DeForest Buckner

Colts Extend DT DeForest Buckner

APRIL 17: The Colts are guaranteeing nearly this entire pact, which reminds of the structure the Texans authorized for Danielle Hunter. Of Buckner’s $46MM, $43.25MM is guaranteed at signing. Both Buckner’s 2024 and ’25 base salaries ($2.25MM, $13MM) are fully guaranteed, per OverTheCap.

This profiles as a great deal for Buckner, with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio indicating $10MM of his $13MM 2026 base salary shifts from an injury guarantee to a full guarantee in 2025. This would bump the practical guarantee in this through-2026 deal to $53.25MM. Indy used two void years for bonus proration purposes. The extension dropped Buckner’s 2024 cap number to $8.35MM, saving more than $14MM. Even with the void years, Buckner’s cap number spikes to $26.6MM in 2025.

APRIL 15: DeForest Buckner has become the latest defensive tackle to benefit from the position’s surging market. The three-time Pro Bowler agreed to a two-year, $46MM extension on Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. The deal is now official, per a team announcement.

The past two offseasons has seen a number of defensive tackle contributors land lucrative new deals, especially ascending players at the position securing second contracts. That does not apply in Buckner’s case, but the 30-year-old has been as advertised during his time in Indianapolis. In four years since Buckner was acquired via trade, he has racked up 32.5 sacks and (in the 2020 campaign) his lone career first-team All-Pro nod.

One year remained on the former 49er’s existing deal – a four-year, $84 pact signed upon arrival in Indianapolis – and he was set to carry a 2024 cap hit of $22.75MM. Schefter’s colleague Stephen Holder notes that figure could change with Buckner now on the books through 2026, but he adds the Colts rarely elect to backload extensions such as this one. In any case, he will carry a similar cost for the next two seasons ($23MM AAV) compared to his current pact.

Buckner has missed just one game during his Colts run, and he has remained a consistent producer during his time with the team. He has made between 58 and 81 tackles each season with Indianapolis, with the latter figure (posted in 2023) representing a career high. The former first-rounder has added between 21 and 26 QB hits each year in that span, and he will be expected to remain a top producer on the Colts’ defense for the intermediate future with this new deal now in hand.

Indianapolis has been busy this offseason with respect to retaining key players on both sides of the ball. That has included new deals for the likes of cornerback Kenny Moore and safety Julian Blackmon, along with an extension for linebacker Zaire Franklin. On offense, wideout Michael Pittman Jr. saw his time attached to a franchise tag come to an end once a three-year, $70MM deal was worked out.

Along the defensive line, the Colts have also elected to return much of the core which was in place last year. Grover Stewart and Tyquan Lewis each signed new deals in March, and the former is on the books for the next three years while the latter is in place for the next two. Stewart in particular has been a key figure in the Colts’ defensive interior, serving as a full-time starter for each of the past five years. His partnership alongside Buckner is now set to continue beyond 2024.

Buckner entered Monday ranked 11th in the league in terms of annual average compensation amongst defensive tackles. Seeing a slight bump in that regard will move him back into the top 10 with this pact, one which ensures he will remain a focal point of Indianapolis’ front seven for at least the next few years.

Largest 2023 Cap Hits: Defense

While the NFL’s top 2023 cap hits go to players on offense, a number of pass rushers are tied to lofty figures as well. None check in higher than Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

Williams and Chiefs D-tackle Chris Jones carry high contract-year cap hits, while the Steelers’ two front-seven cornerstones each are set to go into training camp with cap figures north of $20MM. As the salary cap climbed to $224.8MM this year, here are the top defensive cap figures as camps near:

  1. Leonard Williams, DL (Giants): $32.26MM
  2. T.J. Watt, OLB (Steelers): $29.37MM
  3. Myles Garrett, DE (Browns): $29.18MM
  4. Chris Jones, DT (Chiefs): $28.29MM
  5. Aaron Donald, DL (Rams): $26MM
  6. Arik Armstead, DT (49ers): $23.95MM
  7. Cameron Heyward, DL (Steelers): $22.26MM
  8. C.J. Mosley, LB (Jets): $21.48MM
  9. Jonathan Allen, DT (Commanders): $21.44MM
  10. Shaquil Barrett, OLB (Buccaneers): $21.25MM
  11. Grady Jarrett, DT (Falcons): $20.63MM
  12. Marlon Humphrey, CB (Ravens): $19.99MM
  13. Shaquille Leonard, LB (Colts): $19.79MM
  14. Kevin Byard, S (Titans): $19.62MM
  15. Adoree’ Jackson, CB (Giants): $19.08MM
  16. Harold Landry, OLB (Titans): $18.8MM
  17. Justin Simmons, S (Broncos): $18.15MM
  18. Jamal Adams, S (Seahawks): $18.11MM
  19. Matt Judon, DE (Patriots): $18.107MM
  20. Quandre Diggs, S (Seahawks): $18.1MM
  21. Nick Bosa, DE (49ers): $17.9MM
  22. DeForest Buckner, DT (Colts): $17.25MM
  23. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE (Dolphins): $17.19MM
  24. DeMarcus Lawrence, DE (Cowboys): $17.11MM
  25. Eddie Jackson, S (Bears): $17.1MM

The Chiefs are working toward a second extension agreement with Jones, who is in the final season of a four-year, $80MM contract. A new deal with the star inside pass rusher would free up cap space, and DeAndre Hopkins is believed to be monitoring this situation.

As for Williams, the Giants had wanted to adjust his deal to reduce his eye-opening cap number. As of mid-June, however, no extension appeared to be on the team’s radar. The previous Giants regime signed off on the 2021 Williams extension (three years, $63MM). The Giants are also uninterested — for the time being, at least — in extending Jackson, who was also a Dave Gettleman-era defensive addition.

Donald is in the second season of a three-year, $95MM deal. The Rams gave Donald a landmark raise last year, convincing the all-everything D-tackle to squash retirement talk. A no-trade clause exists in Donald’s contract, which pays out its guarantees this year. Mosley remains tied to the $17MM-per-year deal the Mike Maccagnan regime authorized with the Jets. That contract, which reset the off-ball linebacker market in 2019, still has two seasons remaining on it due to the deal tolling after Mosley’s 2020 COVID-19 opt-out call. The Jets restructured the deal last year.

Washington now has two D-tackles tied to deals of at least $18MM per year. While Daron Payne‘s pact is worth more ($22.5MM AAV), higher cap hits on that deal will come down the road. Three years remain on Allen’s 2021 agreement. At safety, no team is spending like the Seahawks. In addition to the big-ticket deals authorized for Adams and Diggs, Seattle gave ex-Giants starter Julian Love a two-year, $6MM accord in March.

New Titans GM Ran Carthon attempted to give Byard a pay cut. That request did not go over well, but the standout safety remains with the team and has not requested a trade. Tennessee re-signed Landry on a five-year, $87.5MM deal in 2022; the veteran edge rusher has yet to play on that deal due to the ACL tear he sustained just before last season.

The 49ers can bring Bosa’s number down via an extension, which has long been on the team’s docket. As San Francisco extended Deebo Samuel just after training camp began last year, Bosa received back-burner treatment due to the fifth-year option. The star defensive end’s price undoubtedly went up during the waiting period, with the former No. 2 overall pick earning Defensive Player of the Year acclaim in the fourth year of his rookie contract.

DL Notes: Reed, Donald, Colts, Steelers, Cards, Jags, Jets, Bucs, Panthers, Texans

Jarran Reed‘s initial Seahawks tenure ended strangely, with the team’s attempt at a restructure leading to a communication breakdown that ended with the defensive tackle’s release. After Reed sought a Seahawks extension during the offseason in which the COVID-19 pandemic led to a salary cap reduction, he ended up signing a one-year deal with the Chiefs. That preceded a 2022 Packers pact. Reed is now back in Seattle, having signed a two-year, $9MM deal.

The veteran D-lineman said, via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta, neither side wanted to part ways in 2021 and that he remained interested in a potential return while away. The Seahawks called Reed early in free agency, and the sides agreed to terms on what is a less lucrative contract compared to the one the team removed from its payroll two years ago (two years, $23MM). Reed, 30, will join Dre’Mont Jones as Seattle D-tackle additions.

Here is the latest from the D-line scene:

  • The Cardinals met with Georgia edge rusher Nolan Smith on Wednesday, per’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), squeezing in a final visit before the deadline. They also recently brought in Texas Tech edge Tyree Wilson, Albert Breer of notes, adding the Jaguars also met with the former Big 12 dynamo for a late visit (Twitter link). The Cardinals hold the No. 3 overall pick. While Arizona has dangled it in trades, the team not receiving a viable offer opens the door to a best-defender-available pick. Wilson would qualify as an option at 3, though Smith — No. 17 on ESPN’s big board; No. 18 on Daniel Jeremiah’s — would seemingly enter Arizona’s equation after a trade-down maneuver.
  • BJ Ojulari resides as a possible option for a team late in the first round or in the early second, and a few teams brought in the LSU alum recently. The Jets, Buccaneers, Panthers and Texans met with Ojulari, Rapoport adds (on Twitter). The younger brother of Giants outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari, BJ profiles as a speed rusher. He combined for 12.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss over the past two seasons with the Tigers, declaring for the draft after his junior year. Azeez Ojulari went 50th overall in 2020.
  • Both the Colts and Steelers have met with Clemson defensive lineman Bryan Bresee, per Rapoport and’s Brooke Pryor (Twitter links). Bresee is in Indianapolis today. A former top-five recruit, Bresee is not a candidate to go in the top five of this draft. But the multiyear Clemson starter joins Myles Murphy as Tiger D-linemen on the Round 1 radar. The Steelers came up regarding Bresee last month, and while the team recently re-signed Larry Ogunjobi, Cam Heyward is going into his age-34 season. The Colts, who added former first-rounder Taven Bryan in free agency, have DeForest Buckner signed for two more seasons.
  • Buckner recently revealed he played all of last season with a UCL tear in his left elbow. Indicating he’s “not a quarterback or a pitcher,” Buckner said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson) his injury will not require surgery. Buckner finished with eight sacks and a career-high 74 tackles in 2022. Although the Colts are at a crossroads after a wildly disappointing season, Erickson adds the team still views Buckner as a cornerstone. The former 49ers first-rounder is going into his age-29 season.
  • Aaron Donald saw an injury sideline him for the first time as a pro. A high ankle sprain led the Rams superstar out of action, and Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes the all-time great underwent a tightrope procedure to repair the injury (Twitter link). This is not an uncommon procedure; Tony Pollard underwent the same surgery in January. Donald, 32 next month, has also returned to full strength, per Rodrigue. Two years remain on Donald’s record-setting contract.

Stephon Gilmore Requested Trade From Colts?

It came as something of a surprise when the Colts traded Stephon Gilmore to the Cowboys in March. After all, Indianapolis just signed the 2019 DPOY to a two-year, $20MM contract last year, and he was a rare bright spot in a generally disappointing 2022 season for the club.

Plus, while Gilmore’s age (he is entering his age-33 season) and contract status did not help matters, the Colts’ return of a fifth-round pick seemed underwhelming in light of Gilmore’s 2022 performance and overall track record. GM Chris Ballard later conceded that the trade was partly motivated by cap considerations, and we have since learned that Gilmore may have actually requested a trade out of Indianapolis.

Colts defensive lineman DeForest Buckner suggested as much, saying, “Gilly is at a different point in his career than I am. He just finished up Year 11, and I’m going into Year 9, so you know, if I was in his position, maybe I would have considered the same thing” (via Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star). “That’s the best decision that he made for him and his family, and I’m all for it.”

It seems, then, that Gilmore was the one who set the wheels of a trade in motion, and he did so in order to play for a team that has more of a chance to compete for a championship in 2023, and perhaps beyond. Gilmore does have a Super Bowl ring from his time with the Patriots, though it makes sense that he would want a shot at another title and does not see the Colts — who appear poised to start either a rookie or a bridge passer at quarterback in 2023 — as an immediate contender.

The Gilmore trade does leave Indianapolis rather thin at the CB position, the team’s reported optimism about its incumbents notwithstanding. If Ballard hits on his expected selection of a QB with his top choice in this month’s draft, The Colts could quickly reemerge as championship hopefuls. However, Buckner — who also lived through a rebuild during the early part of his career with the 49ers — does not appear willing to do the same in Indianapolis.

“I hate that word (rebuild),” Buckner said. “My rookie year in San Francisco, we went 2-14, the coach got fired, we brought in Kyle [Shanahan] and the majority of the roster was gone. Brought in new guys, and it took a couple of years. … We were building a team, a culture and all of that, but I was a young player, so I was able to grind through those tough years. … As you get older, rebuild’s definitely not a word you want to hear.”

Buckner, who recently agreed to a restructure to provide the Colts with 2023 cap relief, is under contract through 2024. However, he is scheduled to carry a $22.8MM cap number next year, and depending on what Indianapolis’ future looks like at the end of the upcoming season, he may not be particularly amenable to an extension that would smooth out that charge.

Contract Details: Phillips, Green, Buckner

Here are some of the details on a few deals reached recently around the league:

  • Jordan Phillips, DE (Bills): One-year, $3MM. We received some new details on the deal, thanks to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. We now see that the $1.22MM of guaranteed money is composed of a $500,000 signing bonus and $720,000 of Phillps’s base salary (worth a total of $1.81MM). He’ll receive a per game active roster bonus of $35,000 for a potential season total of $595,000, as well as a $100,000 offseason workout bonus. Additional money can come through incentives based on playing time ($750,000) and sacks ($850,000). The sacks incentive is broken down as follows: $200,000 for 3.0-4.5 sacks, $600,000 for 5.0-7.5 sacks, and $850,000 for eight sacks or more.
  • Rasheem Green, DE (Bears): One-year, $2.5MM. The deal, according to Wilson, has a guaranteed amount of $850,000 consisting of a $350,000 signing bonus and $500,000 of Green’s base salary (worth a total of $1.5MM). He can make an additional $250,000 through incentives and $150,000 in a workout bonus. A per game active roster bonus of $29,411, worth a potential season total of $500,000, pushes the maximum potential value of the contract to $2.75MM.

We also got some details recently on a newly restructured deal:

  • The Colts reached an agreement with defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to reduce his salary cap impact for the coming season, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. The team converted $5MM of salary into a signing bonus in order to clear $2.5MM of cap space. Buckner is reportedly still set to earn $19.75MM in 2023, all of which is fully guaranteed.

Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Defense

After looking at this year’s top salary cap numbers on the offensive side of the ball, here is a rundown of the players counting the most toward their teams’ payrolls in 2022.

As could be expected, the salary figures here start below the quarterbacks. A few pass rushers, however, are tied to notable cap hits. Those numbers that check in within the top 20 leaguewide regardless of position. With the exception of true nose tackles and pure slot cornerbacks, every defensive position is represented here.

Here are the top cap figures on the defensive side for the ’22 season:

  1. T.J. Watt, OLB (Steelers): $31.12MM
  2. Chris Jones, DT (Chiefs): $29.42MM
  3. Joey Bosa, OLB (Chargers): $28.25MM
  4. Leonard Williams, DL (Giants): $27.3MM
  5. Aaron Donald, DT (Rams): $27MM
  6. Jalen Ramsey, CB (Rams): $23.2MM
  7. Deion Jones, LB (Falcons): $20.1MM
  8. Bud Dupree, OLB (Titans): $19.2MM
  9. Justin Simmons, S (Broncos): $18.85MM
  10. Javon Hargrave, DT (Eagles): $17.8MM
  11. C.J. Mosley, LB (Jets): $17.5MM
  12. Cameron Heyward, DL (Steelers): $17.42MM
  13. Robert Quinn, DE (Bears): $17.14MM
  14. Matt Judon, OLB (Patriots): $16.5MM
  15. DeForest Buckner, DT (Colts): $16MM
  16. Shaquill Griffin, CB (Jaguars): $16.44MM
  17. Tre’Davious White, CB (Bills): $16.4MM
  18. J.J. Watt, DL (Cardinals): $15.9MM
  19. Marcus Peters, CB (Ravens): $15.5MM
  20. Carl Lawson, DE (Jets): $15.33MM
  21. Eddie Jackson, S (Bears): $15.1MM
  22. Lavonte David, LB (Buccaneers): $14.79MM
  23. Budda Baker, S (Cardinals): $14.78MM
  24. Romeo Okwara, DE (Lions): $14.5MM
  25. Trey Hendrickson, DE (Bengals): $14.49MM
  • Illustrating how much the cap has climbed over the past several seasons, T.J. Watt is tied to a number nearly twice that of J.J. Watt, who has been tied to $16.7MM-per-year (a defender-record number in 2014) and $14MM-AAV deals as a pro. Trailing his older brother in Defensive Player of the Year honors, T.J. is signed to an edge defender-record $28MM-per-year accord.
  • Jones’ four-year Chiefs deal vaults from an $8.5MM cap number in 2021 to the league’s second-highest defensive figure this year. The standout defensive tackle’s cap hit accompanies Patrick Mahomes‘ $35.79MM number, which is well north of his 2021 figure, on Kansas City’s new-look payroll.
  • After two franchise tags, Williams scored a monster extension in 2021. The well-paid Giants D-lineman’s cap number this year is way up from his 2021 number ($9.4MM).
  • The Rams redid Donald’s contract last month, adding no new years to the through-2024 pact. The all-world defender’s cap hit actually decreases in 2023, dropping to $26MM
  • It is not certain Deion Jones will be back with the Falcons, who have jettisoned other Super Bowl LI cornerstones from the roster since the current regime took over in 2021. But they would save just $1MM were they to release the seventh-year linebacker.
  • To date, this represents the high-water mark for Mosley cap hits on his Jets deal, which at the time (2019) began a sea change for off-ball linebacker contracts. Mosley’s cap hit, on a pact that runs through 2024 because of the linebacker opting out of the 2020 season, increased by $10MM from 2021-22.
  • Hargrave is one of five Eagles pass rushers signed to veteran contracts. The ex-Steeler’s 2021 deal accompanies Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick, and Fletcher Cox‘s new agreement on Philadelphia’s defensive front. As cap hits do not reflect average salaries, Hargrave is the only member of this quartet tied to an eight-figure cap number in 2022.
  • Quinn has also been connected to a departure, with the 31-year-old pass rusher skipping minicamp after it became known he would like to be traded away from the rebuilding team. His cap hit tops the Bears’ payroll. The Bears would save $12.9MM by trading Quinn, should another team sign up for taking on his full 2022 base salary.

COVID-19 Latest: Ravens, Tuitt, Colts

Multiple standout defensive linemen will be back in action in Week 13, and although the Ravens still have several players on their reserve/COVID-19 list, their roster is no longer as depleted as it was Wednesday.

  • Baltimore’s coronavirus list still houses 10 players, including Lamar Jackson, but the team will have multiple starters back at practice soon. The Ravens activated Calais Campbell, Mark Ingram and defensive lineman Jihad Ward from their virus list. Ingram was eligible to play against the Steelers on Wednesday, but the Ravens held him out. A five-time Pro Bowler, Campbell has not played since Nov. 8 due to a calf strain.
  • The 11-0 Steelers will have Stephon Tuitt back in action when they face Washington on Monday. They activated the seventh-year starter from their reserve/COVID list. Three Steelers remain on the virus list, including starters James Conner and Maurkice Pouncey.
  • Pricey trade acquisition DeForest Buckner came off the Colts‘ virus list as well. Buckner landed on Indianapolis’ COVID list after testing positive for the virus in late November. The Colts, who allowed the Titans to rush for 229 yards in Buckner’s absence last week, also removed Jonathan Taylor from their virus list.
  • The Ravens announced Saturday that four strains of the coronavirus were present in their building. While the team believes it contained three of those strains, the fourth ended up spreading to the point it forced the NFL to postpone the team’s Steelers rematch three times. Ten straight days commenced with at least one Raven testing positive for the virus, and the team had as many as 23 players on its reserve/COVID list at the height of the outbreak. Four straight days, however, have passed without a Ravens positive test.

AFC Notes: Colts, McCown, Harbaugh

The Colts pulled off a rare blockbuster trade this offseason, shipping out their first-round pick in exchange for All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Now, we have more details on exactly how that deal came to be. It all happened quickly, as the deal came together in less than a week, sources told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Buckner’s agent met with 49ers brass back at the combine, where they made it clear the big man was looking for at least $20MM annually on a contract extension. San Francisco apparently decided right then and there that they weren’t going to be able to pay that, and needed to look for a trade.

La Canfora reports that a handful of teams were in the mix, but Colts GM Chris Ballard was the most aggressive in his pursuit. Ballard was willing to talk contract details immediately, and of course the defensive tackle ended up getting a new pact worth more than $21MM annually. La Canfora also notes that Indiana’s low three percent income tax played a role in Buckner’s eagerness to join Indy. The Colts have had one of the best defenses in the league this season, in large part due to Buckner’s continued elite play.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • It was a very quiet trade deadline this past week, and the Browns were one of the many teams to stand pat. That doesn’t mean front office head Andrew Berry wasn’t working the phones, and he revealed recently during a call with the media that Cleveland came close on a couple of deals. “We did explore a number of different possible transactions. I’d say maybe a couple of things got perhaps within striking distance but either moved away from us or we moved away from it for various reasons,” Berry said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Berry also indicated that the uncertainty around the 2021 salary cap due to COVID-19 played a large part in the lack of trades. At 5-3, the Browns were in position to be buyers at the deadline for the first time in many years, so it would’ve been exciting to see them add a piece.
  • Here’s something we didn’t see coming. The deal Josh McCown recently signed with the Texans is actually for two years, meaning he won’t be a free agent at the end of the year as was initially assumed, La Canfora writes. While it’s a bit surprising considering McCown is 41 and was only on the Eagles’ practice squad until last week, it does make some sense considering the circumstances. Houston is headed into a period of great uncertainty as they look for a new head coach and GM, and McCown will be a steady veteran presence for this rocky transition. La Canfora’s piece makes it clear that the offer was made as a ‘culture’ signing, with McCown essentially serving as another coach for DeShaun Watson moving forward. McCown, who had been participating with the Eagles remotely while living at home in Texas, “agonized” over the decision to leave Philly’s organization, sources told La Canfora. Pretty much everybody seems to believe McCown is going to become a coach whenever he eventually hangs up his cleats, and La Canfora confirms that he is still “very much on the Eagles’ radar as a potential quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator soon after he retires.”
  • Speaking of things seemingly everyone believes, Adam Gase is nearly universally thought be on his way out as the Jets head coach. Whenever he’s officially fired New York’s head coaching search will become very interesting, and one name that is bound to come up again is Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh has been rumored as a Jets candidate in each of their last three coaching searches, but Rich Cimini of isn’t sure it would be a great fit. Although he notes New York interviewed Harbaugh in 2009 and were interested in 2014, he thinks a coach of Harbaugh’s pedigree would likely want to have personnel control over whatever team he heads to. Considering the Jets just recently hired GM Joe Douglas and aren’t planning on firing him any time soon, that arrangement wouldn’t really gel. All that being said, Cimini does point out that Douglas knows John Harbaugh from his time with the Ravens, so perhaps we shouldn’t totally shut the door on this one.

Colts Notes: Hines, Rivers, Buckner, DL

Even after drafting Jonathan Taylor in the second round to pair with Marlon Mack, the Colts say Nyheim Hines will continue to enjoy a meaningful role in the offense. Ideally, Hines says he’d also like to make a dent in the return game.

I’d love to do punt and kick returns again,” Hines said (via Joel A. Erickson of the Indy Star). “But I’ve got to go out there and earn both of the jobs. That’s what I plan on doing. I’d like to start at both of them.”

Hines made a strong case for the job last year, tallying the third-highest punt-return yardage total in the league in just nine attempts. Still, he’ll have to vie with fellow speedsters Parris Campbell and Isaiah Rodgers for the gig this summer.

More from Indy:

  • Philip Rivers has arrived in Indianapolis and has taken the lead role in organizing players-only workouts in the area, Stephen Holder of The Athletic notes (subscription required). These workouts are expected to take place next week. Players are not expected to be back at their teams’ facilities until training camp, though some momentum may be building to an earlier arrival.
  • Speaking of Rivers, his transition to the Colts will be easier than other relocating quarterbacks’ adjustments to their respective teams. While Tom Brady is learning a system that differs considerably from his Patriots setup, the Colts will use use essentially “the exact same system” as the one the Chargers used when Frank Reich and OC Nick Sirianni coached Rivers out west, Colts quarterbacks coach Marcus Brady said (via’s Andrew Walker). They have installed roughly 90% of their offense already.
  • The biggest name on Indianapolis’ defense, however, profiled as a fairly unknown commodity to the team’s defensive line coach. New Colts D-line coach Brian Baker spent the past four years as a college coach, working with Mississippi State and Alabama, but will now coach Pro Bowler DeForest Buckner. Baker evidently did not catch many 49ers games during that time. “I’ve been away from it for a while, and I didn’t really know who DeForest was,” Baker said, via Walker. “My energy was focusing on college players and recruiting. So I didn’t know who he was, and I’m like, ‘Who’s the big ‘ol 99? This dude can play. And I’m like, ‘Man, it’d be great …’ and you end up looking, ‘OK, DeForest Buckner,‘ like, ‘Man, it’d be good to get this guy.'”
  • Buckner and Justin Houston will start for the Colts up front. But after that, competitions will commence to see who joins them, Baker added. Third-year defensive end Kemoko Turay appears to be the leading candidate to work opposite Houston. A starter at defensive tackle the past two years, Denico Autry will face off against ex-49ers starter Sheldon Day and third-year player Tyquan Lewis for the job alongside Buckner.

West Notes: 49ers, Dissly, Raiders

With DeForest Buckner‘s asking price starting at $20MM per year, the 49ers gave the Pro Bowl defensive tackle’s agent permission to seek a trade at the Combine, Albert Breer of notes. Lynch told Joel Segal, Buckner’s agent, that the four-year San Francisco starter had earned a megadeal. But in order for the 49ers to sign off on a trade, a first-round pick had to be involved. Segal found a taker in the Colts before the Combine’s conclusion.

Not only did he bring back a first-round pick, he brought back the 13th pick,” Lynch said. “And then, it’s like, ‘Whoa, I didn’t think he’d do that.’ By that point, you start looking at how we can keep our team together. And I guess a long story short, it’s not something we wanted to do, but at a certain point, we felt like that was the best decision.”

The 49ers opted to extend Arik Armstead at $17MM per year, instead trading Buckner to the Colts and drafting defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw 14th overall. Buckner signed a $21MM-AAV deal with Indianapolis. Here is more from San Francisco as well as some news from the AFC West:

  • Lynch called Ron Rivera before the draft, hoping to finalize a Trent Williams trade before the virtual event began, Breer adds. The Redskins HC informed the 49ers GM “too much interest” was coming Washington’s way for the long-disgruntled tackle to have a trade done before the draft. While the 49ers rated Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs rated “incredibly high,” they preferred Kinlaw in an effort to keep their defensive line as one of the NFL’s deepest position groups. Allowing the Buccaneers to draft Wirfs at No. 13, via one-slot trade-down, preceded the 49ers winning the Williams sweepstakes. Rivera called Lynch Saturday morning to inform that San Francisco’s Friday offer of third- and fifth-round picks was enough to close a deal, according to the 49ers GM.
  • Will Dissly has suffered season-ending injuries early in each of his two NFL campaigns. The Seahawks are not ready to give up on him, however. Despite Seattle signing Greg Olsen and drafting Colby Parkinson in Round 4, Dissly is a roster lock — as long as he’s healthy — according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Regarding Dissly’s health, he fully expects to be ready for training camp, per Omar Ruiz of (video link). A 2018 fourth-rounder who has played in just 10 NFL games, Dissly suffered an Achilles tear in October of last year.
  • The Raiders are not looking to move Lamarcus Joyner back to safety. They hope to keep the ex-Rams safety as a slot corner, to the point it affected the team’s pursuit of All-Decade defender Chris Harris, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The Raiders were in on Harris, but the ex-Broncos slot standout preferred the Chargers to the Raiders.
  • The Seahawks, whose top two running backs are recovering from injuries, are not closing the door on another Marshawn Lynch contract.