We have yet to see a $200 million contract in NFL history. That could change fairly soon as the Indianapolis Colts are going to make Andrew Luck a very rich man. Luck is also the +375 5Dimes favorite to lead the NFL in passing in 2015. Is it a smart bet?
Luck Will Cash In Soon
One of the most recent quarterbacks to get a big extension was Miami's Ryan Tannehill, who got a six-year, $96 million deal with $45 million guaranteed. Tannehill was of course the No. 8 pick in the 2012. The Indianapolis Colts took Luck in a no-brainer move first overall that year -- he was considered by some the greatest NFL prospect to enter the league since John Elway, and so far those experts are looking accurate. If Tannehill is worth $96 million, Luck is worth at least double.
Luck broke most of Peyton Manning's rookie records in '12, throwing for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns as the Colts went 11-5 a year after going 2-14, the season Manning missed due to neck surgery. In 2013, another 11-win season for Indy that included a division title, Luck threw for 3,822 yards and 23 touchdowns again, with his rating rising nearly 11 points to 87.0.
Last season, the Colts were 11-5 again and division winners. Luck was a monster, throwing for 4,761 yards and 40 touchdowns, a rating of 96.5. Luck finished third behind the Saints' Drew Brees and Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger in yardage and led the league in TD throws by one over Manning. Luck was actually on pace to break Manning's NFL record of 5,477 passing yards for a while there. Through nine games, Luck had 3,085 yards, which was on a pace for 5,484. Starting with 370 yards in Week 3 in Jacksonville, Luck had eight straight games with at least 300 yards. That ended one shy of Brees' league record when Luck had 253 in a Week 11 win over the Jaguars. He tailed off at the end of the year with 187 yards in Week 15 against Houston, 109 in Week 16 against Dallas and 160 in Week 17 against the Titans. To be fair, the Colts rested Luck some in those final two games as they had nothing to play for.
Luck has recorded the most passing yards, the second-most passing touchdowns and tied for the second-most regular-season wins through a quarterback's first three seasons in league history. As for that contract extension, we have been hearing for months that the Colts are going to give Luck the richest contract in league history, but it now doesn't seem like either side is in a huge hurry. The team has decided to push back talks to next summer for whatever reason. It certainly helps Indy's cap situation. In 2015 Luck will still be playing under his rookie salary of $3.4 million. In 2016, he'll make a little over $16 million on a his fifth-year rookie option. The Colts do have a history of making their quarterbacks play out their entire contract and doing it this way gives them some protection if Luck suffers a major injury. The Colts have made it clear they have no intention of allowing Luck to enter the 2016 season without an extension.
Colts Run More In 2015?
The Colts led the NFL in passing attempts in 2015 with 661. Obviously the more attempts Luck might get, the better chance of leading the NFL in passing yards. However, I do think Indy will pass just a bit less this season. The team has lost receiver Reggie Wayne, a likely Hall of Famer, but has replaced him with another likely future Hall of Famer and also a former Miami Hurricane in Andre Johnson. Slight upgrade there I suppose. Indy also took Miami receiver Philip Dorsett with its first-round draft pick. So this team isn't going to become the Seattle Seahawks or anything.
But the Colts seem to finally have a No. 1 running back as they signed former 49er Frank Gore (another former Hurricane) this offseason. The Colts weren't a great rushing team in 2014, averaging 113.4 yards per game behind the likes of Trent Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw and Daniel Herron. Those former two are gone and Gore will be an upgrade there.
Obviously working in Luck's favor is playing at home in a dome (plus games at domes in Houston and Atlanta). Luck is likely to have only one cold-weather game where throwing might be affected: Week 13 at Pittsburgh.
NFL Free Pick: I think Luck should be favored on the NFL odds at 5Dimes right now, but I always hold off on these types of props to make sure teams make it through camp with no key injuries. Like if Luck lost No. 1 receiver T.Y. Hilton, that would affect this outlook.