The future of Jeff Saturday is uncertain.
But Bill Polian, entering his 12th season as the Colts' President, said Sunday afternoon while that much about the three-time Pro Bowl center is certainly true, something else is true, too.
His time with the Colts isn't necessarily over.
Saturday, an 11-year veteran and the Colts' starting center since 2000, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on Friday, the start of the NFL's free agency period. Saturday's agent announced in an e-mail Saturday night that the center planned to test free agency.
But Polian said it doesn't mean the Colts won't continue trying to re-sign him.
"We haven't made any decision yet," Polian said Sunday during the NFL Scouting Combine, which will continue through Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.
"We're still talking. We made an offer and he's mulling it over. We'll see where that goes. It's very much an unfinished picture at this point."
Polian said he likes the Colts' longterm situation on the offensive line. The team drafted three players with collegiate center experience in the 2008 NFL Draft: Mike Pollack, Jamey Richard and Steve Justice. Pollack started at guard last season and Richard started five games in place of Saturday at center.
"Our situation is always the same," Polian said. "We always prefer to have our veteran players back. We're more than realistic in understanding that we can't. That's just the nature of the beast. We have been on top for a long time. The system is supposed to take its toll on you over that period of time. We've been fortunate that is has not. We recognize we're going to lose some veteran players that we would not want to lose.
"The club that we have coming back, specifically on the offensive line absent Jeff, we feel very good about. We had to play without Jeff for five games (because of two injuries) and did very well. We'd love to have him back and we'll do what we can to make that happen."
Polian also discussed several other issues during a half-hour session with media covering the combine. The topics included:
--- How optimistic he is the team can re-sign eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Marvin Harrison. "I don't want to characterize discussions in any other way other than to say we're having discussions," Polian said. "We're working on two fronts. On the one front, we are impacted by the salary cap for the first time in 11 years because of the new rules that come in this year as the last capped year. That is not something, quite honestly, that we planned for. So, we are impacted by that. As a result, that creates issues with any number of players. Marvin is one of them. Hopefully, we can find a way to work through that and we're trying to. I don't have any answers beyond that other than we're trying to work through it."
---The possibility of changing the NFL's overtime rule. The Colts lost to the San Diego Chargers, 23-17, in overtime in the first round of the playoffs this past season, about which Polian said, "I want to make that clear. I appreciate the opunity to discuss it. We should have won that game in regulation. The Chargers – great credit to them. They won the ballgame in overtime. They deserved it; we did not. But we had a chance to win it in regulation and did not. That's on us. Anything that happened after that is totally immaterial. It has no affect whatsoever on my thinking. My position is firmly that we should have won that game. All we needed to do was make four yards on two downs. We didn't do it." Of his specific stance on overtime, he added, "My personal concern is two-fold. No. 1, the people who created – who know a lot more about football than I – wanted to eliminate ties. They did. We've had one tie in five years, so it has worked. . . . Secondly, the players have expressed on numerous occasions that they're concerned about extra plays in overtime. We don't have 106 men like the colleges do. We don't play 12 games like the colleges do. We don't have two-week bye weeks like the colleges do, so it is difficult for us to play more plays. Players have made that clear and you have to respect that."
---Lucas Oil Stadium as a site for the combine. The combine is being held at Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time after previously being held at the RCA Dome. "Everyone to a man or lady has said how much they enjoyed it, and how interesting and how exciting the building is," Polian said. "I have not talked at any length to the people who operate the combine. That will come at a later time with the (NFL's) Competition Committee, but in preliminary discussions it seems everything has gone fine."
---The transition of Head Coach Jim Caldwell, who took over as the Colts' head coach after Tony Dungy's retirement in January. "It's everything we expected it to be," Polian said. "Jim has already put his mark on the daily operations, the way he wants things done, which is a little different than what Tony did. That's to be expected and understandable, but we have gone ahead without any interruption at all. I'm thrilled the coaches that left us (special teams coordinator Russ Purnell and defensive coordinator Ron Meeks) got jobs immediately (with Jacksonville and Carolina, respectively.) They're good coaches. We're glad they hooked up." Of Caldwell, Polian said, "He's taken a little bit different approach to the offseason program and perhaps the camp. We haven't solidified that yet. We're talking about it. He had some questions about what we did in the past. We're working our way through and we'll see if we can get them answered."
---The contract status of linebacker Freddy Keiaho. Polian said the Colts have not yet decided on a tender offer to Keiaho, who is scheduled to become a restricted free agent.
---The status of guard Ryan Lilja, who missed last season with a knee injury. "He remains with us," Polian said. "It's too early to tell. We won't know until the spring, I think."
---The status of cornerback Marlin Jackson (knee) and safety Bob Sanders (knee). Polian said he expects each player to begin training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. "There's no information as of last Thursday that there was anything on the horizon that was troublesome," Polian said.
---The status of running back Mike Hart (knee). Polian said it will be close as to whether Hart is ready for training camp or whether he also will be PUP.