Pat McAfee on Wednesday signed his franchise tender, the sixth such player in the league to do so.
The move by McAfee will earn him a one-year guaranteed salary, and the team still has time to reach a multiple-year agreement with him.
The club has had a busy off-season with the addition of new players and the retention of some who made contributions last year and in previous seasons.
Ryan Grigson has spoken in the past of the importance of “culture” on the team. McAfee is a very big piece of the culture.
Since joining the club in 2009, he has been a very solid performer. Entering his fifth season, McAfee has punted 290 times for a franchise-record 45.5 average. He has had 89 punts land inside the 20, while nailing 123 touchbacks on kickoffs.
Yardage gained by special teams success often is overlooked. It’s even called “hidden” yardage.
It was not so hidden last year in two division victories. A first-quarter 42-yard punt by McAfee was fair caught at the Jacksonville 10-yard line. A defensive stop set the stage for a Colts field goal and a 3-0 lead.
A third-quarter placement punt of 36 yards was killed at the Jaguars’ four and two plays later, Darius Butler picked off a pass for an easy scoring return and a 24-3 lead.
Five games later, a booming 52-yard effort by McAfee in the third quarter went out of bounds at the Tennessee one-yard line. A play later, Cassius Vaughn picked off a pass and stepped into the end zone for a score, one that put the Colts ahead, 21-20, after trailing by 13 points at halftime.
Those are dramatic examples of the talents McAfee possesses. He has set the franchise seasonal records for gross yardage in consecutive seasons (46.6, 2011; 48.2, 2012). This past year, he set the club seasonal net record at 40.3. His 26 kicks inside the 20 tied Hunter Smith’s 2002 mark.
Enough about numbers. McAfee is a personal presence, too.
In addition to being one of the most savvy and visible communicators in the club’s Indianapolis era, he is a standup guy.
People remember the Broad Ripple incident two years ago, and how McAfee handled addressing it showed manner of the man and the quality of his heart.
There are many players in the locker room who combine to make this a positive culture. It is one that will help win games, and McAfee will be a part of the process.
Players return later this month to start working. It is a time to feel good, if you’re a Colts fan.
Having Pat McAfee going into competition is an advantage for Indianapolis.
Tags: Cassius Vaughn, darius butler, pat mcafee, ryan grigson
Posted in Colts Blog