Chris Ballard: We're going to work to get Michael Pittman back

Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. is on track for free agency this offseason after playing out the final year of his rookie deal and he said this week that he "wouldn’t be doing my due diligence if I didn't explore every option and find the best fit" to continue his career.

Pittman added that he's loved his four years in Indianapolis and General Manager Chris Ballard said on Thursday that he'd like to convince Pittman that the best fit is the one he knows.

"I care deeply about him," Ballard said, via Nate Atkins of the Indianapolis Star. "We have a really good relationship. It’s an honest one — almost too honest I think sometimes. But that’s what I love about him. The guy is competitive. He’s tough. He cares. He wants to win. We’re going to work to get him back. . . . Pitt is a good football player for us and hopefully he still remains a Colt.”

Pittman won't come cheap, but Ballard said the market for top receivers is going to be what it is and you "have to have gas in your car and if it’s $4 a gallon, it’s $4 a gallon." He said using the franchise tag, which would carry a salary north of $21 million, is something he'd prefer not to do, but left it on the table as a way to ensure that Pittman continues to play football for the Colts in 2024.