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Colts place franchise tag on WR Michael Pittman Jr.

The Indianapolis Colts applied the non-exclusive franchise tag on wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., first reported by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network on Tuesday. The team confirmed the news shortly afterward.

The deadline to apply the franchise tag was 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, which means the Colts had to make a decision if they failed to reach a long-term contract extension with their star wideout.

It seems the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on a new deal, but the application of the franchise tag extends the window to negotiate further throughout the spring and summer.

The value of the franchise tag at wide receiver is $21,816,000 for the 2024 season.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard made it clear they want Pittman here for the long haul and that the 26-year-old will be a member of the team in 2024 regardless of whether it’s on a new contract or under the franchise tag.

The non-exclusive tag will allow Pittman to field offers from other teams. It also gives the Colts the chance to match or refuse any offer that is made. If the Colts refuse an offer made to Pittman by another team, and he agrees to that deal, the Colts would be compensated with two first-round picks.

The likelihood of a tag and trade scenario is unlikely unless both sides are on completely opposite ends of the spectrum.

There is mutual interest in keeping Pittman as a member of the Colts so this move is likely a tactic to extend the window of negotiations. Pittman doesn’t have to sign the franchise tag until the middle of July.

This is the first time since 2013 the Colts have used the franchise tag.

Pittman is coming off his best season in the NFL and has only gotten better with each season as a professional. He recorded 106 receptions for 1,152 yards during the 2023 season, both of which were career-high marks.

Despite working with seven different starting quarterbacks since entering the league in 2020, Pittman’s 3,662 receiving yards rank fifth among his peers in that draft class while his 336 receptions rank third behind only CeeDee Lamb (395) and Justin Jefferson (392).

In terms of Colts history, Pittman’s 336 receptions are the most in franchise history through a player’s first four seasons. He ranks third in receiving yards behind only T.Y. Hilton (4,413) and Marvin Harrison (4,141).

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire