Colts Use $2.977 Million Franchise Tag on Punter Pat McAfee

colts patt-mcafeePat McAfee will be the Indianapolis Colts’ starting punter for at least 1 more year. That’s because McAfee and the Colts were not able to reach an agreement on a long-term deal by Monday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline for franchised players to sign a multiyear deal.

McAfee tweeted, “I’m ecstatic about the opportunity to be an Indianapolis Colt for at least another year,’’ McAfee said in an email response to The Star. “A long-term deal is obviously something that every player hopes to one day earn. But to have another year in a city that I love, playing for a team with

He will reportedly earn a one-year, 2013 franchise tender of $2.977 million for his services—not bad for a former seventh-round pick. Bleecher Reports NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller recently ranked McAfee as the league’s number-1 punter.

Last season erased any doubt that McAfee is among league’s elite punters, if not THE best. He consistently delivered powerful kicks and managed to land the ball inside the opponent’s 20-yard line 26 times, tying former Colts punter Hunter Smith’s club record. He was also 6th in the league, averaging 47.9 yards per punt and a 40.3-yard net average last year.

It’s hard to say why the two sides were unable to reach a long-term deal. Maybe they were just too far apart with respect to the dollar value of his services. Maybe they just ran out of time. Whatever the case, it is doubtful they will let him slip away as a free agent and the end of this upcoming season. He has been far too valuable.

But his value has gone beyond the playing field. At a time when NFL players seem to be making the headlines for all the wrong reasons, McAfee has stood apart, not only as a high-character player, but as a valued member of the local Indianapolis community. He has helped Cargo Services with ‘The Books for Youth’ campaign, and was the spark behind the “Chuckstong” movement that unified Colts players and fans last season when head coach Chuck Pagano was recovering from acute promyelocytic leukemia.

McAfee recently commented, “Last year, starting the #ChuckStrong movement was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done,’’ he said of supporting coach Chuck Pagano’s battle with leukemia. “Helping promote that for at least another year with the toughest/coolest coach in the league will be awesome.

The Colts are lucky to have him on the team, and the city is lucky to have him in the community. Here’s to him staying in the community for a long time.