INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts are bringing one veteran quarterback out of retirement.
No, not that one.
On Wednesday, the Colts agreed to terms with Kerry Collins to back up Peyton Manning, who would likely replace the four-time MVP in the lineup if Manning can’t start the season. Manning is still recovering from offseason neck surgery.
“It is a good opportunity to have Kerry become part of the team,” coach Jim Caldwell said in a statement released by the Colts. “He is a veteran quarterback who has started many games and he brings dimension and depth to the quarterback position, which will be helpful. He is familiar with our division and will make a great addition to our roster.”
The move is yet another indication Manning’s streak of 227 consecutive starts, including playoff games, is in serious jeopardy. Manning had surgery May 23 to repair a nerve in his neck, and the recovery has gone slower than expected partially, Manning said, because he couldn’t work out with team trainers during the 4½-month lockout.
On Saturday morning, team owner Jim Irsay spurred more concern when he wrote on Twitter that the Colts had to be prepared for the unthinkable — playing without Manning in the Sept. 11 season-opener at Houston. Later that day, Manning acknowledged he did not expect to play in the final two preseason games and that he would need the next two weeks just to get healthy.
Irsay’s subsequent post on Twitter asked for fans’ suggestions about signing a veteran free agent and on Sunday, Irsay said he was in Hattiesburg, Miss., stirring speculation that he might be trying to lure Brett Favre out of retirement (again).
Instead, the Colts took Collins, who has played in 195 career games with Tennessee, New Orleans, the New York Giants, Oakland and Carolina.
Caldwell hasn’t said when he expects Manning to return to the field after signing a five-year, $90 million contract to stay in Indy last month.
“I think he laid out pretty well where he is, and that he is working extremely hard to try and get back as quickly as he possibly can,” Caldwell said Monday. “He’s going to work hard at trying to get back and get ready, and he’s doing everything he can to do so.”
The good news is that Collins is already familiar with the Colts’ brain trust.
Indy vice chairman Bill Polian took Collins in the first round of the 1995 draft, No. 5 overall, when he was in charge of the Carolina Panthers. And Caldwell was Penn State’s passing game coordinator from 1988-92, during part of Collins’ college career.
Still, two huge questions remain.
How quickly can the 16-year veteran get up to speed in the Colts offense, which has traditionally relied on calls at the line of scrimmage? And did Collins rediscover his passion for the game in the past seven weeks?
“I have decided that while my desire to compete on Sundays is still and always will be there, my willingness to commit to the preparation necessary to play another season has waned to a level that I feel is no longer adequate to meet the demands of the position,” Collins said in announcing his retirement July 7.
Two weeks later, Collins said he had even considered retiring at the end of last season. The Colts offer one big reason for Collins to come back: The chance of winning a Super Bowl.
Irsay announced the deal on Twitter while Caldwell was still answering reporters’ questions before Wednesday’s practice.
“We have agreed to terms with Kerry Collins...more details to come,” Irsay wrote.
Adding Collins certainly improves Indy’s quarterback contingent. Third-year veteran Curtis Painter, longtime backup Dan Orlovsky and undrafted rookie Mike Hartline were the only other quarterbacks aside from Manning on the roster until Wednesday.
Painter has started both preseason games this year, completing 8-of-16 passes for 95 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.