Julian Blackmon

Colts To Re-Sign S Julian Blackmon

8:55pm: Blackmon’s one-year deal is worth up to $7.7MM, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The one-year pact features $3.2MM in guaranteed money.

4:00pm: Another Colts defensive starter is staying. An Indianapolis offseason filled with re-signings will now include a Julian Blackmon re-up. The four-year starter is coming back, per Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz.

Blackmon landed on the Bills and 49ers’ radars, but the Colts resumed negotiations with the talented safety recently. That will lead to Blackmon joining a host of Colts free agents who have agreed to stay put. Blackmon is sticking around on a one-year deal. One of the others to re-sign, Kenny Moore offered some news-breaking chops regarding the Blackmon development.

The Colts have now reached agreements to retain Moore, Blackmon, Grover Stewart, Tyquan Lewis and Zaire Franklin this offseason. These moves came after Indianapolis extended Michael Pittman Jr. after franchise-tagging its top wide receiver. The Blackmon news continues a massive retention effort for GM Chris Ballard, who has regularly signed homegrown players to second (and now third, in some cases) contracts.

The Bills and 49ers did make offers, Schultz adds, but this has not been the best market for non-Xavier McKinney safeties. The Packers’ $17MM-AAV McKinney pact became an earlier outlier, with no other safety signing for more than $7.5MM per year this offseason. This resembles what went down last year, with Jessie Bates signing the only big-ticket contract among free agents. Kamren Curl needed to accept a two-year, $9MM Rams deal. Blackmon, who joined Curl as part of PFR’s top 50 free agents list, will also attempt to reestablish his value on what will likely be a modest agreement.

In the days leading up to free agency, however, the safety market expanded thanks to the Broncos and Seahawks’ transactions. Justin Simmons, Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs remain on the market. They join Eddie Jackson and Marcus Maye at a position that presented a running back-like landscape — though, with a higher top end — over the past two years.

The safety market crashing represents good news for the Colts, who will keep another of their Gus Bradley charges in the fold. Blackmon, 25, delivered his best season in 2023. The former second-round pick intercepted four passes, broke up eight more and recovered two fumbles in a solid contract year. He and Moore will continue to anchor Indy’s secondary, which still could use upgrades at outside cornerback.

Blackmon visited the Bills and 49ers last month, but the Utah alum will attempt to execute a quality “prove it” year in familiar surroundings. Playing in the slot, around the line of scrimmage and as a deep safety under Bradley, Blackmon made a career-high 88 tackles in 2023. Blackmon came back from a 2021 Achilles tear in 2022; he moved well past that injury last season. Pro Football Focus had never rated Blackmon as a top-50 safety prior to last season; the advanced metrics site slotted him 38th at the position in 2023.

It is certainly worth questioning if the Colts’ strategy to retain this many pieces from a defense that ranked 28th (24th in yards allowed) is wise, but the team has gone through with an all-out retention effort. Counting the Pittman contract, Indianapolis has shelled out more than $200MM in re-signings this offseason.

Colts Resume Julian Blackmon Talks; Team Offered Danielle Hunter More Than Texans

Operating as a retention-based GM who has shied away from big free agency pickups during his eight-year tenure, Chris Ballard continued work in this area this offseason. The Colts extended Michael Pittman Jr. and re-signed Kenny Moore, Grover Stewart and Tyquan Lewis.

Indianapolis, however, still wants more help in the secondary. Moore has worked as the team’s slot cornerback for seven years, and while his new deal takes care of that need, the Colts could use assistance on the outside and at safety. Ballard confirmed the team is looking to add in the secondary, confirming (via the Indianapolis Star’s Nate Atkins) they are considering more options in free agency. One of them, in Colts fashion, is a player whose Indianapolis rookie deal just expired.

Ballard confirmed (via ESPN’s Stephen Holder) the Colts have reengaged in talks with Julian Blackmon. The four-year starter had visited the Bills and 49ers but has not landed a deal. A Colts reunion has been in play for a bit, and considering the retention the team has already gone through with on Gus Bradley‘s defense, a second Blackmon contract would not surprise.

It is certainly possible Blackmon’s asking price led the Bills to sign Mike Edwards, who began last season as a Chiefs backup before moving into the lineup due to a Bryan Cook injury. Indianapolis had targeted Edwards as well.

The Colts used Blackmon at different spots in Bradley’s scheme, and the former third-round pick will not turn 26 until just before the season. He notched career-high marks in INTs (four), tackles (88) and passes defensed (eight) last season, but this year’s safety market — beyond Xavier McKinney — stalled due to an unexpected surplus that formed in free agency just before the new league year.

One of the few players among PFR’s top 50 free agents who has not landed a deal, Blackmon has likely been impacted by the crowded market. A few teams released high-profile safeties, leaving the likes of Justin Simmons, Micah Hyde, Quandre Diggs, Jamal Adams, Eddie Jackson and Marcus Maye unsigned. It is possible Blackmon could take a one-year deal in hopes of reestablishing his value. Nick Cross has been unable to establish himself as a starter, while Pro Football Focus rated Blackmon sidekick Rodney Thomas 78th at the position last season.

Their largely in-house offseason mission notwithstanding, the Colts did pursue Danielle Hunter. The Texas native chose Houston, but Holder adds Indianapolis offered more money. That said, it would be a bit surprising if the Colts’ proposal included more guaranteed money than Hunter received. The Texans gave the longtime Vikings edge rusher a $49MM deal that came nearly fully guaranteed; the 10th-year vet locked in $48MM at signing.

The Colts saw improvement from homegrown rushers Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo last season; the 2021 first- and second-round picks, respectively, totaled 8.5 and eight sacks in 2023. Samson Ebukam, who came over from the 49ers last year, led the team with 9.5 sacks. Hunter would have been an interesting addition capable of creating a formidable top four for Indy, but he has a clear-cut opportunity to start opposite Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Anderson Jr. in Houston.

S Julian Blackmon To Visit 49ers; Colts Deal Still In Play

MARCH 22: ESPN’s Stephen Holder confirms a deal allowing Blackmon to continue his Colts tenure could still be worked out. For now, though, he notes both player and team (along with outside suitors) are engaged in a “waiting game” until more clarity emerges with respect to the safety market or his asking price.

Several veteran backend producers are still unsigned, which will no doubt limit the extent to which interested parties will be willing to make a lucrative commitment. When the next set of safety dominoes fall, though, Blackmon will no doubt be among those to benefit.

MARCH 21: Julian Blackmon remains one of the top safety options in a crowded free agent market. He has already taken a visit with the Bills, but further interest exists around the league.

Blackmon will meet with the 49ers today, per Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report. He adds that “several suitors” are still around in this case, which comes as no surprise. The 25-year-old could find himself remaining with the Colts in 2024 on a new deal, but outside bidders will no doubt be in place for his services given the nature of his performance last season.

The former third-rounder posted four interceptions, eight pass deflections and 88 tackles in his contract year. Even in an offseason featuring several veteran safeties let go by their respective teams, Blackmon thus entered free agency as one of the top defenders on the market. He would provide a new team with a veteran of 46 career starts, and San Francisco represents a logical landing spot.

The reigning NFC champions were hit hard with injuries on the backend last season. All-Pro Talanoa Hufanga suffered an ACL tear, while George Odum was lost to a biceps injury. San Francisco was forced to rely on rookie Ji’Ayir Brown more than expected as a result, and the team brought in Logan Ryan in December as veteran insurance. The 49ers have extended Odum, and he is one of several options at the position with a special teams background.

While Hufanga and Brown are still on their respective rookie contracts, further moves at the safety spot could help the 49ers deal with a potential repeat of last year’s injury woes. The former will be in line for a lucrative new pact if he can return to health, and the latter flashed potential with three combined regular and postseason interceptions in 2023. Still, bringing in Blackmon would add considerably to the team’s secondary in the short- and long-term future (presuming his strong market results in a multi-year agreement). The 49ers entered Thursday with just under $13MM in cap space.

Bills, Colts Interested In S Mike Edwards; S Julian Blackmon Visits Buffalo

Just ahead of free agency, the Bills disbanded one of the 21st century’s top safety duos by cutting Jordan Poyer. Micah Hyde remains unsigned, but after seven years of the Poyer-Hyde tandem, the Bills have shifted in a different direction.

With both players going into their age-33 season, it is understandable the Bills viewed another year with this successful duo as a bridge too far. The Dolphins have since added Poyer on a lower-cost contract. The Bills are still looking for answers to fill the veterans’ spots. Two options — on what quickly became a crowded safety market — have emerged.

The Bills scheduled meetings with Julian Blackmon and Mike Edwards, according to Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz and the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson. Buffalo looks to have one box checked at the position, re-signing Taylor Rapp, but another starter-caliber solution will be necessary for the four-time reigning AFC East winners.

Colts GM Chris Ballard authorized third contracts for Kenny Moore and Grover Stewart this offseason, re-signing Tyquan Lewis and Taven Bryan as well. One of the few players from PFR’s top 50 free agents still available, Blackmon could still be in the team’s plans. But the former second-round pick is gauging his options on a market that became saturated with experienced safety starters.

In addition to Hyde, the Seahawks and Broncos made Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs and Justin Simmons available. The Saints cut Marcus Maye, while the Bears released Eddie Jackson. These players’ availability makes Blackmon, Edwards, Hyde and other UFAs’ quest to land notable contracts more difficult.

Blackmon is just 25, however, and should be a starter somewhere next season. Kamren Curl‘s underwhelming Rams contract did reveal a divide between what the Packers gave Xavier McKinney and the lower ceiling for the rest of the market this offseason. No other safety collected more than $7.5MM per year. It is safe to assume Blackmon, despite being a four-year Colts starter who played across the secondary in Gus Bradley‘s scheme, will land midlevel money at best — perhaps on a short-term deal as a way to improve his stock for another free agency run.

Edwards spent last season with the Chiefs, being thrust into a starting role following Bryan Cook‘s season-ending injury in early December. The former Buccaneers safety, who has now started in two Super Bowls, joined the Chiefs on a low-cost deal last year. He intercepted two passes — the second during Kansas City’s playoff run — and recovered two fumbles, returning one 97 yards during Week 18. Edwards, 27, played 97% of the Chiefs’ defensive snaps in Super Bowl LVIII.

The Colts also met with Edwards, ESPN’s Field Yates tweets. He would seem to profile as a lower-cost solution for Indianapolis, which has been busy retaining defenders this month. Blackmon departing would leave a hole at safety — on a defense already needing more help at outside corner.

Colts Place S Julian Blackmon On IR, Sign S Henry Black Off Steelers’ Practice Squad

Already facing injury issues on offense, the Colts will be shorthanded on the other side of the ball during their late-season playoff push. The team announced on Tuesday that safety Julian Blackmon has been placed on injured reserve.

As a result of the move, Blackmon will be shut down for at least four weeks, leaving him out of the lineup for Indianapolis’ two remaining regular season contests. James Boyd of The Athletic reports, though, that he could return to the lineup if the Colts manage to make a deep postseason run. The former third-rounder has remained a full-time starter in his fourth season, making his absence a notable one.

Blackmon entered the season as a pending free agent, and he has upped his value on a new Colts deal or the open market with his level of play in 2023. The 25-year-old has enjoyed a career year with 88 tackles, four interceptions, eight pass deflections and a pair of fumble recoveries. He has been a key contributor for an Indianapolis defense which has struggled in a number of categories but ranks in the top half of the league against the pass.

As part of the team’s young array of contributors on the backend, the Colts were already using 2022 seventh-rounder Rodney Thomas as a starter. The 25-year-old has amassed six interceptions in his young career, and he will be counted on to remain productive with Blackmon out of the fold. The latter’s starting spot will likely be given to Nick Cross, who has largely played on special teams to date in the NFL.

To fill Blackmon’s roster spot, the Colts brought back fellow safety Henry Black. The former UDFA signed a futures deal with Indianapolis this winter before spending time (as he did in 2022) on the team’s practice squad. He was most recently with Pittsburgh’s taxi squad, but this Colts reunion will allow him to remain on an active roster for the time being.

One of three teams still in contention to win the AFC South, the Colts have games against the Raiders and Texans remaining on their schedule. Their ability to reach the postseason in any capacity will take a hit without Blackmon available down the stretch.

Colts’ Julian Blackmon Could Be Healthy By Training Camp

The Colts have reason for optimism on the health front with respect to safety Julian BlackmonHead coach Frank Reich recently said that it’s “not a stretch” he could be back to a full workload by training camp (Twitter link via Mike Chappell of CBS4). 

[RELATED: Latest On Colts’ Leonard, Ankle Injury]

The 23-year-old tore his Achilles in October, ending his second season in the league. Blackmon almost immediately established himself as a starter in his rookie campaign, notching a pair of interceptions and six pass deflections. The injury limited him to only six contests in 2021, though.

The former third round pick would be a welcomed sight for Indianapolis if he were indeed able to return to full strength by July. However, as Chappell notes, the team “won’t push him too hard too soon” as he continues to recover. Upon his return, Blackmon would likely have a clear path to his starting role.

The Colts have re-made much of their secondary, headlined by the signing of All-Pro corner Stephon Gilmore. At the safety spot, the team brought in Armani Watts, and, days laterRodney McLeodIndianapolis added further depth via the draft, including third-rounder Nick Cross. Amidst the many changes, veteran Andrew Sendejo has not been re-signed.

Entering a season with higher expectations for the team, Blackmon will have a significant role to play, assuming he is healthy by the fall at the latest. If not, the Colts will have a number of other options to turn to on the backend.

Colts Activate Quenton Nelson From IR

Quenton Nelson will end up spending the minimum number of games during his first IR stay. The Colts activated the All-Pro guard ahead of Sunday night’s game against the 49ers.

A high ankle sprain stopped the three-time All-Pro’s start streak at 51 to start his career. Nelson kept that run going despite having foot surgery during training camp. Although Indianapolis went 2-1 without its top lineman, this certainly qualifies as good news for the team’s prospects in its second nationally televised game in three weeks.

The Colts will not have Braden Smith available, however. Indy’s right tackle will miss a sixth straight game due to foot and thumb injuries. Unlike Nelson, Smith has not spent time on IR this season. Nelson returned to practice earlier this week. Nelson, 25, will continue his track toward what will almost certainly be a record-setting guard extension. The Colts extended fellow 2018 draftees Smith, Darius Leonard and Nyheim Hines earlier this year. Nelson, however, has an extra year remaining on his contract thanks to the fifth-year option.

The Colts made room for Nelson by placing Julian Blackmon on IR. The second-year safety suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in practice this week. Former second-round pick Josh Jones, who joined the Colts’ practice squad this week, is now on the team’s active roster for its San Francisco trip. So is veteran wideout Keke Coutee. The Colts ruled T.Y. Hilton out earlier on Saturday. Hilton made his return from a neck injury last week, but he is now battling a quad ailment.

Colts S Julian Blackmon Tears Achilles

Injuries continue to affect the Colts early in the season. The team will now be without safety Julian Blackmon for the season’s remainder, after the second-year starter suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in practice Wednesday. The Colts announced the injury.

A third-round pick last year, Blackmon quickly ascended to a starting role for the Colts as a rookie and delivered a strong first season. He will now be forced into extensive rehab less than halfway through his rookie contract. Blackmon stands to be the 20th Colt placed on IR since the start of training camp.

Blackmon took over for Malik Hooker as a starter in September 2020, breaking into Indianapolis’ lineup after the former first-round pick suffered a torn Achilles. Blackmon has started 20 games since and had been one of the most dependable players on a team stricken with injuries early in its 2-4 season.

The Colts have 12th-year veteran Andrew Sendejo on the roster as a possible replacement. The journeyman defender has played 121 defensive snaps this season, filling in for starter Khari Willis. The Colts signed Sendejo after Week 1, but he missed last week’s game after suffering a concussion against the Ravens. George Odum and former second-rounder Josh Jones, who joined the team’s practice squad this week, serve as other options in the wake of Blackmon’s setback.

Draft Rumors: Dolphins, Herbert, Edwards-Helaire, Aiyuk, Shenault

The Dolphins held a predraft video meeting with Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, who reports no NFL team has done as much work on Herbert as the Dolphins. Herbert is fully expected to come off the board in Round 1 of next week’s draft, but it’s unclear if Miami will be comfortable taking him with the fifth overall selection. Per Jackson, the Dolphins’ questions about Herbert are twofold: he’s more of an introvert than an extrovert, and he is occasionally inaccurate.

Miami also conducted a video conference with LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, per Jackson, who indicates the Dolphins could consider Edwards-Helaire with pick Nos. 39 or 56 in the second round. While the Dolphins already signed veteran Jordan Howard this offseaon, Edwards-Helaire, who caught 55 passes in 2019, would add another dimension to Miami’s backfield.

Here’s more on the upcoming draft, which is now only one week away:

  • Speaking of the Dolphins, former NFL executive Gil Brandt says it would not not be a surprise for Miami to take a non-quarterback with the fifth overall pick (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY). While the Dolphins have seemingly spent the past year-plus acquiring draft capital in order to land a quarterback, it’s possible that they could go in a different direction. If Miami opts for another position at No. 5, offensive tackle could speculatively be a target area.
  • A number of prospects– including Arizona State receiver Brandon Aiyuk, Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault, and Cal safety Ashtyn Davis — recently underwent core muscle surgery but have medically cleared, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). All three should be ready for the start of the 2020 regular season. Meanwhile, Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall (ankle) has also been medically cleared, while South Carolina receiver Bryan Edwards (fifth metatarsal) and Utah safety Julian Blackmon (ACL) should be cleared by May and July, respectively.
  • While NFL teams aren’t all that concerned about the upcoming remote draft format, they are potentially worried about the undrafted free agent process, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (video link). The UDFA signing period is often a frenzy as is, and clubs think the virtual nature of the process could make it even more difficult.