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Colts lock up kicker Vinatieri, safety Bullitt on three-year deals

The best clutch kicker in NFL history is staying put. So is Bob Sanders' replacement.

On Wednesday, the Indianapolis Colts came to terms on a three-year deal with Adam Vinatieri, NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported, citing a league source. The Associated Press reported that the Colts also agreed to a three-year pact with Melvin Bullitt.

Details of the deals weren't immediately available, and team spokesman Avis Roper said the Colts wouldn't confirm any transactions until later this week because players cannot officially sign contracts until Friday.

Vinatieri's agent, Gary Uberstine, confirmed the move in an email to The Associated Press. Bullitt took to the local airwaves to confirm his deal.

"It was 'Let's get this done, let's move past it, let's get ready for the season,' " he told WFNI-AM on Wednesday afternoon.

Bullitt has been a backup to the oft-injured Bob Sanders since joining the Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2007, but he's expected to become a full-time starter this season after Sanders' release. Sanders, the 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Tear, signed with the San Diego Chargers before the NFL lockout began in March.

Completing both deals quickly at least provides some answers for a team scrambling to put its roster together before players report to training camp Sunday.

Still, the biggest concern -- a new long-term contract for four-time MVP Peyton Manning -- hasn't been resolved. Team owner Jim Irsay repeatedly has promised to make Manning the highest-paid player in league history. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady currently holds that distinction with an annual average salary of $18 million.

The Colts placed the exclusive franchise tag on Manning in February, a move that prevents him from negotiating with other teams and would pay him about $23 million this season if he signed the deal. Clearly, the Colts would prefer a long-term deal that lowers Manning's salary-cap number for this season and clears enough room to sign more of their own free agents.

"I hope it can get done quickly, and I think it should get done quickly," Irsay said Monday night. "Under this system, you can't pay a player $25 million or you won't be able to compete."

While the Manning negotiations continue, the Colts have been busy signing undrafted rookies and agreeing to deals with Vinatieri and Bullitt.

The 38-year-old Vinatieri is one of just seven players in league history to score 500 or more points with two different teams (Patriots, Colts).

Vinatieri made the 48-yard field goal that gave New England its first Super Bowl win after the 2001 season. He also made the tying kick in regulation and the winner against Oakland in the snow during the playoffs that season, a contest best remembered as the "tuck rule" game. Two years later, Vinatieri made another Super Bowl-winning kick against Carolina.

And he played an integral role in the Colts' 2006 Super Bowl run, making five field goals in a 15-6 win at Baltimore, going 3-for-3 against New England in the Colts' AFC title game comeback, and 3-for-4 on a rainy Miami day to help beat Chicago in the Super Bowl.

After missing much of the 2009 season following hip surgery, Vinatieri played in all 16 games in 2010 and made 26-of-28 field-goal attempts.

Bullitt came into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2007, started 21 games in 2008 and 2009 and had five interceptions in his first three NFL seasons. Last year, after replacing the injured Sanders as the starter again, Bullitt had season-ending surgery on his right shoulder in October.

Irsay has acknowledged the Colts will have to cut some players, perhaps even a "well-known" player. Though he didn't identify any individuals as potential cap casualties, speculation has centered on longtime right tackle Ryan Diem. He's scheduled to make $5.4 in base salary this season, the last on his current deal.

More roster moves should be coming by Friday night.

"I'm like everybody else, I suspect something is going to happen," said Cliff Brady, Diem's agent. "I know they're trying to get Charlie Johnson done."

Johnson has been the starting left tackle the last two seasons in Indianapolis and is an unrestricted free agent.

The Colts used their first two draft picks in an obvious attempt to upgrade the offensive line. But it's unlikely they want two rookie linemen protecting their high-priced franchise quarterback, who is still rehabbing from offsesason neck surgery.

In addition to Bullitt, Johnson and Vinatieri, the list of free agents the Colts would like to retain includes running back Joseph Addai and linebacker Clint Session, both starters.

Another possible cap cut could be cornerback Kelvin Hayden, whose base salary this season is expected to be nearly $9 million. It was Hayden who picked off the pass against Chicago and returned it for a touchdown to seal the Colts' Super Bowl win.

"We are talking to some of our own guys," general manager Chris Polian said Tuesday. "We will not have the ability to retain all of our free agents. We will try to retain as many as we can, but I would not expect that to be 100 percent across the board."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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