INDIANAPOLIS – The biggest piece of the puzzle has been secured.
Andrew Luck, the cornerstone of everything the Colts are building, signed a six-year contract on Wednesday afternoon.
With Luck officially locked up, the Colts have the conductor of their offense in place for a budding future on that side of the ball.
Over the past 12 months, the Colts have signed five key offensive pieces to deals through at least the next four seasons.
Here's a look at the future of the Colts' offense now under long-term deals:
- QB-Andrew Luck (Signed new deal in June 2016, through the 2021 season):The franchise quarterback won't even sniff his first NFL free agency. Neither party ever anticipated contract talks lingering into Training Camp. The Colts now have Luck signed through his 10th NFL season. Luck, who will turn 27 years old in September, will be 32 when this new deal expires.
- C-Ryan Kelly (Signed rookie deal May 2016, through the 2019 season, with a one-year option for 2020):This is the lone non-extension of the quintet. Kelly, 23, was the first-round pick of the Colts this year and will be snapping to Andrew Luck for at least the next handful of years. Like all first-round picks, Kelly has a fifth-year option on his rookie deal. The Colts can exercise that option come 2019.
- TE-Dwayne Allen (Signed new deal in March 2016, through the 2019 season):Back during the spring, the Colts made the decision to go with Allen as the tight end of their future. The 26-year-old Allen has the makeup of a multipurpose tight end that the Colts desire in their offense. Allen, a former third-round pick, is one of three 2012 draftees on this list.
- OT-Anthony Castonzo (Signed new deal in September 2015, through the 2019 season):Just before the start of the 2015 regular season, the Colts extended their left tackle. Castonzo, 27, was a first-round pick of the Colts back in 2011. He has been a linchpin for the Colts, missing just three games in the past four seasons.
- WR-T.Y. Hilton (Signed new deal in August 2015, through the 2020 season):The first domino of this bunch also happens to be the fastest. A third-round pick in 2012, Hilton inked an extension during last year's Training Camp. Hilton, 26, has shown he can more than handle the attention that comes with being a No. 1 wide receiver.
Down the road, guard Jack Mewhort and wide receiver Donte Moncrief (both signed through 2017) are the most likely names to join this group. Also, wide receiver Jacoby Brissett is under contract through 2018, with a fifth-year rookie option for 2019.
On Wednesday, Jim Irsay touched on this very subject:
"I'm excited obviously. Obviously we lost Coby (Fleener), we lost (Jerrell) Freeman as the inside linebacker, but beyond that, we really like Sio Moore, we really like (Antonio) Morrison (and) some of our young guys. We really feel with those three receivers being fast and healthy that (Donte) Moncrief, (Phillip) Dorsett and T.Y. (Hilton) in particular – who's really looking to have a huge year – we love where we are. We love the offensive linemen. I think you cannot underestimate how much Ryan Kelly means to the franchise, because I can tell you that he puts Andrew in a different state of mind. Andrew has not had that type of center in front of him that he can depend on for the next decade or more. We were fortunate to have him there to pick in the first round and couldn't be more excited about that pick, including the additional offensive linemen – the other three that we picked up. We really like Denzelle Good. He's a guy that's just got to keep his weight in line, but he is a guy that can play guard and tackle well in this league, we feel. Obviously we extended (Anthony) Castonzo and T.Y. (Hilton) quietly before last season, which was very important. We really like where our team is. We know we have some age with the edge rushers and we know we couldn't address it all in one draft, but we really do like overall where we are going defensively, and definitely offensively we feel like we're going to have the best offensive line, not only in depth but in frontline talent that we've had in Andrew's now going into his fifth year. We do feel that (Frank) Gore has to be managed, but he has another year. We do like some of the backs we've added. We think guys like Josh Ferguson have a chance to be special, time will tell. But we really like where we're going. (It was) really important that we retained, like I said, Dwayne Allen, (Anthony) Castonzo and T.Y. (Hilton), that those guys are important pillars for our organization. So we really like where we're going. We like our secondary. We think we have a lot of young talent in the secondary, and, so again, time will tell. Again, when we look at our Denver game and see the way that we played, we want to kind of leap frog off of that with our new draft picks and Andrew getting healthy. But we're excited about the year, including everything about the way the offseason has gone has been a big plus. You can't underestimate how important it's been to get this deal done quietly and successfully. We feel continuity at the top with Chuck (Pagano) and with Ryan (Grigson) and at the same time we think we have an outstanding coaching staff that we have retooled. So we've made the changes we need to, and we know our division is a lot better, but we really do like our chances, and we're trying to be a team that's going to keep getting better as the decade gets older and closer to 2020. So it was great getting this deal done in the timely way we did, and really looking forward to the season, obviously."