ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the news Monday, a day after Vinatieri missed the Colts' 38-35 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. He had been dealing with a left knee injury and missed three of his four field-goal attempts in Week 13's loss to the Tennessee Titans.
The injury could spell the end of Vinatieri's 24-year career.
The kicker turns 47 on Dec. 28 and is already the oldest player on an NFL roster. He struggled mightily throughout the 2019 season, converting a career-low 68 percent of his field goals (his career mark is 83.8) and missing six extra points. After missing five kicks in the first two games, Vinatieri fueled retirement rumors with public comments but said he had no plans on walking away.
Colts head coach Frank Reich stayed with his struggling kicker, offering unwavering public support despite evidence the team needed to move on. While the severity of the knee injury is unclear, having Vinatieri's season end early is probably a bit of a relief for the kicker and the 6-7 Colts.
Chase McLaughlin stepped in for Vinatieri against the Bucs, converting two of three field goals and all three of his extra points. He's knocked down 15 of his 20 field goals for three teams during the 2019 season and has made all 18 of his extra-point attempts.
If Vinatieri's career is over, the three-time All-Pro will leave the game as the NFL's all-time leading scorer. The South Dakota native's 2,673 points are 129 more than Morten Andersen's. He also has an NFL-best 599 field goals.