HomeFootball DirtColts Update: WR Michael Pittman Jr. News

Colts Update: WR Michael Pittman Jr. News

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The 2024 free agent class has the potential to boast a number of young wideouts, including Michael Pittman Jr. A new deal for the Colts’ top pass catcher is a priority for the team, but his comments on his situation suggest he would be interested in at least examining his outside market, something complicated by the likelihood of him remaining in Indianapolis for at least one more season.

Pittman has been a model of consistency during his time on a Colts offense which has struggled to find a long-term answer at the QB spot. The former second-rounder has posted at least 925 yards in each of the past three seasons, and he had a career-year in 2023. Pittman ranked fifth in the NFL with 109 catches, totaling 1,052 yards and four touchdowns. Remaining the focal point of the team’s passing game, he drew double-digit targets in a game nine times this season.

Those figures have helped the 26-year-old’s market value ahead of his first career trip to free agency. Pittman could be in line to join a number of other high-profile receivers who have benefitted from the position’s sharp increase in value over the past two years. A lucrative payday will come his way either via a multi-year deal with the Colts or another interested team or the $21.66MM franchise tag. The USC alum is well aware there could be a market for his services outside of Indianapolis.

“I’ve loved my four years here, but I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence if I didn’t explore every option and find the best fit,” Pittman said, via Nate Atkins of the Indy Star. “I think we want to get a sense of what’s out there. We had an agreement that we were going to wait until the season ends before we feel it out.”

Now that the Colts’ season has ended, it will indeed be interesting to see how much progress is made as it pertains to talks on a new deal. Pittman’s comment about exploring other options is notable given the NFL’s offseason calendar. The deadline for teams to apply the one-year franchise tag is March 5, which comes before the new league year (and thus free agency) begins. Any team would therefore only be able to acquire Pittman – or any other tag recipient – by working out a trade contingent on having an extension in place upon arrival. Players are usually averse to playing on the tag, but Pittman added he “wouldn’t say necessarily no” with respect to the idea of playing out the 2024 season with free agency looming once again.

When speaking about Pittman, general manager Chris Ballard said the Colts are prepared to use the tag if talks do not produce a long-term deal. Such a move will not become official (if necessary) until next month at the earliest, but in any case Pittman is an obvious candidate for a contract pairing him with running back Jonathan Taylor (who landed a new pact after his public trade request this summer) and first-round quarterback Anthony Richardson for the long term. Ballard confirmed his desire to work out an agreement which will keep that trio intact.

“I care deeply about him,” the latter said of Pittman, via a separate Atkins piece. “We have a really good relationship. It’s an honest one… The guy is competitive. He’s tough. He cares. He wants to win. We’re going to work to get him back… Pitt is a good football player for us and hopefully he still remains a Colt.”

Players who receive a franchise tag are eligible to continue negotiating a deal until mid-July. The status of talks with Pittman will be worth watching closely, especially if the tag becomes necessary and/or a tag-and-trade market emerges.

 

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