INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts and defensive end Robert Mathis have agreed on contract terms.
Indianapolis and the three-time Pro Bowler have until March 13 to complete the deal, with that date marking the start of the league year. As a procedural matter, the franchise tag was applied to Mathis while the contract details are being finalized.
Mathis, a fifth-round pick in the 2003 draft, has completed nine seasons with Indianapolis and ranks second in franchise history with 83.5 sacks.
Mathis opened 15 of 16 games at left defensive end in 2011, totaling 45 tackles and a team-leading 9.5 sacks. He also forced and recovered three fumbles.
He has been a disruptive force since joining Indianapolis. The three-time Pro Bowler has started 71 of 135 career outings and totaled 39 forced fumbles and 14 fumbles recovered in addition to his sack total.
General Manager Ryan Grigson and Head Coach Chuck Pagano have been involved in roster evaluation since joining the Colts in January. The importance of defensive pressure from Mathis and Dwight Freeney, the franchise leading sacker at 102.5, was evident.
"I just know those guys have been game-wreckers for a long time," said Pagano when speaking at the NFL Combine. "I know offenses have to account for both those guys. First and foremost, we're going to make sure that we put both those guys in positions to make plays.
"I don't think it would be very smart on my part or anybody else's part to not make sure that doesn't happen. Both those guys are great players. They have been great players here for a long time. Those guys are Colts through and through. We fully expect to have them here for as long as we can."