Andrew Luck has a deal with the Colts ... finally

746838.jpg

Andrew Luck has a deal with the Colts ... finally

From Comcast SportsNet
Rest easy, Colts fans. The Andrew Luck era can now officially begin. The Colts signed the Stanford quarterback and No. 1 overall pick in the draft to a four-year, 22.1 million deal on Thursday, "12 is officially signed!!!!!!" Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted, adding a photo of Luck signing his contract for good measure. Luck's agent and uncle, Will Wilson, confirmed the deal had been completed. The deal is similar to the one signed by Cam Newton a year ago and the one signed this week by Robert Griffin III. Newton, last year's top pick, has a four-year, 22 million deal with Carolina and Griffin, who went No. 2 behind Luck in April's draft, signed a four-year contract with the Washington Redskins worth 21.1 million guaranteed, with a club option for a fifth year. Whatever the terms, Colts fans can look forward to seeing Luck behind center this season, brought in to help the proud franchise rebound after last year's horrible skid. The injured Peyton Manning never played a down and now he's gone, off to Denver for a fresh start with the Broncos. Indy gets a rare opportunity to transition from one star quarterback to another. Luck threw for 35 touchdowns last season -- breaking his school record of 32 in 2010 -- and eclipsed John Elway's career record (77) at Stanford with 80 touchdown passes in only three seasons. He finished with 3,170 yards passing, a 70 percent completion percentage and only nine interceptions without the benefit of an elite wide receiver in 2011. He was the Heisman Trophy runner-up -- twice. Luck has a pretty good idea what to expect beyond wearing a No. 12 jersey for the Colts. He will be expected to help lead the team back from a 2-14 season that included an 0-13 start with Manning out recovering from neck surgery. Irsay cleaned out the front office and changed coaching staffs in January and February. Bruce Arians was Manning's first NFL quarterbacks coach and he's back as Indy's offensive coordinator, and former Indy offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen is now the Colts quarterback coach. There's a new general manager in Ryan Grigson and a new coach in Chuck Pagano. But Luck is the cornerstone in Indy's biggest overhaul since Manning was drafted in 1998. He is expected to start immediately after playing in a pro-style system at Stanford, where he was originally tutored by former Colts quarterback and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. After drafting Luck, the Colts picked tight end Coby Fleener, his Stanford teammate, in the second round. They got another tight end in Clemson's Dwayne Allen and speedy receiver T.Y. Hilton to go with Reggie Wayne. Still, there were a lot of player moves, too. The Colts released Manning on March 7 rather than paying him 28 million. Two days later, Indy cut defensive captains Gary Brackett and Melvin Bullitt and former Pro Bowlers Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai. They lost longtime center Jeff Saturday and emerging receiver Pierre Garcon in free agency and dipped into free-agency to improve a leaky defense and an unproven offensive line. The biggest challenge in 2012, like it was in 1998, will be breaking in a new quarterback.

Quick Links

Troy Mann: Nathan Walker is 'as close as anybody' to being ready for NHL

Troy Mann: Nathan Walker is 'as close as anybody' to being ready for NHL

For the first time in a couple of years, the Caps will have some job openings when training camp opens in September. One—maybe two—of those openings could be in the bottom-six forward group.

Asked on Tuesday to name some prospects he believes could seize a spot on the fourth line, Bears Coach Troy Mann didn’t hesitate to say that he believes Nathan Walker is “as close as anybody” to being ready to make the jump from the minors to the NHL.

RELATED: Who still needs a goalie? Possible destinations for Grubauer

Walker, the Caps’ third round pick in 2014, is aiming to become the first Australian-born player to reach the NHL.   

“I think when you look at our guys, Walker comes to mind,” said Mann, who is running the Capitals’ development camp this week. “He plays the game the right way. He’s a 200-foot player. He gets in on the forecheck. He has good stick detail.”

Walker posted 11 goals and 12 assists in 58 games for the Bears last season. Earlier this month, the 23-year-old winger signed a two-year, two-way contract extension that will pay him $650,000 per year in the NHL.  

“I’d love to see him slide into [Daniel] Winnik’s spot, from my standpoint, because he’s really grown here the last couple of years,” Mann added.

Winnik, who was the Caps’ fourth line left wing last season, will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.  

Mann also mentioned forwards Chandler Stephenson, whom he believes is “the most physically NHL ready” prospect in Hershey, as well as Riley Barber and Travis Boyd as being in the mix to challenge for a spot in Washington this fall. Stephenson played four games for the Caps in 2016-17, while Barber saw in action in three games.

MORE CAPITALS: Craig Laughlin scores game-winner in Alumni Game

Quick Links

Need to Know: The top five receivers the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five receivers the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, June 28, 29 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 178 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 74 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 19
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 43
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 66

The five best wide receivers the Redskins will face in 2017

We’ve looked at the best quarterbacks and the best running backs on the Redskins’ schedule. Now here are the five best wide receivers they will face as determined by 2016 receiving yards.

Odell Beckham, Giants, 1,367 yards in 2016—Josh Norman didn’t exactly shut him down in their two meetings as Beckham has 12 receptions for 165 yards. But Beckham didn’t score any touchdowns or have any other game-changing plays against the Redskins. Their first matchup this year comes under the lights at FedEx Field on Thanksgiving. Save room for popcorn after your Thanksgiving feast.  

Amari Cooper, Raiders, 1,153 yards—There was plenty of chatter that the Redskins wanted to draft Cooper when they have the fifth selection in 2015. But the Raiders snapped him up right before the Redskins picked. Cooper has been a steady and consistent target for Derek Carr. In fact, Carr should get Cooper a really, really nice Christmas present with some of the $125 million contract he just signed, a deal that Cooper helped him get.

Michael Thomas, Saints, 1,136 yards—Others sucked up all the rookie of the year conversation in 2016 but Thomas, a second-round pick out of Ohio State was very worthy of some accolades. To be sure, the Saints’ offense, led by perennial 5,000-yard passer Drew Brees, is very friendly to racking up a lot of receiving yards. With Brandin Cooks traded to the Patriots, look for Thomas to get even more opportunities in 2017.

Doug Baldwin, Seahawks, 1,128 yards—He is coming off career highs in receptions (94) and receiving yards (1,128). Baldwin has only played against the Redskins twice in the regular season and once in the playoffs and he hasn’t done much damage.

Demaryius Thomas, Broncos, 1,083 yards—You have to think that Thomas misses Peyton Manning already. In 2016, he had his worst production in five years. Still, he made his fifth straight Pro Bowl.

Pierre Garçon, 49ers, 1,041 yards—Adding a sixth here because, hey, we know this guy. He was the Redskins’ leading receiver three of the five seasons he was in Washington. I don’t think there is any reason he should want revenge. He was treated well and played well while in Washington. But certainly, he has a ton of professional pride and he will want to do well against his former team.

Best of the rest: Larry Fitzgerald led the NFL in receptions last year with 107 although he averaged only 9.6 yards per catch. Demaryius Thomas’ teammate Emmanuel Sanders also had over 1,000 yards receiving. So did Michael Crabtree, Cooper’s teammate in Oakland. I’m not a big fan of Alshon Jeffery but he instantly becomes the Eagles’ best receiver. Brandon Marshall also came into the division with the Giants. And don’t forget about Dez Bryant even though he appears to have taken a step back; he still is very dangerous.

In all, the Redskins will face nine receivers who gained over 1,000 yards last year.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it