For weeks now, the Indianapolis Colts had been hinting at completing a historic extension for their quarterback Andrew Luck. On Wednesday it became a reality when Luck signed a six-year, $140 million contract with $87 million in guaranteed money. Luck is now the highest paid player in the NFL and is set to make $30M in 2016.
From Luck’s perspective, this is a dream situation as he’s set financially for life – allowing him to focus on his job – which is bringing championships to Indianapolis. In addition, his contract will run until he’s 32 meaning he’ll still be in his prime and able to get another sizable chunk of change from Indianapolis or from another team depending on how this contract turns out. No matter how you slice it Luck won this deal BIG TIME!
From the Colts’ standpoint, the contract extension may be a little skeptical. For the past two seasons, Luck’s numbers have been polar opposites. In 2014, Luck threw an NFL best 40 touchdowns and became the fourth player in NFL history to pass for 100 touchdowns in their first four seasons in the league. Those numbers were MVP-caliber and at the time you could see why Indianapolis invested so much into Luck.
However, the downside of the deal is the precariousness of Luck’s healthy. There’s a sense of wariness that 2015 might be a precursor to the future, as Luck suffered a shoulder injury as well as a lacerated kidney – causing him to miss the latter part of last year. The injuries were in large part due to the lack of protection from his offensive line where he was pressured on 32% of his drop-backs. No quarterback will come out unscathed if they’re constantly facing that much heat. But if Luck gets hurt again the Colts are royally screwed and last time I checked, there aren’t that many quality NFL backups in the league right now.
Also in football, there are two sides of the ball and the Colts’ defense hasn’t shown it can be sustainable in this league for quite some time. A franchise quarterback can only cover up so many holes and last season Indy’s defense wilted under pressure nearly every time. The numbers speak for themselves, on 36.6% of its opponents drives, the Colts allowed a touchdown – as they surrendered 408 total points last year (qualifying for the fifth worst in the league) and 6,066 total yards of offense (fourth most in NFL). Horrid performances like that isn’t going to cut it, no matter who is under center.
The final question that demands attention to Luck’s entire situation is what happens if they need to improve the defensive side or re-sign the play makers around Luck? Where is that money going to come from? As it doesn’t grow on trees and the quality of players are hard to find. The point of the matter is if Indianapolis doesn’t win financial flexibility this could become an issue, forcing them to part ways with important parts of their roster.
While Andrew Luck is a great NFL quarterback and deserves a big contract. The team overpaid and it’s confounding how the Colts can manage this type of success because of his possible financial burden.