Luck signed a six-year, $140 million deal with the Colts, Irsay announced in his second job as NFL Media Insider. A source informed of the deal told our insider Ian Rapoport that the new contract includes $47 million fully guaranteed and will average $23.3 million per season.
The news is not a surprise, but the timing of it shows the extreme faith the Colts have in Luck. He's coming off a down 2015 season plagued by injuries. Luck admitted he was playing poorly even before a shoulder injury forced him to miss two early starts. A lacerated kidney ended his season after Week 9.
The Colts smartly took the long view. Irsay told reporters that "we didn't go there" when considering Luck's poor 2015 campaign. Franchise quarterbacks are the most valuable commodity in sports and we'd argue they are all undervalued because of the salary cap. To put it another way: would you rather have one Andrew Luck or two Ryan Kerrigans? The Colts placed more importance on the first three extraordinary seasons of Luck's career far more than last season, as they should. Luck was sixth in the NFL in passing yards from 2012-2014. Irsay knows how incredibly fortunate the Colts were to replace Peyton Manning with another potential top-shelf quarterback.
"This is an exciting day for the organization and Colts fans around the globe," Irsay said in a statement. "Andrew is the consummate professional, possesses extraordinary talent and is our leader on and off the field. When you consider what this team has accomplished in four seasons with Andrew under center, you cannot help but be thrilled about the future."
The Colts made the playoffs in Luck's first three seasons with 11-5 records, advancing further in the postseason each year. Luck's postseason efforts encapsulated his career in many ways. He combined a lot of jaw-dropping big plays with occasional recklessness. The Colts' defense ultimately let him down, giving up more than 40 points in three of the games.
Luck has promised to be more careful with his body in 2016, with a plan to slide more often when he runs out of the pocket. In so many ways, Luck's early career is reminiscent of Cam Newton, the man taken No. 1 overall the year before him. The two players both have incredible (and similar) physical traits. They create "wow" plays that didn't exist a generation ago with their arms and legs. Both players can be streaky with accuracy and can occasionally trust their brilliant ability to escape pressure too much.
The difference is that Luck piled up big passing numbers faster and Newton has been more durable. Luck led the league in touchdown throws in 2014 and was third in passing yards, in part because he was trying to keep up with the Colts' lackluster defense. The Colts hope that Luck finally puts it all together like Newton in his fifth season for an MVP run.
The Colts have struggled to protect Luck, and invested multiple picks on the offensive line heading into this season. The team has a terrific young core around Luck like it once did with Manning: receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Dwayne Allen are signed long term and buttressed by promising youngsters Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett. Luck has proven he has broad enough shoulders to carry an organization, and we'd expect him to return near the top of the passing yards charts this year. Even if he ranks low in quotability with the media.
"I am thrilled and excited to continue with this great organization," Luck said Wednesday in a statement. "I am thankful to the Irsay family and Mr. Irsay for providing me with this great opportunity and the trust that they've shown in me. I can't wait for this season to start."