Chris Ballard signed kicker Chase McLaughlin to a one-year contract last month.
But apparently, that is not the case.
The NFL's all-time leading scorer, Adam Vinatieri, was in the Colts' facility after the season, rehabbing after knee surgery. The 47-year-old has not ruled out a 25th season + likely wants to return. Colts will wait to make a decision until Vinatieri is further along in rehab.
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) March 31, 2020
The 24-year veteran has not ruled out a 25th NFL season.
Although he is an unrestricted free agent, Vinatieri used the Colts facilities to rehab from a knee injury.
And when asked about it, Frank Reich told reporters no decision had been made yet.
“(We plan) to have a sitdown with Adam and see where he’s at once he’s a little further along in that process,” Reich said.
That probably means Vinatieri is still not kicking a football since his 2019 knee surgery.
The 14-year member of the Colts landed on injured reserve with his left knee injury in Week 13.
Many thought that spelled the end of the longest-tenured NFL player´s career.
But no retirement announcement came out as Vinatieri prepared for another NFL season.
Who´s Call Is It?
Adam Vinatieri is the NFL´s All-Time leading scorer.
In an era of free agency, he has only known two NFL homes.
Where were you when Adam Vinatieri made this kick? pic.twitter.com/nHuBiSqjfI
— The Hall presented by Raytheon (@TheHall) March 25, 2020
After ten years with the New England Patriots, Vinatieri landed with the Colts.
He went to Super Bowls with both teams.
Colts owner Jim Irsay says Vinatieri is like a son to him.
Players like that often get to write their own exit strategy.
Unless they stick around too long.
Colts K Adam Vinatieri, the NFL's all-time leading scorer and a four-time Super Bowl Champion, turns 47 today. When Vinatieri made his NFL debut on September 1, 1996, 23 of the 32 first round picks from the 2019 draft were not even born yet.
Happy birthday to a legend.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) December 28, 2019
No one can blame Vinatieri for wanting to round out his years of service at 25.
But even before his injury, there were indications 24 years might have been one too long.
Ballard signed Vinatieri´s replacement after he proved serviceable over the final month.
But Indianapolis was McLaughlin´s third team in 2019 for a reason.
McLaughlin Versus Vinatieri 2019
It is never a good sign for a kicker when the headlines center around him.
Especially when he hasn´t made any notable kicks lately.
Vinatieri struggled out of the gate last season.
Adam Vinatieri hasn't looked like himself in 2019:
– 5 missed FG (more than all of 2018)
– 70.5 FG % (career-low)
– On pace for 10 missed FG (would be career-high) pic.twitter.com/fzE1gPaiB1
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) November 3, 2019
When the team was winning more games than not, Reich could downplay Vinatieri´s effort.
But things were near a snapping point when Viantieri´s knee settled the issue.
When his season ended, the Colts kicker already missed 6 extra points and 8 field goals.
It was the second-worst field goal percentage of his storied career.
Vinatieri couldn´t kick his way out of his slump.
How's this for a stat: Since 1989, a kicker has missed 10 kicks in the first 8 games of a season three times:
2019 Adam Vinatieri
2018 Caleb Sturgis
1996 Adam Vinatieri
Sturgis was cut after 6 games, Vinatieri got another 23 years.https://t.co/BYTB8gVYAL
— Nat Newell (@NatJNewell) November 4, 2019
Chase McLaughlin settled things down, hitting 5 of 6 field-goal attempts.
He also nailed all 11 extra points over the final four weeks to finish his season 26-for-26.
Overall, McLaughlin hit on 78% of his field-goal attempts (18-23).
But all five misses were between 40-49 yards.
Reich might find it easier to make decisions on fourth down with a consistent number like that.
But a professional NFL kicker should provide dependability from beyond 23 yards out.
The Favorite Is:
Adam Vinatieri will land in the NFL Hall of Fame soon after he retires.
He will enter the prestigious institution wearing a Colts uniform.
That allows him more leeway than most when it comes to deciding his career path.
But the Colts can´t afford to give away games out of loyalty.
— 247Sports (@247Sports) January 14, 2019
Missed extra points and field goals add up.
As much as we want to root for the veteran, he returns off a subpar season with questions about his knee.
But if he shows he can plant and kick without issue, he can win a 25th go-round.
Sometimes an injury forces a player to re-examine his form.
Vinatieri could emerge from his rehab stronger and more accurate than ever.
McLaughlin is accurate but needs to work on distance.
There have been kickers who faded quickly by trying to bulk up or kick further.
Unless Vinatieri decides he can not get into shape in time, the Colts have a competition at kicker.
And the longest-tenured Colt has the inside leg.