Pat McAfee’s relationship with the Indianapolis Colts will last at least one more season.
The team’s veteran punter will play under the one-year, $2.977 million franchise tag that was affixed to him in March, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Monday is the deadline for a franchise player to reach a long-term contract with his team, and that will not happen in McAfee’s case.
It isn’t known whether the team attempted to negotiate a multiyear contract with McAfee. He signed the franchise tag in April, which guaranteed its value.
“I’m ecstatic about the opportunity to be an Indianapolis Colt for at least another year,’’ McAfee said in an email response to The Star. “A long-term deal is obviously something that every player hopes to one day earn. But to have another year in a city that I love, playing for a team with the best locker room in the league and representing a fan base that is the best in the NFL is awesome.
“My focus and hope is that my talents help bring another Lombardi to an organization and a fan base that deserve it. More so than anything, I’m pumped to have another year to work in the beautiful community of Indianapolis.’’
McAfee, 26, is coming off his best season. The 2009 seventh-round draft pick set single-season franchise punting records with a 48.2-yard gross average and 40.3-yard net average. He tied Hunter Smith’s club record with 26 of his punts downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, and his 45.5-yard career gross average is a club record.
McAfee is the latest Colts player to deal with the franchise tag, but only the second who wasn’t signed to a long-term deal prior to the deadline. In 2005, running back Edgerrin James played under a one-year, $8.08 million tag.
The next season, the Colts allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent, and he signed with the Arizona Cardinals.
When the franchise tag expires at the end of the season, McAfee becomes an unrestricted free agent.
“Last year, starting the #ChuckStrong movement was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done,’’ he said of supporting coach Chuck Pagano’s battle with leukemia. “Helping promote that for at least another year with the toughest/coolest coach in the league will be awesome.
“Another year helping Cargo Services with ‘The Books for Youth’ campaign will be amazing. Another year of giving a block of tickets to ‘Wish For Our Heroes’ for every home game will be so gratifying. (I’m excited) for military appreciation game; the Colts and I are going to do something that’s going to change lives. It’s because of all of these things that I am so excited to have another year in the Circle City.’’