On Friday, Indianapolis signed kicker Shane Andrus. It's not his first offseason with the Indianapolis Colts for Andrus, a Murray State product.
After going undrafted in the 2006 NFL draft, Andrus was signed by the Colts as a free agent. However, they had a man on their roster that had just signed a big free agent contract and looked to be to kicker of the present and the foreseeable future in Adam Vinatieri. As a result, Andrus was released by Indianapolis before the start of the 2006 season and looked around for a home while the Colts were on their way to winning Super Bowl XLI.
In February 2007, he was again signed by the Colts, but this time he was allocated to the now-defunct NFL Europa and played for the Hamburg Sea Devils, who won World Bowl XV. During the 2007 season, he once again looked for another team to sign on with after being released by the Colts after training camp closed, and eventually signed on a future contract with the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.
Andrus kicks during a preseason game in 2007
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
If nothing else, it's safe to say that good luck follows Andrus wherever he goes and that he is accustomed to playing in a winning environment. Having made some big kicks during the course of the regular season and postseason in NFL Europa, as well as knowing that he could be signed to the active rosters of Indianapolis or New York should anything have happened to Vinatieri or Lawrence Tynes during those two postseasons, he knew that he could be asked to kick a game-winning field goal under the brightest lights imaginable; and he no doubt prepared himself mentally for that eventuality.
Tony Dungy described Andrus as a, "professional" and someone that is "good enough to kick in the league, no question about it," during this press conference in August 2007. Judging by his track record and skills — he has plenty of leg and has been accurate in preseason games — and his ability to make big kicks in big games, even if they were in Europe, there is no doubt that he is good enough to kick in the NFL.
The question, though, remains: Is he good enough to kick for the Indianapolis Colts? And, perhaps the more relevant question: Is he a better option than Vinatieri?
Obviously, the answer to both of those questions in 2006 and 2007 was no and no. The 2008 season, however, could be a new era for Andrus.
Vinatieri struggled in 2007, converting only 79 percent of his opportunities, missing his first field goal ever in the RCA Dome, and failing to convert a kick from 40 yards or more the entire regular season.
As a result of the big contract he signed in the 2006 offseason, Vinatieri has a considerably higher cap number than Andrus would if he were signed to the 53-man roster. If Andrus has a strong offseason and kicks well in the pre-season, the Colts may have a difficult decision on their hands.
But, the fact remains that, if nothing else, history is against Andrus. While he may have made some important kicks in Europe, Vinatieri has won three Super Bowls with his right leg, is still considered the one of the best clutch kickers of all time, and was a key player in the 2006 postseason run, accounting for all 15 points in the victory over the Ravens in the Divisional Round.
During the 2008 season, Andrus will probably once again be looking for a new home. The good news for gamblers is that he will probably eventually sign on with the winner of Super Bowl XLIII. The bad news for Andrus is that he will probably have to wait until 2009 to get another shot at Vinatieri's job. By that point, he will be 28 years old.
Yet, there is still hope, as Dungy pointed out in the press conference above: "Many, many guys have gone through that process. I was with Nick Lowry in Kansas City and talking with him, he said that it was his 13th or 14th team that he finally ended up making, and he ended up being a Hall of Fame-type kicker. So it happens. And those guys just have to keep plugging until the right team comes along."
Scout.com's Ed Thompson chatted with Andrus during the 2006 offseason. Subscribers can read the transcript of that interview here.