Colts bring SS Blackmon back into fold

Apr. 2—INDIANAPOLIS — Add Julian Blackmon to the list of returning free agents for the Indianapolis Colts this season.

A league source confirmed to CNHI Sports Indiana on Tuesday that Blackmon will re-sign with the team. Bleacher Report's Jordan Schultz was first to report the news and added the deal is for one year.

Blackmon had the best season of his career in 2023 after making the move to strong safety.

He posted career highs with 88 tackles, four interceptions, eight pass break-ups, two fumble recoveries and five tackles for loss.

Perhaps even more importantly, the 25-year-old served as an on-field leader for a young and inexperienced defensive secondary.

Particularly valued for his on-field communication, Blackmon missed the final two games of the regular season with a shoulder injury as the Colts fell just one win shy of their first playoff appearance since 2020.

"I thought Julian Blackmon played really good football this year," Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard said during his season-ending news conference in January. "It sucked when he got hurt. That hurt — it did when we lost him. I thought he played excellent football."

Blackmon was allowed to test the free-agent market and made in-person visits with the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers.

But the Colts came back to the negotiating table and made him the 10th in-house free agent to be re-signed this offseason.

Blackmon and cornerback Kenny Moore II — who signed a new three-year contract last month — provide a veteran presence in a secondary that again is likely to be among the NFL's youngest units.

Second-year corners JuJu Brents and Jaylon Jones will compete for starting spots alongside third-year Dallis Flowers — who is returning from a torn Achilles' tendon.

And youngsters Nick Cross, Rodney Thomas II and Daniel Scott — who missed his entire rookie season in 2023 with an ACL injury — could compete to start at free safety alongside Blackmon.

Drafted in third round out of Utah in 2020, Blackmon has seven career interceptions, 214 tackles, 17 pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 12 tackles for loss and one sack in four seasons with Indianapolis.

He's played in 50 regular-season games with 46 starts and made five tackles in his only playoff appearance against the Bills following the 2020 regular season.

Blackmon has missed 17 games to injury over his career, but his 15 appearances in 2023 tied his career high,

Financial terms of the contract were not immediately available.