Zaire Franklin

Colts, LB Zaire Franklin Agree To Extension

Zaire Franklin was under contract for 2024, but he will remain in place for years to come on a new, lucrative Colts contract. Indianapolis has agreed to a three-year, $31.26MM extension with the veteran linebacker, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

Franklin has been with the Colts since his rookie year in 2018, but his value to the team over that span has increased dramatically over the past two seasons in particular. The former seventh-rounder has taken on full-time starting duties over that span, becoming even more of a centerpiece when the decision was made to move on from Shaquille Leonard.

Between the 2022 and ’23 campaigns, Franklin has totaled 346 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 12 pass breakups and four forced fumbles. That production had him in line for a notable raise compared to the three-year, $12MM extension he inked in 2022. ESPN’s Stephen Holder confirms the 27-year-old was eyeing a new pact reflecting his value to the Colts’ defense. The team certainly agreed with that sentiment, and long-term security for both sides is now in place. The Syracuse alum will become one of only nine inside linebackers averaging over $10MM per year once this extension kicks in.

In spite of Franklin’s strong play last season, the Colts ranked 24th against the run with an average of 124 yards per game allowed on the ground. Improvement in the front seven will no doubt be a key priority for general manager Chris Ballard, who has other notable pending free agents to try and retain. Among those is defensive tackle Grover Stewart, who could be set to cash in on the continued upward movement of the position’s market on a deal with an outside team.

Frankin is due $2.8MM in salary with a cap hit of $3.36MM in 2024 under the terms of his previous pact. Adjusting the latter figure will now be an option but in any case, the Colts will have one of their top defensive playmakers in the fold for years to come. The team entered Monday with over $49MM in cap space, so plenty of financial flexibility remains for further moves.

Colts To Re-Sign LB Zaire Franklin

The Colts have plenty of cap space to work with, but a number of holes to fill on their roster. They took a step towards keeping part of their defense intact today, however. The team is re-signing linebacker Zaire Franklin on a three-year, $12MM deal (Twitter link via PFF’s Doug Kyed). The contract includes $4MM in guaranteed money.

Franklin, 25, was drafted in the seventh round by the Colts in 2018. He made it onto the roster right away, establishing himself as a core special teamer. His role in the third phase has grown since then, as he has played 80% of ST snaps in the past three campaigns.

Defensively, the Syracuse product took on a bigger workload in 2021. He played a career-high 200 defensive snaps, and started 11 of the 17 games in appeared in. He totalled 4o tackles, one interception and two pass breakups. Seen as an ascending talent, he was in line for a healthy raise compared to the earnings from his rookie contract.

With a value of $4MM per year on average, Franklin will rank second on the team in terms of annual compensation amongst the team’s linebackers, behind only Darius Leonard. With the likes of Bobby Okereke and Malik Jefferson facing free agency next year, having Franklin under contract for the medium-term future is significant for the team.

NFL COVID List Updates

We are trying our best here at Pro Football Rumors to keep up with all of the updates throughout the league concerning players on the reserve/COVID-19 list. A lot of teams had high hopes during today’s testing as they were trying to get players activated in time for Sunday’s slate of games.

Here are updates as of 8:30 PM ET, Sat 12/18:

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: DT Eddie Goldman
  • OC Bill Lazor, DC Sean Desai, STC Chris Tabor in COVID-19 protocols

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: DB P.J. Locke

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Four Coaches in COVID-19 protocols

New York Giants

New York Jets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team

Colts Sign First-Round Pick Quenton Nelson

The Colts have officially signed the bulk of their draft class. On Friday, the team announced deals with the following picks: 

The Colts wound up with an oversized draft class of eleven players, but they have only two rookies left to sign. Once second round linebacker Darius Leonard and second round guard Braden Smith put pen to paper, they’ll be done.

Nelson was widely regarded as one of the best overall talents in this year’s draft, but the early run on quarterbacks helped guide him to the Colts at No. 6. Frankly, that worked out great for the Colts as they desperately need to protect quarterback Andrew Luck this season. The QB fever allowed Chris Ballard to land this year’s top rated offensive lineman in the draft while adding two 2018 second-round picks and a 2019 second-round choice from the Jets as he moved down from No. 3 to No. 6. It’s too early to grade any team’s draft, but everyone can agree that the Colts did well for themselves in terms of value.

Nelson, a 6’5″, 235-pound lineman, boasts tremendous power and the ability to act as a double team blocker. Many feel that Nelson is one of the best bets to succeed out of this year’s top 10.

He’s so unique because he’s big, but he’s not fat. He’s one of the best run blockers I’ve ever evaluated, but he’s not a liability in pass protection like Mike Iupati is,” one NFC team personnel executive told before the draft. “He’s also an alpha who can bring and ass-kicking mindset into your position room.”