Colts' Michael Pittman Won't Give Up #11 to Carson Wentz ... We're Cool Though!!!

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Carson Wentz will NOT wear #11 with the Indianapolis Colts -- because it already belongs to WR Michael Pittman Jr. ... and he ain't giving it up!!

"I am number 11," the 23-year-old wideout tells TMZ Sports ... "I don't think there's any deal that is gonna be done."

Don't get it twisted ... Pittman says he has a TON of respect for the QB -- calling him a proven winner -- but when it comes to #11, he's not willing to part ways with the digits he rocked his rookie season in Indy.

And, the good news ... Wentz is being totally cool about it.

"Yeah, so I spoke to [Carson] and he was just seeing how locked in I was to #11, and I told him I was locked in -- and he was like, 'That’s cool, bro, because I’m probably gonna switch anyway.'"

Wentz has worn #11 since his college days at North Dakota State and through his career with the Philadelphia Eagles -- but now that he's in a new city, he's open to switching to a new number.

"He asked me very respectfully and I just appreciated him for that. I think he’s a great dude, because lots of guys with his status, they would come in and demand and stuff like that."

Pittman says he's already making plans to get together with Wentz so they can start working out and training ... and believes Wentz will be the QB in Indy for years to come.

"He’s just a super chill guy and I cant wait to get with him and start throwing and stuff."

Carson Wentz Emotional Goodbye To Eagles Fans ... 'An Amazing Journey'

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Carson Wentz just poured his heart out to his old teammates, fans and the Philadelphia Eagles organization ... thanking everyone for their love and support after being traded to the Colts.

Wentz was shipped to Indianapolis in exchange for a couple draft picks earlier this week ... officially ending his 5-year career with the Eagles.

The 28-year-old bid farewell to his first NFL home on Friday in a lengthy message, saying, "As one chapter closes, another one begins."

Wentz first thanked his Eagles teammates -- "I appreciate every one of you and will never forget the relationships and memories made over the years."

"So many lifelong relationships have been formed in that locker room. Thank you for the fellowship, the camaraderie in the locker room, and the daily battles out on the practice field!"

Wentz then showed love to the city of Philly ... adding, "You have been my home for the past five years. It has been everything a kid from Bismarck, North Dakota could have dreamed of."

"My family grew here, had a lot of fun, ate a lot of great food, got to be a part of an incredible church, and so many more memories off the field."

He continued ... "On the field, we brought the Lombardi trophy home to Philly and hopefully brought a lot of joy to the city over the years."

"Thank you to the amazing Eagles fans across the World that have supported my family, our foundation, and our football team through all of the wins and losses. It was an honor to play in a city whose passion and love for their football team is unrivaled."

Lastly, Wentz thanked the team that drafted him #2 overall back in 2016 and making his NFL dream a reality -- "Thank you Mr. Lurie, Howie Roseman & the Eagles front office, Coach Pederson & all of my coaches, our training staff, our equipment staff and all of the support staff at the Nova Care Complex."

"It has been an amazing journey and I wish you all the best."

Wentz says he's stoked for the new journey ahead with the Colts ... and it's easy to believe it -- he's already reached out to his new teammates via text and FaceTime!!

Shannon Sharpe Weighs In On Wentz Trade To Colts ... Both Teams Win!!!

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12:29 PM PT -- Shannon Sharpe says the trade was the "best move for both parties involved" ... as the change of scenery was absolutely necessary for Wentz's career.

The co-host of "Undisputed" on FS1 says the next step for Wentz is to get his confidence back ... after the Eagles mentally broke him after getting benched.

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We also spoke with Sharpe about Deshaun Watson's future and if the QB should hope to land with his Denver Broncos ... and you're gonna want to hear what Shannon has to say.

Carson Wentz is out in Philadelphia -- reportedly traded from the Eagles to the Indianapolis Colts ... for a pair of draft picks.

The deal is a little complicated but essentially comes down to this ... in exchange for Wentz, the Eagles get a 2021 3rd-round draft pick and a 2022 conditional 2nd-round pick that COULD turn into a 1st rounder.

How, exactly?

If Wentz takes 75% of the snaps at QB for the Colts in 2021 -- or if he takes 70% and the Colts make the playoff -- the 2nd rounder becomes a 1st rounder.

But, that's not really a guarantee -- since Wentz played poorly in 2020 and seems to be injury-prone.

Just to compare ... when the L.A. Rams traded for Matthew Stafford, they gave up Jared Goff PLUS two 1st round picks and a 3rd round pick.

Plus, the backup QBs in Indy aren't exactly scrubs -- Jacoby Brissett (who's now technically a free agent) has flashed real potential and Jacob Eason (the Colts 4th-round pick in 2020) could become a real contender for a starting spot as well.

Remember, at one point Wentz -- the 2nd overall pick in the 2016 Draft -- was an NFL MVP candidate ... and the Eagles liked him so much, they signed him to a 4-year, $128 million contract in 2019.

Now, Jalen Hurts will have a real shot to compete for the starting job in Philly -- though there are rumblings the Eagles are looking to draft a top-flight QB in April.

Originally published -- 8:59 AM PT

Colts' Darius Leonard 'Tired' Of Luck Unretirement Talk ... 'We Gotta Move On'

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Indianapolis Colts superstar Darius Leonard says he's officially DONE talking about a possible Andrew Luck unretirement ... telling TMZ Sports, people just need to "move on."

"It's been like two years now and all you hear is 'Andrew Luck. Andrew Luck,'" Leonard says. "We gotta move forward one of these days."

Luck famously called it quits just before the 2019 season began ... and with the retirement announcement coming so swiftly and stunningly in the preseason, rumors of a potential return just haven't died.

In fact, Colts ownership, coaches and players have been asked about a Luck comeback repeatedly over the past few days and weeks ... particularly after Philip Rivers announced his own retirement.

But, Leonard says he believes his former teammate is seriously done ... and he's ready now to just let Luck go.

"It just sucks that that's the topic," Leonard said. "He's been retired for two years and we've been playing these games for two years without him and we're still answering questions about him. We gotta move forward."

Leonard continued, "We as players are tired of hearing the same remarks about Andrew Luck. He did all he could do. We appreciate him. We respect him. But, he's retired now so now we gotta move forward."

As for who the team will move forward with ... Leonard ain't so sure -- with Rivers' retirement and Jacoby Brissett set for free agency, there's not many answers on that front at the moment.

So, we had to ask the linebacker ... what about a trade for Deshaun Watson?!

Ya gotta hear Leonard's answer ... the dude had some hilarious things to say about the Texans and some of their other previous decisions!!!

Philip Rivers Retires After 17 NFL Seasons ... Shawne Merriman Says QB Is Hall of Famer

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12:56 PM PT -- Shawne Merriman says now that the Rivers ride is officially over ... his next stop should 100 percent be in Canton, Ohio.

Rivers' former teammate tells TMZ Sports there's "no question" the Chargers legend should be in the Hall of Fame one day.

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"Phillip Rivers is a Hall of Famer and anyone who look at the numbers can tell," Merriman says. "You would have liked for him to have a Super Bowl or two up in there to make it official but anybody who don't think Phillip Rivers is not a Hall of Famer has just bumped their heads."

Merriman also praised Rivers for being a hell of a teammate ... telling us the guy was "so damn competitive."

"I never played with anybody who was as competitive as Phillip was and it showed on the field," Merriman said.

Philip Rivers is done with the NFL ... the Indianapolis Colts star quarterback announced Wednesday he's retiring after 17 seasons.

"It's just time," the 39-year-old told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "It’s just right."

Rivers ends his career with a super impressive resume ... he made 8 total Pro Bowls, threw for more than 63,000 passing yards and logged 421 passing TDs.

In fact, some believe the work he put in with the Chargers could eventually one day earn him a bust at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

As for why Rivers -- who had a solid season in his first year with the Indianapolis Colts in 2020-21 -- decided to finally call it quits, he said a growing desire to coach high school football helped him make the choice.

"I can sit here and say, 'I can still throw it. I love to play,'" Rivers said. "But that’s always going to be there. I’m excited to go coach high school football."

You'll recall, back in May 2020, Rivers accepted the head football coach role at St. Michael Catholic HS in Fairhope, AL ... and got emotional explaining why he took the job.

DREAMS DO COME TRUE

Now, Rivers says he can't wait to get started molding high schoolers ... saying after his retirement, "That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s been growing. I can’t wait."

Rivers added he's "100 percent at peace" with the choice to hang up the spikes.

"A young kid from Northern Alabama who grew up wanting to play pro ball," Rivers said. "I got to do it."

Originally Published -- 6:09 AM PT

Colts Owner Jim Irsay Shoots Down Andrew Luck Comeback 'Think That Door's Closed'

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Andrew Luck might FOR REAL never play football again ... at least that's what Jim Irsay believes, with the Colts owner saying this week he thinks the QB will stay retired after all.

"I think that door's closed," Irsay told NFL.com.

You'll recall ... Andrew had one of the most shocking retirements in NFL history -- calling it quits just days before the 2019 season officially began.

Some thought it was a rash and impulsive decision ... and believed he'd return to action at SOME point.

But, Luck has remained retired since making the choice ... and when Irsay was asked if the 31-year-old might come back, the Indy honcho said, "You know, I don't think so."

"I really don't," he added.

It's a bummer for not only the Colts but all of the NFL ... Luck was on a Hall of Fame pace before he hung up the cleats -- making the Pro Bowl FOUR times in six seasons.

In his 86 games as Colts starter ... Luck -- who became a father in retirement -- threw for 23,671 yards and 171 passing TDs. He ended his career with an 89.5 passer rating.

"I love Andrew, I wish him well," Irsay said. "He's raising his daughter, Lucy, and I just hope for him to have an incredible life and that sort of thing. But I don't see it coming back around."

Colts Punter Rigoberto Sanchez Cancerous Tumor Surgery A Success ... 'Went Well!!!

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3:38 PM PT -- 12/1 -- Great news from Rigo -- the punter says his procedure was a success ... and thanked all his friends, family and fans for their outpour of support.

"Surgery went well," Sanchez said on Twitter minutes ago. "Overwhelmed by all the love and support everyone sent my way #🎱💙"

Indianapolis Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez says he will undergo surgery Tuesday to remove a cancerous tumor -- but he's grateful doctors caught it before it spread to the rest of his body.

The 26-year-old says the procedure will force him to step away from the Colts -- but he's adamant he'll heal up and return to the team.

Sanchez announced the diagnosis on social media Monday -- praising his medical team and his family.

"So grateful to be surrounded by doctors that helped me catch the cancerous tumor before it spread all over my body," Sanchez said.

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"I will be getting surgery on Tuesday and I know that it will not be an easy bump on the road, but I know I have my amazing wife supporting me along with family, coaches, and friends reaching out."

Sanchez admits he was not mentally prepared for the diagnosis -- who could be? -- but vows to "come back stronger than ever."

Unclear where the tumor is located and how long Sanchez is expected to be away from the Colts -- but the punter says he'll be following the team closely.

"Makes me sick that I’ll have to miss some time playing beside my brothers, but I know they will hold it down."

Sanchez signed with the Colts in 2017 as an undrafted free agent out of Hawaii. But, he's been so good, the team signed him to a 4-year $11.6 million contract in 2019.

Get well soon, Rigo.

Originally Published -- 11/30 8:47 AM PT

NFL Star Darius Leonard Nearly Tossed Wedding Ring To Fan Again Glad I Checked This Time!!!

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Here's Darius Leonard narrowly avoiding another awkward conversation with his wife ...

The Indianapolis Colts superstar actually checked his gloves Sunday before throwing them into the crowd ... dodging Wedding Ring Catastrophe Part II by the narrowest of margins!!!

If you ain't familiar ... back in September, Darius ripped off his gloves in celebration of a win and tossed them to a fan in the stands.

Turns out, though, his wedding ring had gotten stuck in one of the gloves ... and the 25-year-old linebacker had to beg on social media to get it back!!

Fast forward to Sunday ... and after a huge win over the Green Bay Packers, Leonard wanted to give his gloves away again -- and nearly threw the ring with them AGAIN!!!

Fortunately for Darius, he learned his lesson and actually checked the gloves before launching them.

The video is pretty funny ... Leonard realizes his mistake just before throwing the gear -- and, thankfully, a Colts staffer was able to fish the ring out.

The jewelry was saved, the fans got the gloves ... and Darius is still living the happy-wife, happy-life lifestyle.

Congrats on the win AND the lesson learned!

Indianapolis Colts 4 COVID Tests Were False-Positives ... Game On For Sunday

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8:32 AM PT -- Good news ... the Indianapolis Colts say the 4 people who initially tested positive for COVID are now testing negative -- which means they're re-opening the team facility.

In other words, the Colts believe the initial testing produced false-positives -- and they now believe it's safe to prepare for Sunday's game.

The team put out a statement saying, "Earlier this morning, we were informed that four individuals within the organization tested positive for COVID-19."

"The 4 positive samples were re-tested and have been confirmed negative."

"After consultation with the NFL and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Allen Sills, the team will open the practice facility this afternoon under the league's intensive protocol and will continue preparation for Sunday's game against Cincinnati."

More COVID problems in the NFL -- the Indianapolis Colts say "several" members of the organization tested positive Friday ... so they're shutting down the team facility.

"This morning, we were informed that several individuals within our organization have tested positive for COVID-19," the team said in a statement.

"The team is currently in the process of confirming those tests. In the meantime, the practice facility will be closed and the team will work remotely while following NFL protocols."

"We are in communication with the NFL and will have more information when available."

The team has not identified the people who tested positive -- unclear if it's players, coaches, execs, etc.

The Colts -- led by QB Philip Rivers -- are scheduled to host the Cincinnati Bengals in Indy on Sunday. But, now it seems that game could be postponed or canceled if the COVID tests are confirmed.

The Colts news comes one day after the Atlanta Falcons closed their facility following positive COVID tests.

Several teams have been affected by COVID so far this season -- from the Tennessee Titans to the New England Patriots, Raiders, Chiefs and more.

Story developing ...

Originally Published -- 5:38 AM PT

Edgerrin James Tricks Out Car For Hall of Fame ... Rollin' To Canton!!!

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Edgerrin James will be riding in STYLE to the Hall of Fame ... TMZ Sports has learned he's tricked out a classic car for the special occasion -- and it's DOOOOPPEEEE!!!

We're told shortly after Edge learned of his HOF selection this past February ... he handed off a 1975 Chevy Caprice to a body shop in Florida to get it Canton-themed.

And, while it ain't all the way done yet -- it's clear the ride's a BEAST!!

The owner of the body shop tells us damn-near everything on the car is new ... from the HOF wrap job to the 28-inch gold Dayton Wire Wheels.

We're also told the shop replaced the engine with an LS3 supercharged Corvette motor ... so the thing is pretty AND fast!!!

The shop's owner says James is already thrilled with the ride ... and is planning to take it to his induction ceremony -- which has been rescheduled to next August due to COVID.

From there, the shop's owner says James will have the rest of the inductees sign the car ... and then the former Indianapolis Colts great has plans to auction it off.

Unclear where the proceeds will go ... but something tells us it's gonna sell for a helluva lot!!!

Howard Mudd Legendary Colts Coach Dead At 78 ... Peyton Manning Mourns

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3:54 PM PT -- Manning just weighed in on Mudd's death ... calling the coach "the best offensive line coach in NFL history."

"I would put him on that pedestal any day of the week," Manning said. "He will be missed by many. I know so many like me are grateful to have played for him."

Legendary Indianapolis Colts coach Howard Mudd -- the man responsible for getting O-linemen to block for Peyton Manning for YEARS -- died Wednesday, team owner Jim Irsay announced.

He was 78 years old.

According to Mudd's family members ... the famous NFL coach was involved in a serious accident on July 29 -- and succumbed to injuries Wednesday.

"Right after the accident he fought so hard against all odds to communicate to us that he loves us and that he knows we love him," Mudd's family said in a statement.

"[On Tuesday], it became clear that he was ready and that we needed to surround him with love and fight for his right to comfort and peace."

"This morning he was surrounded in the room by his sons [Darren and Adam] who held his arms and prayed over him as he passed away."

Mudd is known as one of the league's greatest offensive line coaches ever ... he famously produced O-lines year after year in Indy that protected Manning during the Hall of Fame QB's prime.

Mudd ultimately coached for nearly 5 DECADES in the league ... and was a damn good O-lineman himself during his playing days in the 1960s.

"Rest in peace, Howard Mudd," Irsay said Wednesday. "Howard was a GREAT player during a shortened career and then became one of the game's all-time greatest offensive line coaches."

"He contributed to many different teams over 47 years in our league---but he will always be a Colt. #LoveYouHoward."

Originally published -- 2:05 PM PT

NFL's Darius Leonard Claims Racism At Chipotle Restaurant Launches Investigation

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I'M SICK OF THIS!

5:45 PM PT -- The chairman and CEO of Chipotle has already launched an investigation into the incident at the location in Florence, SC.

Brian Niccol tells TMZ Sports, "We have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind and we have suspended our manager while we conduct a thorough investigation."

Niccol says he has personally reached out to Darius -- "and I’m committed to ensuring the appropriate action is taken once the investigation concludes."

Indianapolis Colts superstar linebacker Darius Leonard claims he was wrongly kicked out of a Chipotle restaurant in South Carolina ... insisting it's all because he's Black.

The 24-year-old All-Pro says he was eating with his family Thursday -- "3 other Black guys and a mixed woman" -- when another patron (who is white) complained to management that Leonard was "verbally abusing him."

Leonard says the allegation is a straight-up lie -- but the restaurant manager walked over to his table and treated him like a criminal anyway ... booting him from the restaurant and threatening to call the police.

Leonard says what really pisses him off is the white patron got the benefit of the doubt without a shred of evidence -- and says this is the type of crap Black people have to deal with all the time.

"We’re talking about Black Lives Matter and for the guy to look at us and lie and laugh in our face as we walk out and the manger ... just come up here and just basically kick us out of Chipotle?! And, we felt like he was very disrespectful and that’s the white privilege that we are talking about.”

"We are tired of this," Leonard says ... "I'm telling you what I go through as a Black man in America. Ya'll don't understand what I go through."

"Ya'll see the police killing us. Ya'll seeing all the injustices that we go through. I live it. Day in and day out. And, I'm f*cking tired of it. Yes, I'm upset. I'm tired of it."

We reached out to the Chipotle where the incident took place but they offered no comment. We also reached out to the corporate office but so far no word back.

Originally published -- 2:57 PM PT

Indianapolis Colts Create 'Director of Diversity' Role ... 'Black Lives Matter'

The Indianapolis Colts have a new staff position -- "Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion" -- and the team says its all part of an effort to "battle systemic racism."

The organization has announced a new plan "to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion are at the forefront of the team's business and community efforts."

There are 3 major points to the plan ...

1) Creating the Director of Diversity job. That person will "work across all Colts departments on social responsibility, hiring, supplier diversity, education and training and other internal efforts."

2) The team has created the Irsay Family Impact Scholarship -- which will "help talented minority students with a financial need to achieve their educational goals."

The scholarship will cover 8 years of education costs for the recipient -- starting with high school college prep programs and tutors followed by tuition costs at Indiana University.

3) The Colts will formally recognize and celebrate Juneteenth every June 19.

"The team has made Juneteenth a permanent company holiday."

Colts' owner, Jim Irsay, says the moves come after discussions with players and staff about the topics surrounding the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and others.

"I have heard stunning testimonials from our players and staff about their personal experiences with racism," Irsay said.

"We realize these are difficult and uncomfortable topics to talk about, and they certainly go beyond football. But as an Indiana business, as a responsible corporate citizen – and as people who truly care about our fellow Hoosiers – we believe that Black lives matter and that we must continue this dialogue and do what we can to inspire positive change."

Philip Rivers Call Me Coach After NFL Retirement!!! ... Takes Job At Bama HS

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DREAMS DO COME TRUE

Philip Rivers won't wait long for a new gig after his NFL career ends ... the QB just agreed to become a HS football head coach post-retirement -- and he got emotional accepting the job!

The new Indianapolis Colt made the announcement at a press conference at St. Michael Catholic HS in Fairhope, AL ... getting choked up explaining why taking the job means so much to him.

"It's a special day for me and my family really," the 38-year-old said. "I, um, I knew I was going to get a little emotional."

"I had two childhood dreams. And one was to play in the NFL ... and the other is to be a high school football head coach as my dad did. So, it's an exciting day. It really is. I'm going, 'Wow, how blessed am I to be able to live both of those out?!'"

Rivers is so passionate about coaching HS football because his father, Steve Rivers -- whom Phil famously played for at Athens HS in 1999 -- was a HS honcho for decades.

"My dad was my high school football coach," Phil said. "So I want to coach my boys and I want to coach young boys down the road."

It's unclear when exactly Phil will officially put on the headset for the school ... the QB said at the presser he still believes he's got some good football left in his body despite a down year in 2019.

As for why Alabama and St. Michael Catholic ... Phil said, "I know a few people in the area, and then this particular school, not only athletically what I believe they're trying to grow to, but it really aligns with what I believe in spiritually and academically."

Rivers signed a $25 MILLION contract to play for the Colts this year ... but the deal expires next offseason. So, could it be "Coach" Phil by this time in 2021???

Stay tuned ...

Andrew Luck Returns to Colts Facility ... Hangs with Jacoby

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What are YOUUUUUU doing here?!!?

Andrew Luck returned to the Colts headquarters in Indianapolis on Thursday -- the first time we've seen him back there since retiring in August ... and he looks happy!

The QB hung up his cleats right before the regular season kicked off, explaining he couldn't handle any more physical abuse.

Of course, Jacoby Brissett took over as QB1 and he's been doing pretty well so far ... the Colts are 3-2 and coming off a huge upset victory over the KC Chiefs.

The Colts are on a bye this week -- but a bunch of players were still at the facility on Thursday including T.Y. Hilton, Jacoby ... and Andrew Luck!?

Yep!

In fact, the healthy-looking Luck even posed for a pic with Brissett, actor Mike Epps and Amp Harris, a big-time promoter/manager.

Remember, the fans in Indy booed Luck off the field when they learned of his impending retirement ... and Luck said the boos hurt his feelings.

But, seems it's all water under the bridge now ... which is good to see.

30-year-old Luck -- who reportedly made more than $109 MILLION during his NFL career -- has said he wanted to travel the world and live life away from football.

But, clearly, those plans are on hold ... at least for now.

Brandon Marshall Colts Should Sign Kaepernick More Upside Than Brissett

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The Colts should have been on the phone with Colin Kaepernick the second Andrew Luck retired ... so says Brandon Marshall, who tells TMZ Sports Kap's got more upside than Jacoby Brissett!!!

"I know Jacoby knows the offense, but I think the upside of Kap is better," Marshall says ... "It's higher, you know what I'm saying?"

Kap's been famously out of the NFL since taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016 ... but his ex-college teammate thinks now is the PERFECT time for a squad to bring him back in.

"Honestly, man, a team like the Colts, they could've used him," says Marshall, who played with Kaepernick at Nevada from 2008-2010. "The Dolphins, they could've used him."

"He could upgrade that roster immediately," Marshall added. "Even with being out of the league for three years, he could definitely upgrade that roster. I think that's an easy pick."

Seems Colin would be more than ready if one of those team's GMs called ... he's posted a couple workout videos this summer -- and he sure looked good throwing to Odell Beckham Jr.

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But, even if a team doesn't come calling this season ... Marshall says he's damn proud of his friend, telling us, "God chose him for a reason to be the face of the movement at the expense of his career, unfortunately."

"But, I'm proud of him. I'm proud of him. Not many people would have done that. And, it's really bigger than football."

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