INDIANAPOLIS — A week ago, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said that it was a priority that the team retain the services of punter Pat McAfee.
McAfee, an unrestricted free agent who's contract is due to expire on March 12, was designated as the Colts' franchise player Friday afternoon. The move allows Indianapolis extra time to work out a long-term deal for the team's special teams ace.
“He’s huge. He’s a major priority in free agency. Obviously, we’ve reached out and are working to get Pat re-signed," Pagano said during the National Football Scouting Combine. "We saw what he did for us last year. He’s a great weapon, not only kickoffs and touchbacks.
"I sat in a hospital bed and from home for 12 weeks and watched him pin guys back inside the 20, inside the 10 [yard line] over and over again. To have a weapon like that is a tremendous asset to a team. It helps with field position, helps our offense, helps our defense, set up long fields for opponent’s offenses, things like that. It’s a huge priority getting Pat back.”
National Football League teams have until March 4 to decide which impending free agents to officially designate as franchise players. The tag means that McAfee is locked up for at least one year for $2.977 million.
One thing is certain, however. The multi-talented kicker isn't going anywhere. McAfee will be with the Colts long-term.
"It’s an honor to know that I’ll be a member of the Indianapolis Colts for at least another year,” he said in a statement released by the team. “I love the city, I love the team, and I love being a member of the community. I obviously hope to work out a long-term deal to stay here forever, but one more guaranteed year is awesome. Go Colts."