10-Year Veteran Center Returns to Colts
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts on Friday announced they have agreed to terms with veteran center Jeff Saturday, preventing him from reaching free agency and allowing him to return in 2009 for his 11th season with the club.
Saturday has been a part of a line that has allowed the club to be among the most prolific NFL offenses. He has started 140 of 149 career regular-season games with the Colts. The line has allowed a league-best 192 sacks since 1999, while during that span reaching the playoffs an NFL-best nine times and totaling at least 5,000 yards for 11 consecutive seasons and 400 points eight times. Saturday and the line have helped Peyton Manning perform at a level as high as any quarterback in NFL history. Manning and Saturday have started in 138 games as a quarterback/center tandem, second-most in NFL history to Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly and center Kent Hull's 157 starts. Saturday is a three-time Pro Bowl choice (2005-07), and helped the Colts to a Super Bowl title in 2006.
The Colts' agreement with Saturday comes after the club re-signed cornerback Kelvin Hayden last Thursday, meaning it has retained two of its top players before allowing them to reach free agency.
The Colts also announced other free agency and roster news. Linebacker Freddy Keiaho, due to be a restricted free agent, was not offered a tender, while seven Colts players are unrestricted free agents: DB-Matt Giordano, LB-Tyjuan Hagler, DB-Keiwan Ratliff, DE-Darrell Reid, RB-Dominic Rhodes, P-Hunter Smith and DE-Josh Thomas.
Player Additions Since End of 2008 Season
The club confirms the free agent or waiver additions of the following players since the end of the 2008 season: LB-Rufus Alexander, DB-Brannon Condren, P-Mike Dragosavich (waiver claim), DB-Brandon Foster, WR-Sam Giguere, OT-Corey Hilliard, DB-Travis Key, LB-Michael Okwo, TE-Jamie Petrowski, WR-Taj Smith, DB-Brandon Sumrall. The Colts also offered tenders to the following Exclusive Rights Free Agents: running back Lance Ball, linebacker Buster Davis, offensive lineman Dan Federkeil and defensive tackle Daniel Muir.
The club has no franchise player in 2009.
The "exclusive" designation prohibits the player from getting an offer from another team, and brings a one-year contract equal to an average of the top five players at his position at the end of the upcoming free agent signing period. A "non-exclusive franchise" player still would be able to solicit a contract offer from another team, but his previous team could either match the offer, or receive two first-round draft picks from the new team as compensation. This designation brings a one-year deal equal to the average of the top five players at his position at the end of the previous season.
Unrestricted Free Agents
The player has at least four years in the NFL and his contract expired on February 26. He is free to sign with any team, with his previous team receiving no compensation.
Restricted Free Agents
The club has no restricted free agents in 2009.
The player has three years in the NFL and his contract expired on February 26. The deadline for his team to submit a one-year qualifying offer to retain a right of first refusal or draft pick compensation is February 26. A player issued a qualifying offer can sign an offer sheet with another team through April 17. His previous team may either match the offer and retain the player, or receive compensation from the new team based on the level of the original qualifying offer. The four restricted qualifying offers are $2.792 million (in which case the compensation would be first-and third-round draft picks), $2.198 million (first-round draft pick), $1.545 million (second-round draft pick) and $1.010 million (a draft pick in the same round the player was drafted).