When Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay spoke to reporters after his team had lost 45-7 in January’s AFC Championship Game at New England, he was asked about a report that talks had begun on a new contract for quarterback Andrew Luck.
Irsay quickly dismissed the speculation and said it wasn’t among his top priorities.
In his trip to Phoenix for the NFL Annual Meeting, Irsay reiterated Monday that Luck has two years remaining on his contract. Next season is the final year of his rookie deal, but it’s a matter of time before the team exercises a fifth-year option.
Luck has led the Colts to the playoffs and made the Pro Bowl in each of his three seasons. And he’s coming off his best season.
Irsay wouldn’t comment on any conversations with Luck’s agent, but gave every indication the matter would be addressed next offseason.
“Andrew still has two years left, and whatever our talks are between Andrew and his people will remain confidential,” Irsay said in quotes reported by ESPN.com’s Mike Wells. “... I really think most likely the scenario is going into the offseason next year is when that second contract will come up. That's the vision I have right now.”
The reality is, after the Colts spent millions recently in free agency, they don’t have enough money now to extend Luck’s contract. He will count a little more than $7 million against the salary cap in 2015, which ranks 19th for his position.
If Luck is rewarded with one of the NFL’s richest contracts, as is to be expected, consider that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is No. 1 with a $27.7 million salary cap hit next season. The Colts are about $8.4 million under the cap.
They also have other contracts to address after next season. Offensive left tackle Anthony Castonzo and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton are entering the final years of their deals, as are tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.
“We have key players that we really want to retain over the next two years — obviously, Andrew, T.Y. Hilton, (Anthony) Castonzo, both tight ends,” Irsay said in quotes shared on the team’s Web site, colts.com. “So we have to be prudent in how we go about it.”
Castonzo has been the team’s best offensive lineman since his first-round selection in 2011. If he’s to be paid among the top 10 at his position, that’s going to cost about $10 million per year, give or take $1-2 million.
Hilton has become the team’s No. 1 wide receiver since being selected in the third round in 2012. If he’s to be paid among the top at his position, that’s going to cost between $10-11 million per season.
That Irsay mentioned the tight ends suggests the Colts would like to keep both Allen and Fleener, who count about $1.7 million each this season.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.