INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard on Saturday said the team plans to exercise the fifth-year option on center Ryan Kelly’s rookie contract.
The Colts have until May 3 to officially make the move, which would keep Kelly in Indy through at least 2020.
Kelly, who turns 26 next month, was college football’s top center when the Colts selected him with their first-round (18th-overall) pick in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Alabama, where he was a three-time national champion and did not allow a sack during his final two seasons.
Kelly would go on to become the fifth Colts offensive lineman — and the first center — to start all 16 games as a rookie.
Since that time, Kelly has seen his game improve with each season. In 2018, he was named a Pro Bowl alternate for the first time in his career after anchoring one of the league’s top offensive lines; the Colts last season allowed just 18 sacks, the fewest in the NFL, and Kelly was part of a unit that didn’t allow a sack in five straight games, which tied the New York Giants (2010) and the Tennessee Titans (2008) for the third-longest streak in the league since 1982.
In Weeks 7 and 8, Kelly helped pave the way for back-to-back 200-yard rushing performances, which was the first time the Colts had accomplished that feat in the same season since 1985.
“Ryan Kelly is probably the most underrated offensive lineman in the NFL,” Colts quarterback Andrew Luck told reporters last season.
Kelly should become the first Colts player to have his fifth-year option picked up since Luck back in 2015.