Skip to main content

For DeForest Buckner, impact of contract extension with Colts goes beyond football

Buckner, who signed a contract extension with the Colts on Monday, is entering his fifth season in Indianapolis. 

DeForest Buckner

DeForest Buckner grew up in Hawaii, then played his college ball at Oregon and the first four years in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.

But after signing a contract extension with the Colts on Monday, Buckner and his family's ties not only to his team, but to Indianapolis – over 2,000 miles from the Pacific Ocean – will only grow stronger.

"Being able to come here back in 2020, my wife and I were just starting our family," Buckner said. "We got two beautiful illite boys now, and just being able to raise them in this environment, in this culture out here in Indy, it's been amazing. The people have been amazing. We're both from the West Coast, I'm from Hawaii, and being able to build our little village out here with the people out here, it's been amazing, man. There's no place (else) we wanted to be — our family is rooted here."

You can watch Buckner's entire sit-down interview on Tuesday's episode of the Official Colts Podcast on YouTube, Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Since coming to Indianapolis in 2020 – the Colts traded a first-round pick to the 49ers to acquire the 6-foot-7, 295 pound defensive tackle – Buckner has been one of the NFL's best and most consistent interior defensive linemen. He was named a first-team AP All-Pro in 2020 and earned places in the 2022 and 2024 Pro Bowl, and he was voted a team captain in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Buckner is the only defensive tackle in the NFL to have at least seven sacks, 18 quarterback hits and 10 tackles for a loss in each of the last four seasons. As he signed his extension on Monday, he reflected on the work he's put in not only to establish himself as a consistently disruptive interior presence, but also as a player worthy of a difficult-to-attain third NFL contract.

"It means a lot," Buckner said. "Four years ago, (Chris) Ballard and the Irsays brought me in to do a job and try to help this team and help lead this team, and it's just a surreal feeling to be able to come back for a couple extra years and just the faith that Ballard has in me as a player, as a person, it means a lot.

"... This game, it's all about consistency. Being able to do it over the past couple years on a consistent basis playing at a high level, it's very rewarding. A second contract is hard, but a third one's even harder."

Buckner will stick around the Colts alongside several teammates who also recently earned third contracts: Cornerback Kenny Moore II, defensive end Tyquan Lewis (fourth contract), linebacker Zaire Franklin and, of course, defensive tackle Grover Stewart.

Over the last four seasons, the Buckner-Stewart pairing has been a key driver in the success of the Colts' defense. Since 2020, the Colts have the sixth-highest collective Pro Football Focus defense grade among defensive tackles. But Buckner feels like he and Stewart can continue to improve as they get more time together in Indianapolis.

"We can continue to get better each and every year," Buckner said. "Since I got here back in 2020, our chemistry, we hit it off the bat. Just each and every year we just push each other, whether it's in drills — whatever it is, we're always competing against each other to make each other better. That's the relationship you want among your teammates. That's where we're able to play at such a high level. It's so fun watching Grove over the years, the player he's become and the potential he still has to be an even better player. I'm just happy to be able to continue that over the next couple years."

For Buckner, the contract extension he signed this week also meant he and his family earned an elusive thing for NFL players: Stability. The reasons why Buckner wanted to stay with the Colts go beyond football.

And as Buckner continues to grow his impact on the field for the Colts, his family will continue to grow its roots in central Indiana.

"It means the world," Buckner said. "It's hard to find that, especially in our business. Just seeing how happy my boys are, my wife is and how happy I am with the relationships I've built out here, it's just — it's been a blessing, man. That was my priority, No. 1, was making sure I was staying here, staying put. And God willing, he blessed my family to be able to stay out here and remain Hoosiers."

Defensive tackle DeForest Bucker signed an extension with the Colts. View behind-the-scenes photos from his arrival and contract signing.

Related Content

Single Game Tickets On Sale Now!

Single Game Tickets On Sale Now!

Our 2024 schedule is set! Secure your seats to all home games at Lucas Oil Stadium now.