Indianapolis Colts Owner & CEO Jim Irsay spoke to the media during Wednesday’s public mini-camp practice at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Here’s the entire interview:
“Excited to be back in Lucas Oil Stadium – 2016 is here. What a schedule. Obviously, opening with the Hall of Fame Game and obviously going to London as well. Get to open at home which is a great thing for us. We’re just excited. We love the draft class. Talked to those guys yesterday and told them how much we’re depending on them to make an impact right away. We’ve had significant changes in this coaching staff. Obviously continuity with Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano being extended and being here but it’s rare that you see two coordinators changed. Obviously, ‘Chud' (Rob Chudzinski) had some of 2015 to get ready for this year but he couldn’t implement a lot of his things. A defensive coordinator and an offensive coordinator that is new. Obviously, offensive line coach, which is a wheel house, key position for us and we’re excited to have Joe Philbin. We couldn’t be more excited. I know you guys are going to want to know about Andrew Luck's contract. 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 yesterday and said he liked my sunglasses, I said, ‘Do you want those too?’ (laughs). They were gold, these are regular sunglasses. Anyway, really good conversations. 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.”
How much flexibility is there on both sides? Has there been an atmosphere of flexibility from both sides?
“No question. 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.”
Have there been any impediments or obstacles that are sort of a sticking point at this point?
“I wouldn’t say that. 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.”
You guys didn’t have the splash this offseason that you had last year. What did you think of this offseason as far as trying to get the roster to where you guys wanted it?
“I feel really excited. Obviously we talked about can we get everything done and the answer was no in terms of adding every single young player at all positions on offense and defense. We had some needs, I think we really filled some of the needs, you just don’t know until pads come on. But obviously offensive line, strengthened majorly. We like definitely some of the defensive core players that we’ve added. Obviously we’re looking for Henry Anderson to come back and he’s been progressing from that injury. It may not be for Week 1, but we certainly hope it’s going to be early season. He was a big loss for us last year as you guys know. Again, I see us – you guys have looked at the roster and saw the team that beat Denver at home here and was able to put up virtually 30 points and that sort of thing. I see the same group coming back with some better young core players to help us, I really do.”
I believe there was a report or suggestion that you approached the subject of a 10-year contract with Andrew Luck. Can you speak to that?
“We didn’t get down that lane, no. 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.”
Are you confident that Arthur Jones will be ready when the time comes?
“I am. I know Art is working hard. He’s a warrior. He knows that he is disappointed and feels like he has something to prove. Obviously we made a big investment in him and we know that he has the talent and he still has age on his side and sometimes when these injuries come you just have to really have positive thinking and feel like that will not happen again and I’m ready to go. And I think that we feel hopeful, obviously Art and Henry Anderson would be big components to what we are trying to do and we hope that he’s able to go. I know that he’s doing everything he can to get ready.”
It has been a quiet offseason where as last year you were the talk of the league. Do you prefer the quietness?
“It’s always exciting when we give our fans something to get excited about so obviously free agency can be enjoyable in terms of creating preseason excitement, but I think that we feel and knew where we were cap-wise going into this year that it was mainly going to be through the draft. We also feel like we did add some guys that could help us and we were also happy to have eight draft picks total, add those extra picks that we got. Again, I think there was big splash last year obviously but I think that everyone knows that we kind of feel like if we can play like we did against Denver and even better that with some young players we’re going to be a heck of a franchise to compete with. We know our division is a lot better, it’s going to be tough but we’re up for the challenge. We have continuity which is great, with Ryan and Chuck, and Andrew is feeling great. We’re excited, we really are.”
Did you see Andrew Luck slide tonight? You probably liked seeing that, right?
“Always good to see him slide, you know. I think that, look as he’s got to make plays, I know quarterbacks like him that are athletic and those things, you want to see him try to make the plays with his feet when you can, however sometimes you do have to shut it down and just say second-and-10. He knows staying on the field is critical for him having really a Hall-of-Fame and great career that he is just aiming and desiring to have. I know he went to Stanford, he’s smart. I think we’ll see him get down maybe a few more times this year.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.