Vinatieri and Indy: A Matchmaker's Dream
If all goes well, it'll be less likely that Colts fans will have to watch their postseason hopes sail wide right again in 2006.
ESPN.com is reporting that that former New England kicker Adam Vinatieri has agreed in principle to a contract that would bring his free agency tour to an end in Indianapolis. As ESPN so succinctly put it, "The most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history is about to be replaced by one of the most clutch placement specialists in the game."
That reference is music to Colts fans ears across the country. After watching former Indianapolis kicker Mike Vanderjagt botch a critical field goal attempt against the Steelers this past season, the Colts would now have a kicker who made the winning field goal in two out of three Super Bowl wins for the Patriots.
And for a kicker who is used to playing in bad weather and swirling winds, can you imagine what he'll be like playing at least half of his games in a dome?
The 33-year old kicker has made 263 of 321 field goal attempts (81.9%) and 367 of 374 extra point tries (98.1%) in 160 games over his ten-year career -- in New England -- and also while visiting other cold region outdoor locales like Buffalo and New Jersey every year.
Vinatieri's acquisition would allow the Colts to move forward with just one kicker on the roster after years of carrying two -- Vanderjagt for field goals and a variety of kickers to handle kickoffs. Last year Vinatieri averaged 62.4 yards per kickoff. He has a career average of 62.9 yards. And are you ready for this? Vinatieri kicked 12.7 percent of his kickoffs (10 of 79) into the endzone for touchbacks. His career average is 7.6 percent.
Although the former Patriots rival visited the Packers, and was rumored to be drawing interest earlier in free agency from Dallas, the Colts offer may have grabbed his attention on a few fronts, no matter what kind of money he was seeking. He leaves one playoff caliber team and would join another. But perhaps most importantly, he moves indoors for half of his games. And at least two more games annually should be in warm weather with Jacksonville and Houston perpetually on the Colts calendar. That's got to be attractive to a 33-year old kicker who only got to attempt one field goal in dome conditions during the entire 2005 season.
And yes, he made it. He also only got to attempt a total of two field goals on turf rather than grass. He nailed both opportunities.
Last year while kicking outdoors, he missed both of his 50-plus yard attempts, and two out of six attempts from 40-49 yards. Perhaps that was a signal to him that it was time to consistently put himself in more kicker-friendly conditions than he's battled over the past ten years.
So there may be more to Vinatieri signing than simply money, although it's expected that he'll get a multi-year deal with a signing bonus of $3.5 million according to ESPN's report. That's a much lower signing bonus than some of the speculative numbers that were being tossed around in the media over the past week. So unless the Colts gave him huge salaries to boot, they may have gotten a relative bargain.
Until the deal is finalized, which could happen as early as Tuesday evening, Colts fans will be holding their breath with great expectations while Patriots fans will be cursing under their breath at the thought of Vinatieri wearing the horseshoe.
And if the deal does go through, Patriots fans will get to view that sight up close and personal this fall when the Colts visit the Patriots in a regular season matchup.
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