But then Irsay offered an optimistic take on the talks.
“I would be surprised if we don’t have something done before training camp,” Irsay said on the Lucas Oil Stadium sideline as the Colts participated in an open minicamp workout.
The Colts report to training camp July 26 at Anderson University. Luck is expected to receive a contract that will make him the NFL’s highest-paid player, presumably in the $25-million-per-year range.
Irsay brought up the hot topic before being asked.
“I know you guys are going to want to know about Andrew’s contract,” he said. “It’s progressing well. We’ve had really good conversations. There is nothing new to report. Nothing imminent. I’m still hopeful that before training camp that we can get something done and I think both sides feel the sooner the better. Could it be done by the (July) 4th? It’s possible but I’m not going to make that prediction right now that I’ll be giving away.
“He came out (Monday) and said he liked my sunglasses. I said, ‘Do you want those too?’ (laughs). They were gold, these are regular sunglasses.”
The Colts are committed to locking up Luck, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, for the long term so they have a clearer picture of the team’s salary cap situation in future years. Luck counts $16.155 million against the cap for 2016, the final year of his contract.
If the team couldn’t reach a deal and was forced to use the franchise tag on Luck, he would count $25 million in 2017 and $35 million in 2018, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapaport. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco currently holds the distinction of the NFL’s highest-paid player at $22.13 million per season.
Irsay assured the situation shouldn’t come down to needing to use the franchise tag.
“Anyway, really good conversations,” the owner said. “Obviously his uncle, Will (Wilson), is a lawyer and has represented him from the beginning. So we have a great relationship and I see something getting done. It’s not easy, it’s obviously going to be a big number and we want to make sure the contract is something that is Colts-friendly as we approach even the next decade.”
Irsay was asked about if both sides have exhibited flexibility at the bargaining table.
“No question,” he said. “I think there has been a really good element of compromise. Both sides, look we went into it knowing that this is going to be a big contract, a big deal and all those things. We didn’t hide any cards that way and so I think there has been compromise on both sides. I really do. I would be surprised if we don’t have something done before training camp.”
He was then asked if there have been any sticking points in the talks.
“I wouldn’t say that,” he said. “I think that in the end, you guys know what it’s about. It comes down to the debates in the negotiations of years, total number, total guarantees and all those sorts of things and obviously how it relates to the cap. I haven’t seen anything that has just been a problem that is going to hold it up. I see progress being made.”
Irsay refuted a Rapaport report, citing unnamed sources, that the Colts wanted to give Luck a 10-year contract.
“We didn’t get down that lane, no,” Irsay said. “That wouldn’t be accurate. I think that would be a reach and it would be hard to predict that far down the tracks. We weren’t aiming in that direction and they didn’t volunteer to.”
He laughed after completing the sentence, which suggested he wouldn’t mind a longer-term deal.
Luck, who turns 27 in September, is coming off the first serious injuries of his career. He missed nine games with several issues, most seriously a lacerated kidney. The Colts suffered as a result by finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011 with an offense that ranked in the bottom third of the league.
The franchise quarterback, regarded as one of the NFL’s best young players, has expressed the modest hope a new deal would get done, but has repeatedly said it’s not something he thinks too much about. That’s probably because he knows at some point he’s going to get paid.
On Tuesday, Luck told NFL Media’s Kimberly Jones, “When it's the right time, it will get done. I honestly don't spend much time worrying about it.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.