Speaking to a small group of reporters, Rooney also said he expects quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to play at least two more seasons.

Bill Belichick turns 66. Tom Brady turns 41. New England coordinators Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels reportedly are taking new jobs and Rob Gronkowski didn’t commit to his future after the Patriots lost 41-33 to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 52 on Sunday.

That’s going to lead to the same-old conjecture that the New England dynasty is done, but that can’t be true until somebody from the AFC steps up and ends that dominance.

The 36-year-old quarterback, who is coming off his 14th NFL season, has been the subject of retirement rumors since joking in October that maybe he “doesn’t have it anymore” following a five-interception game against the Jaguars. Roethlisberger’s current contract runs through the 2019 season. Rooney said Wednesday he’d like “to figure out how” to extend Roethlisberger’s contract.

“We’ll address that at the right time,” Rooney said of Roethlisberger’s contract. “But bottom line is we’re excited that’s the way he feels and look forward to continue to work with him and hopefully get a couple more rings for him.

“When you’re dealing with somebody at this stage of his career, I’m not sure we’ve ever dealt with a quarterback that we’re extending at this age,” Rooney added. “So there’s no precedent where we are.

Back to Ballard and Luck’s progress: No less important than the news that Luck had not returned to throwing was Ballard saying Luck was “not going to skip a step.” That’s hard for an impatient audience to hear, but it’s how the Colts and Luck are proceeding. No declarations, a la Carson Wentz and, before him, Robert Griffin III, that they’re “all in for Week 1” or any other week in 2018. The teases of 2017 were draining enough.

It’s good to see the Colts and Luck wanting to be extra sure they don’t live the step-forward, step-back public life. But as that goes on, the idea that they’re never really going to get back the franchise cornerstone in the condition he was in three years ago, or will never see him at his best, grows just a little more.

No head coach, no feisty GM and no rah-rah rivalry catch phrasesweeten the sour taste of that possibility. The wait for the next Colts head coach is annoying. The wait for the next version of Andrew Luck is exponentially worse.nike-youth-cardinals-034

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