Colts C Ryan Kelly Seeking Extension

In January, Colts center Ryan Kelly shot down speculation that he was contemplating retirement. More recently, we learned that the four-time Pro Bowler is not just looking to continue his playing career; per ESPN’s Stephen Holder, Kelly is actually hoping to sign an extension with Indianapolis.

Kelly, who will turn 31 next month, is under club control through 2024 thanks to the four-year, $50MM deal he signed in September 2020. After earning Pro Bowl acclaim that season and again in 2021, Kelly experienced a noticeable drop in play in 2022, which led to some trade rumblings last offseason.

The Colts ultimately elected to retain Kelly and were rewarded for that decision. The Alabama product was regarded by Pro Football Focus as the eighth-best center out of 36 qualifiers in 2023 and was charged with just six total pressures and one sack in 14 games, a performance that led to the fourth Pro Bowl bid of his career.

With promising second-year quarterback Anthony Richardson having missed most of his rookie campaign, and with running back Jonathan Taylor still a focal point of the Indianapolis offense, it would not be particularly surprising to see the Colts explore a way to keep Kelly in the fold beyond the upcoming season. However, talks in that regard have not yet begun, as Mike Chappell of Fox 59 passes along.

With fellow luminaries Jason Kelce and Ryan Jensen having retired, the $12.41MM average annual value on Kelly’s existing contract currently ranks fourth among the league’s active centers. Per Spotrac, Kelly could land a two-year deal worth just shy of $12MM per year if he were on the open market today, and if player and team should initiate contract negotiations in the near future, that would seem to be a fair benchmark.

At present, the Colts do not have an heir apparent to Kelly on their roster. With the 2024 draft just a few days away, that could change, and the addition of an interior offensive lineman would stand to impact Indianapolis’ plans for its ninth-year pivot.

The Colts, who currently own the No. 15 overall pick in the draft, are widely believed to be targeting a pass catcher in the first round. GM Chris Ballard, though, recently lauded the overall depth of the offensive talent in this year’s class, including the O-linemen.

“The O-line in this draft is really excellent, and there’s depth throughout,” Ballard said (via Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star). “I truly believe you’re going to get a really good player in those middle rounds, and even some later, because of the depth of the group.”

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