INDIANAPOLIS — Margus Hunt could've easily parlayed a career year in 2018 into an opportunity to test the open market and maximize any deals that assuredly would've came his way.
Instead, on Tuesday, Hunt signed a reported two-year contract extension to remain with the Indianapolis Colts, a little more than a week before the start of free agency.
As it turned out, Hunt didn't want to even entertain the thought of playing anywhere else.
"I was really hoping that this contract would happen sooner rather than later," Hunt told reporters Tuesday in a conference call. "So it wasn't really a hard decision to where, you know, I was wondering whether or not I was going to play out the market or not.
"I knew that if the opportunity arises for me to be back here in this kind of environment and with this team and these guys, it's a no-brainer."
The decision to bring Hunt back was likely a no-brainer for the Colts, as well, who saw the versatile defensive lineman set several career marks in 2018, finishing with 30 tackles — 13 of which were for a loss— to go with 5.0 sacks, six quarterback hits, two passes defensed, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.
Hunt began the 2018 season playing off the edge in Matt Eberflus' new 4-3 system, but as the season wore on, he found himself lined up more within the interior of the defensive front. And while he started off the year hot with four sacks in his first four games, Hunt was an especially valuable piece for one of the league's top run defenses, too, finishing with 20 run stops on the season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Hunt said the opportunity to play at several positions during training camp set him up well for when he actually had to play at certain spots once the regular season came along.
"I just think it was the training camp (practices), we had some injuries going on and around the defensive line, so I just got kind of inserted into all these different roles of playing defensive end, defensive tackle, and trying to take the reps and trying to put good stuff on tape, and that hopefully will show up," Hunt told Colts.com's Matt Taylor on Tuesday. "And it did throughout the season to where they were able to put me in all these different positions and be successful at it. And it worked out."
All individual accolades aside, however, Hunt put one priority over all others when deciding to stay in Indianapolis for another couple years.
After starting the 2018 season with a 1-5 record, the Colts stormed back to finish with wins in nine of their last 10 games to earn their first playoff appearance in four seasons. Hunt said there's something clearly building in Indy under general manager Chris Ballard and Frank Reich, and he's happy to continue playing his part in taking the team where it thinks it can go.
"The locker room that's here, and the guys that Chris and Coach (Reich) have brought in, and the chemistry we have right now, I mean, it's just something that I didn't want to change out for anything else," Hunt said.