On the eve of free agency, NFL insiders are reporting running back Frank Gore has changed his mind and is reconsidering his next team.
He was supposed to be headed to Philadelphia, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted Monday night Gore was having second thoughts about joining the Eagles. Gore had reportedly agreed to a three-year, $15-million deal including $7.5 million guaranteed over the first two years with the NFC East team.
If the latest “cold feet” reports are accurate, why would Gore change his mind? Here are 10 possible explanations for preferring the Colts:
1. Quarterbacks — The Colts have Andrew Luck, a Pro Bowl selection in each of his three seasons, and the NFL’s No. 1 passing offense (305.9 yards per game). The Eagles have reportedly agreed on a new two-year deal with Mark Sanchez and are rumored to be interested in trading up to draft Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Who would you choose? Yeah, Luck. Gore realizes a strong passing game creates running lanes. He said in early January he was curious about the possibility of playing with Luck.
2. More money? — Non-stop media overload has reported contract specifics, but nothing is final until after 4 p.m. Tuesday. Maybe Colts general manager Ryan Grigson saw what the Eagles were going to pay and raised the ante for a five-time Pro Bowl selection with 11,073 career rushing yards?
3. Life with Chip — Running back LeSean McCoy didn’t see eye-to-eye with Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who has earned the reputation for putting players through strenuous practices and, according to McCoy, doesn't care for strong-minded personalities. McCoy was traded to Buffalo for a former Oregon linebacker coming off a serious knee injury (Kelly used to coach at Oregon). Wide receiver DeSean Jackson had the best season of his career in 2013, but was released. Last season’s leading receiver, Jeremy Maclin, was not retained and reportedly has a deal with Kansas City. Perhaps Gore saw how these star players had been treated and decided Philly wasn’t such a good fit.
4. Coaching connection — Gore played his college ball at the University of Miami from 2001 to 2004. Colts associate head coach Rob Chudzinski was a Hurricanes assistant coach from 1994 to 2003, including Gore’s offensive coordinator for three years. Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was also a Miami assistant coach from 1995 to 2000, just before Gore arrived.
5. Better team — While the Eagles defeated the Colts last regular season, an argument could be made that Indianapolis is closer to reaching the Super Bowl than Philadelphia. The Colts reached the AFC title game in January — albeit a 45-7 loss at New England — while the Eagles failed to make the playoffs. The Colts have progressed in each of the last three 11-win regular seasons, reaching the playoffs, advancing to the AFC Divisional round and then the AFC title game. Gore turns 32 in May and playing for a Super Bowl contender was a priority. It makes sense he would choose the team he thinks gives him the best shot at a ring.
6. Reunited with Andre Johnson? — The Houston Texans released the seven-time Pro Bowl star Monday. He and Gore played together at Miami from 2000 to 2002. The Colts are rumored to be interested in Johnson, especially after Friday’s announcement that wide receiver Reggie Wayne would not be re-signed. If Gore and Johnson get to talking, they might like the idea of joining forces on a playoff team. What isn’t yet known is how much the Colts would have to spend to get Johnson, the Texans’ all-time leading receiver.
7. Missing link — Since the beginning of free agency, Gore has not been shy about expressing interest in the Colts. He is quoted as saying as early as before the Colts-Denver Broncos AFC Divisional playoff game in January that he was keeping an eye on the Colts and thought he could be the missing link to the offense. The Colts ranked 22nd in rushing offense at 100.8 yards per game. He could play all three downs and the Colts would be sure to spell him as needed with Dan Herron or Vick Ballard, or someone else, to keep Gore fresh. Colts general manager Ryan Grigson might also convince the running back the Colts finally will have a strong O-line, an ongoing top priority for three years.
8. Players’ pitch — According to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Gore is reaching out to Colts players to inquire about the organization. Cornerback Vontae Davis is the brother of 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. If Gore hears from Davis as well as other Colts that Indy provides an ideal work environment, such testimonies would likely resonate.
9. Indoors or outdoors — Gore can play half of his games inside the comfortable confines of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis as opposed to dealing with the bitter December and January cold of Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. That might not seem like a big deal, but Gore is an older back with aches and pains and has been playing football in the California sun for a decade. Indy’s climate-controlled home might just help keep the spring in his step throughout the season.
10. Markets — Not to get too carried away with city comparisons, but Eagles fans are some of the most demanding in the NFL. They’ve booed Santa Claus. Indianapolis fandom has grown dramatically since quarterback Peyton Manning arrived in 1998, but Colts fans don’t have the reputation of being so surly. Also, Indy’s media market isn’t considered as hard-edged as Philly’s. Some consider the Colts’ media market somewhat soft.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.