Wells: Andrew Luck is a selling point for every aspect of the organization. You’re talking about a 25-year-old quarterback who is headed into just his fourth season. His first three seasons include three straight 11-win seasons, back-to-back AFC South division titles, three playoff appearances in which they moved a step further each season. Those are some pretty good selling points Luck can use.
@MikeWellsNFL Luck is a big selling point to FA on the O side. What is the draw for Defensive FA on that side of the ball? Suh, etc.— james murphy (@4thjames) January 30, 2015
Wells: Duron Carter hasn’t officially signed yet. It’ll happen, though. You're going to have to take the wait-and-see approach with Carter, though, as there’s no guarantee he’s going to come in and make an immediate impact. He put up impressive numbers in the Canadian Football League, totaling 75 receptions, more than 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns. But one league official said Carter’s still raw and will need time to develop. Carter might be asked to contribute quite a bit next season depending on what happens with Reggie Wayne and who the Colts add in the offseason.
@MikeWellsNFL Did D. carter officially sign a reserve/future contract?— Stephen Riggs (@IrishColt1) January 30, 2015
Wells: There’s no reason for the Colts to draft a center in the first or second round. They’re not throwing in the towel on Khaled Holmes or Jonotthan Harrison because they like both of those players. Holmes started the final five games of the seasons and will head into next season as the starter.
@MikeWellsNFL Should Colts pick top center in round one or two? Neither Holmes or Harrison are certain as a long-term answer.— Andrew mLuck (@AmLuck12) January 30, 2015
Wells: No. Jack Mewhort will be the Colts’ starting left guard for years to come. Thomas will be in the mix for the starting right guard position next season. The Colts used Hugh Thornton, Lance Louis, Joe Reitz and A.Q. Shipley there at different points throughout the season. The key for Thomas is to prove he can stay healthy. A torn bicep and torn quad ended Thomas’ 2013 season in Week 2, then Thomas re-tore his quad during training camp this season.
@MikeWellsNFL Will Donald Thomas be the starting LG next year? How old is he and will that quad ever be 100% ?— Gary Ottinger (@gottinger56) January 30, 2015
He’ll find out Saturday whether he’ll be part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2015.
Harrison’s one of the 18 Hall of Fame finalists.
Harrison was a finalist last year. Longtime Colts reporter Mike Chappell, who has covered the team since it moved to Indianapolis in 1984, will speak to the 46-member voting committee on Harrison’s behalf Saturday.
Harrison is third in NFL history in receptions, fifth in touchdown receptions and seventh in receiving yards. He had eight straight 1,000-yard seasons, went to the playoffs 10 times and won a Super Bowl in 2006.
The accolades don’t stop there for Harrison. He was named All-Pro three times, selected to eight Pro Bowls and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2000s.
“That was Marvin for you,” former Colts general manager Bill Polian said last year. “His unique ability at his size to get open and continue to play for as long as he played is witness to his phenomenal athletic ability, great hands and work habit. He’s [an] extremely, extremely gifted athlete. Far more than people realize because he’s made it look so easy. He was a clutch performer.”
The Colts terminated the final three years of Harrison's contract in February 2009 because he didn't want to take a pay cut.
Polian hopes to add Hall of Famer to his list of accomplishments next. He is a contributor finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2015. Former Colts coach Tony Dungy and receiver Marvin Harrison also are finalists for the Hall of Fame.
Polian helped put together three teams that became playoff squads. The Bills went to the Super Bowl three straight years from 1990-92 under Polian. The expansion Panthers reached the NFC Championship Game in 1996.
Polian was general manager of the Colts from 1998-2011, where he drafted quarterback Peyton Manning, receiver Reggie Wayne, running back Edgerrin James and defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
The Colts won eight division titles and went to the Super Bowl twice under Polian, winning it all in 2006. He was fired after Indianapolis went 2-14 in 2011.
Dungy, Harrison and former Colts general manager Bill Polian are Hall of Fame finalists for the class of 2015.
Dungy spent 32 years in the NFL as a player and coach, as which he learned a lot from former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll.
Dungy played for Noll in 1977-78, was his defensive backs coach from 198 to 1983 and was Pittsburgh's defensive coordinator from 1984 to 1988. He was defensive backs coach of the Kansas City Chiefs from 1989 to 1991 and defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings from 1992 to 1995.
Dungy got his first head-coaching opportunity with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1996 and stayed until 2001. He took over an Indianapolis team that had a franchise quarterback in Peyton Manning, Harrison, running back Edgerrin James and receiver Reggie Wayne. Dungy provided the leadership from the sideline.
The Colts won at least 10 games in all seven seasons under Dungy. They won five division titles during that same span and Dungy became the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl. Dungy led the Colts and Buccaneers to the playoffs in 11 of his 13 seasons coaching those teams.
Dungy is the Colts' winningest coach with a 92-33 record. He's 22nd in NFL history with a 148-79 overall record.
That was enough for coach Chuck Pagano. He replaced Cribbs with T.Y. Hilton on punt returns.
“There’s no doubt that he has struggled at times catching those punts, so just put T.Y. in there and just get the thing caught and that’s what we did,” Pagano said.
The Colts caught a break the week before against Denver in the divisional playoff game when Cribbs fumbled a punt after teammate Dewey McDonald was blocked into him. The play was reviewed and eventually reversed.
The Colts signed Cribbs with the hope of shortening the field for quarterback Andrew Luck. The player who was handling kicks before him, Griff Whalen, took the safe approach of fair catching the ball instead of risking a return in traffic. Whalen had 17 fair catches this season.
Cribbs, who has returned eight kickoffs and three punts back for touchdowns in his career, was the opposite. He rather return a punt in traffic or bring the ball out of the end zone nine yards deep on a kickoff than fair catch or take a knee. Cribbs, who only had eight fair catches, took a number of hard hits with that approach.
Cribbs, who is under contract for one more season, finished the season averaging 32.0 yards on kickoff returns and 6.6 yards on punt returns.
Episode No. 42 will review ESPN.com's recent joint venture with Pro Football Focus, which broke down how many "above-average" players each team is from contending for the Super Bowl.
The crew will also preview the Super Bowl matchup between the defending champion Seattle Seahawks and three-time winner New England Patriots as well as break down how the Pro Football Hall of Fame's upcoming class may shake out Saturday.
Host Paul Gutierrez (ESPN Nation's San Francisco 49ers reporter) and co-hosts Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) will be joined by Jeff Legwold (Denver Broncos reporter) and ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando, both of whom are among the Hall's 46 selectors.
The Colts were able to survive without much of a running game during the second half of the season, but things changed when they faced New England in the AFC Championship Game. The Patriots took the pass away and dared the Colts to run the ball.
Indianapolis doesn’t need to have the No. 1 rushing attack -- it would be nice, though -- in the NFL, but it needs something from its running backs to force the defense to be honest so that quarterback Andrew Luck has an easier opportunity to make things happen with his arm.
Stats: 90 carries, 425 yards, 2 TD, 3 fumbles, 2 fumbles lost
The good: Bradshaw was the Colts’ best running back each of the past two seasons. Bradshaw’s had a refuse-to-go-down mind frame when he had the ball. He averaged 2.11 yards after contact, which would have been enough for 11th in the league. Bradshaw was also a favorite target of Luck's out of the backfield. Bradshaw had 38 receptions for 300 yards and six touchdowns.
The bad: You can’t question Bradshaw’s ability to be productive. It’s his inability to stay healthy that continues to slow him down. A neck injury ended Bradshaw’s 2013 season and a fractured fibula against New England ended in his 2014 season. That’s why you can’t count on Bradshaw to be your No. 1 running back. He’ll be a free agent in the offseason, but he said he would like to return to the Colts because he knows they have the pieces to make a run in the playoffs.
Stats: 159 carries, 519 yards, 3 TD, 2 fumbles, 1 fumble lost
The good: Richardson was on his way to having his first 100-yard rushing game for the Colts when he ran for 77 yards through three quarters against Cincinnati on Oct. 19. But a hamstring injury ended any chance of that happening.
The bad: Where do I start? Richardson showed some life at the start of the season when he rushed for 79 yards in Week 2 against Philadelphia. Things quickly went downhill for Richardson after he suffered the hamstring injury. The Colts kept putting Richardson in the starting lineup until they finally threw their hands up and replaced him with Daniel “Boom” Herron in Week 16. Richardson also lost his starting position to Donald Brown late in the 2013 season. Richardson was inactive for the divisional playoff game at Denver and suspended for the AFC Championship Game at New England. The trade for Richardson in September 2013 has been a complete failure. The marriage between the Colts and Richardson is on its way to ending ugly between the two sides because Indianapolis will likely release him. The Colts have the option of terminating Richardson's contract without paying him his $3.1 million in guaranteed salary next season because of the suspension.
Stats: 78 carries, 351 yards, 1 TD, 2 fumble, 2 fumble lost
The good: Herron helped fill the void lost by Bradshaw by giving the Colts a back that has speed to break long runs and another option for Luck out of the backfield. Herron was easily more productive than Richardson once he moved into the backfield rotation. Herron also had 20 receptions in the three playoff games.
The bad: The inability to hold onto the football. Herron would be having a good game, but then he would fumble to make you forget about his solid play. He fumbled two more times in the playoffs, losing one of them. Herron isn’t a starting running back on a Super Bowl team, but he proved that he can be part of the backfield rotation as long as he holds on to the ball.
Stats: 10 carries, 18 yards
The good: Tipton spent the first 11 weeks of the season on the practice squad before being placed on the active roster following Bradshaw’s injury. He got his most extensive playing time in Week 17 against Tennessee when coach Chuck Pagano was holding a running back audition for the playoffs.
The bad: Experience. Tipton’s resume includes a total of 10 carries. You can expect him to at least be on the Colts’ practice squad next season.
The Broncos opened their offseason workouts last April with the idea they would be one of the two teams in Super Bowl XLIX, that they would be the AFC team working out of a snazzy resort hotel. They said it, stood up for it and lived with that thought for most of the season that unfolded.
“That was the goal all year long," said cornerback Chris Harris Jr. after his first Pro Bowl appearance earlier this week. “We didn’t step back from that. That was our goal; we believed we had that kind of team. We still believe we have that kind of team. We’ll take some time and come back to work. But when you’re here and see all the Super Bowl stuff, it’s right there in front of you, most anywhere you look you see something that has the Super Bowl on it with those Roman numerals, right there. Of course, you want that to be you, you want to be playing for the championship."
As the eight Broncos players went through the Pro Bowl practices last week, they were surrounded by communities doing a Super Bowl countdown, with Super Bowl banners hanging over calendars of Super Bowl events. They continue to be a part of things, as Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was on the autograph schedule at the NFL Experience Tuesday and Wednesday, and linebacker Von Miller was on the docket Wednesday.
That, too, is a Super Bowl phenomenon. For players good enough to draw a crowd in the Super Bowl mayhem, it is an odd existence. You’re at the Super Bowl, just not in the Super Bowl.
“You know you had a good season; you were in the playoffs and it’s hard to get in the playoffs," said Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who played in this past Sunday’s Pro Bowl. “But the goal was to get to where we wanted to go all season and that’s the Super Bowl … It’s why it’s a little different to play [the Pro Bowl] where the Super Bowl is. You see Super Bowl stuff everywhere, kind of reminds you a little every time."
The Broncos have continued to go about their business in the last week as Gary Kubiak fills out his coaching staff. But there may be no bigger crossing of paths between the Broncos and the Super Bowl than Friday when quarterback Peyton Manning is scheduled to be in Phoenix to accept the Bart Starr Award for his community work.
It will be Manning’s most public appearance since the Broncos’ Jan. 11 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Manning said following that game he was uncertain if he would return for the 2015 season.
Executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway met with Manning the day after the loss and told Manning to take several weeks to make his decision.
“It’s hard for the season to be over," said Miller, one of the other Pro Bowl Broncos. “All you can do is get ready to get back to work when it’s time. We wanted to be here for the other game, be in the last game. You’re going to remember that no matter how many banners we see here."
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis
Luck led the NFL with 40 touchdown passes and was third in passing yards (4,761). He had 11 games (including playoffs) in which he threw for at least 300 yards. He led the Colts to an upset of Denver in the divisional round and into the AFC Championship Game.
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, Houston
Gee, let’s see: 78 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 10 pass breakups, four forced fumbles, one safety, one interception (which he returned for a TD) and for good measure, three catches for 4 yards and three touchdowns. Watt has just as good of a case for league MVP honors as any other player.
Rookie of the Year: Avery Williamson, Tennessee
The fifth-round draft pick cracked the starting lineup in Week 5 and never left. He finished with 51 tackles (third on the team), four pass breakups, 3.0 sacks and was one of the Titans’ top defensive players.
Coach of the Year: Bill O’Brien, Houston
The Texans had a shaky quarterback situation and the No. 1 overall pick in the draft (Jadeveon Clowney) played in just four games, but O’Brien led the Texans to a 9-7 mark and kept them in the playoff hunt until the final week of the season. Remember, this team was 2-14 in 2013.
Stats: 380-of-616, 4,761 yards, 40 TDs, 16 INT, 27 sacks
The good: As expected, Luck continued to take the necessary steps to becoming one of the NFL's best quarterbacks. He led the league in passing touchdowns, was third in passing yards and seventh in passer ratings. Luck threw two more interceptions against New England in the AFC Championship Game, but his decision-making with the ball got better as the season progressed. He went from forcing the ball downfield to having no problem checking it down to the running backs underneath. Luck was 22-of-29 throwing to his running backs in the playoffs.
The bad: Turnovers. Luck had 22 of them -- 16 interceptions and six fumbles -- which was second to only Chicago's Jay Cutler. Luck often referred to them as "boneheaded" mistakes. Part of Luck's issue was he felt like he could make any throw or extend a player, similar to the way Brett Favre so often did. That ended up hurting Luck more times than not. Slow starts carried over to this season, too, for the Colts. Luck was part of that problem, as nine of his 16 interceptions and five of his six fumbles occurred in the first half of games.
Stats: 30-of-44, 301 yards, 2 TDs
The good: Hasselbeck obviously got limited snaps because he's Luck's backup, but his veteran leadership didn't go unnoticed. He joined coach Chuck Pagano, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and quarterback coach Clyde Christensen as an extra set of eyes and voice for Luck. "I lean on him every week," Luck said. "He is a huge part of helping me prepare, helping this offense prepare. He's a great sounding board for any player on our offense. He has the answer to just about every question. If he doesn't, he knows where to find it. He's incredibly helpful, and in sort of uncharted territory for some of the guys, he definitely helps with some of the things outside of the game that you may not anticipate or expect."
The bad: He's a free agent. Hasselbeck said last week he hasn't decided if he'll return for his 17th NFL season.
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that the Colts and Carter, the son of Hall-of-Fame receiver and ESPN analyst Cris Carter, are closing in on a deal.
The Colts have had their sights on Duron Carter for some time, as he worked out for the team back in December.
Carter spent time at Ohio State and Alabama before going undrafted in 2013. He had 75 receptions for 1,030 yards and seven touchdowns with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League last season.
The Colts’ receiver position is uncertain beyond T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief.
Wayne and Nicks are both about to be free agents. Wayne, who had his least productive season since 2002, said last week that he was going to take some time before deciding if he'll return for a 15th season. He finished with 64 receptions for 779 yards and two touchdowns last season.
“We’re not putting a thumb on anyone right now to give us a decision,” general manager Ryan Grigson said last week. “Those are big decisions. Those are decisions you sit and talk with your wife with and bring your kids into it. It’s tough. We need to, first before we make any decisions, know if they want to play.”
Nicks had a career low in receptions (38) and yards (405) last season, his first, with the Colts.
Carter had drawn interest from Minnesota, Carolina, Washington, San Francisco and Cleveland.
But the Colts have something those five other teams don’t have: Quarterback Andrew Luck.
The third-year quarterback is young and on his way to being one of the best in the league, which is enticing to free agents.
“I tell you, the Indianapolis Colts are an easy sell job these days, real easy,” Grigson said last week. “That’s the allure of free agency because guys do want to be here. They want to be a part of this. They want to be coached by Chuck Pagano. They want to have Andrew Luck throwing to them.”
Wide receiver Duron Carter is closing in on an agreement with the Indianapolis Colts, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Carter, the son of Hall of Famer and current ESPN analyst Cris Carter, played for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League last season.
It has been reported that Carter wasn't eligible to sign with an NFL team until Feb. 10, but the Indianapolis Star reported that the receiver has an agreement with the Alouettes that he will be released from his contract immediately if he signs an NFL contract.
The 6-foot-5 receiver was very productive in the CFL last season with 75 catches for 1,030 yards and seven touchdowns.
Carter might have had a more traditional path to the NFL if not for academic issues at Ohio State and Alabama. He went undrafted in 2013.
Information from ESPN.com's Pat McManamon and Ben Goessling is included in this report.
Based off the recent events recently you can expect the Colts to exercise that option.
Richardson, who has been a disappointment since being acquired by Indianapolis in September 2013, missed the walkthrough and suspended for two games for conduct detrimental to the team. The first game of the suspension was the AFC Championship. He’ll serve the second game next season if for some reason the Colts decide to keep him, which at this point is highly unlikely.
Of course that won’t be the end of things if the Colts cut Richardson as expected. You can expect the NFLPA to challenge the ruling.
Stay tuned. This could get ugly between the Colts and Richardson.