INDIANAPOLIS – Consider this a Public Service Announcement.
Anyone possessing a San Francisco 49ers jersey they don’t mind parting with, please contact Chase McLaughlin c/o the Indianapolis Colts.
Through his whirlwind tour of the NFL that began in 2019 as an undrafted rookie out of Illinois, McLaughlin has spent time with eight teams, including two tours with the Colts and Minnesota Vikings.
His bio takes a few minutes to scan and reflects his determination: 25 roster moves in four seasons. Here today, seemingly somewhere else tomorrow. He was with five teams during a seven-month stretch of his rookie season.
He’s appeared in 45 games and scored a field goal or PAT in 44.
Along the way, McLaughlin has gotten all too familiar with the lifestyle of a young placekicker.
“Hotels the whole time,’’ he said with a wry smile.
He’s not a fan, even though someone is always cleaning up after you and making your bed.
“Not anymore,’’ he said. “Living out of a suitcase isn’t the way to do things.
“It’s fun for about a week. After that, it gets pretty old.’’
One of the perks – yeah, that’s what we’ll call it – is being able to fill your man cave with mementos of your NFL travels. McLaughlin has collected a jersey from seven of his eight teams: Buffalo, which signed him as a rookie in ’19, Minnesota, the Los Angeles Chargers, Jacksonville, the New York Jets, Cleveland and Indy.
“All of them except for the 49ers,’’ McLaughlin said. “So anyone who’s listening, send me a jersey. We’ll get it one day.’’
As much as he yearns for 49ers garb to complete his collection, McLaughlin hopes he’s wearing a Colts jersey for the next several years.
Perhaps the man who’s been without a permanent NFL home – he and wife have found a permanent home in Indy; we’ll get to that in a bit – has finally found one.
“I feel like I’ve done a great job, but it’s not up to me,’’ McLaughlin said. “It’s up to God. It’s up to the people who make those decisions.
“All I can do is take advantage of my opportunities and see what they think.’’
The Colts turned to McLaughlin in September after incumbent kicker Rodrigo Blankenship missed what would have been a game-winning 42-yard field goal in overtime in the season opener at Houston. The game ended in a 20-all tie and set the tone for what’s been a tumultuous season.
The Colts made the normal in-season commitment to McLaughlin: a one-year, $956,000 contract.
He’s done everything within his power to merit a multi-year deal. Consider:
*28-of-33 on field goals and 16-of-16 on PATs. He’s 20-of-22 inside 50. One of the misses was a 48-yarder that hit the right upright against the Las Vegas Raiders.
*8-of-11 on attempts of at least 50 yards. The eight successful 50-plus yarders are a franchise record and tied for second-most in the league.
*converting at least one field goal in 13 straight games, the longest streak in a season by a Colts’ kicker since Mike Vanderjagt in 2003 (16 games).
*tying the club record with five field goals at Minnesota.
*tying Lou Michaels’ franchise record with 18 points via kicks against the Vikings: five field goals, three PATs.
Interim head coach Jeff Saturday has been impressed with McLaughlin’s “mental toughness.’’
“Any time he’s asked to do anything, he steps out there and does his absolute best,’’ he said. “I mean, obviously kicking the 50-plus yarders. He’s been asked to do a lot, been very consistent.
“Listen, that’s a thankless job the majority of times. Everyone’s expecting . . . it’s expected. There’s not a ‘Hey, this is iffy.’ It’s expected to go through every time he kicks it.’’
McLaughlin’s role – all kickers’ roles – is demanding. Excluding kickoffs, points are on the line every time he steps on the field.
Compounding McLaughlin’s situation is he’s kicking for one of the most inefficient offenses in the league. The Colts have scored a league-low 21 offensive touchdowns, and have failed to score a single TD in four games for the first time since 1993.
In three games, McLaughlin has accounted for all of the scoring, including 52-, 51-, 31- and 48-yard field goals in the 12-9 overtime win at Denver. The 31-yarder tied it with 5 second remaining in regulation. The 48-yarder in OT proved to be the deciding points.
“You’re just out there for one job,’’ he said, “and that’s to make the kicks. We go out there with the same intention every time . . . just make the kicks, whether that’s first quarter, fourth quarter, anything in between; 50 yards, 20 yards, whatever.’’
That mindset has resulted in McLaughlin arguably being the Colts’ offensive MVP this season. But has it been enough for his nomadic career to finally find a home?
“I think I’ve done all I could do,’’ he said.
When general manager Chris Ballard was looking for a replacement for Blankenship in September, McLaughlin was among the kickers he brought in. He had prior experience with him. When the team placed Adam Vinatieri on the injured reserve list for the final four games of ’19, McLaughlin stepped in and converted 5-of-6 field goal attempts and all 11 of his PATs.
McLaughlin was ready for round 2 with the Colts. He and his wife Jessica had been leasing a home in the Westfield area since the end of 2019, and McLaughlin had kept himself ready for anyone to dial him up by kicking at Grand Park Sports Campus, the site of the Colts’ training camp.
“A year after our lease was up, I was in Jacksonville at the time and my wife and I decided we liked Indy and we just stayed here,’’ he said. “This is home.’’
Three ruled out
Saturday ruled three players out of Sunday’s road test against the New York Giants: cornerback Kenny Moore II (ankle), tight end Kylen Granson (ankle) and wideout Ashton Dulin (concussion).
Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is questionable after being added to Friday’s injury report with a throat injury.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.