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Julian Blackmon returns to Colts focusing on continuity, improvement and health in 2024

Blackmon, who set several career highs in 2023, re-signed with the Colts on Tuesday. 

In re-signing safety Julian Blackmon this week, the Colts in 2024 have now retained and/or extended a player in every defensive position group:

  • Defensive end: Tyquan Lewis (re-signed)
  • Defensive tackle: Grover Stewart (re-signed)
  • Linebacker: Zaire Franklin (extended)
  • Cornerback: Kenny Moore II (re-signed)
  • Safety: Julian Blackmon (re-signed)

The Colts' commitment to so many core veteran pieces of their defense wasn't lost on Blackmon as he re-upped with the team that drafted in him 2020.

"For the team to bring everyone back, it just showed what they wanted and how great the organization is and how much the teammates of mine love being here," Blackmon said on this week's Official Colts Podcast (YouTube | Apple Podcasts | Spotify). "Obviously when you get all of us to come back that've been playing here for a while, it's one of those things where, it's more than just football — it's family here. And so seeing everybody else sign here was another reason why I was so excited to come back."

Blackmon's free agency experience was different than what his teammates went through, though. Lewis, Stewart and Moore all put pen to paper two days after the NFL's free agency negotiation period opened; Franklin signed an extension a year before he was set to become a free agent. Blackmon, meanwhile, signed a little over four weeks into free agency.

The process was challenging for Blackmon, who pointed to 2024's league-wide trend at the safety position. A glut of safeties were available in free agency, and several former Pro Bowlers and All-Pros remain on the open market as teams turn their attention to the NFL Draft in a few weeks.

For Blackmon, he leaned on the people closest to him and the advice he got from players who've been through the free agency process before.

"I think that it was a lot of trying to take emotion out of it, and take it for what it was," Blackmon said. "This is a business first when it came to that point. That's when it kind of got real for me and I started to understand, I can't take it personal. Just understand how the market works and how free agency works and how you it can boom or it can crash. And for my position it got a little bit difficult there for a little bit.

"But I was able to have the support of my family, a great agent who did a great job. So for me, I just tried to focus on, every day, what I could control because I couldn't' control the market, I couldn't control the business side of it, but I could control waking up every day and going to work out, being with my family, being with my fiancé."

In his return to Indianapolis, Blackmon brings valuable experience (46 career starts) and career-high numbers from 2023 (88 tackles, four interceptions, five tackles for a loss) to the Colts' safety room. He smoothly made the switch from playing a deeper free safety position to a closer-to-the-line strong safety spot in 2023, which Blackmon said allowed him to play free and fast.

"It just fits my role better, it fits my personalty better," Blackmon said. "I'm more of a talkative person, I like to be around the ball and I like the take the ball away, and so that strong safety position in this defense, specifically, is more of that role. For me, it was kind of easy to move over there and start making those plays."

As Blackmon looks to build on that transition to strong safety, he'll do it with an eye on staying healthy for an entire season. The 25-year-old ended the 2023 season on injured reserve due to a shoulder injury sustained in Week 16, and he's never played more than 15 games in a year for a variety of reasons – not all of which were in his control.

"(Going on injured reserve) was hard, because I think everybody knows that as long as I've been in the league, I haven't been able to play every single game," Blackmon said. "And so that's one of those things that's on my mind for these next coming up years, because it's hard when you get to the NFL, you obviously know that some things happen, freak accidents happen.

"And so for me, it's kind of one of those things that I do want to finish this out. I want to be one of the guys that can be on the field and reliable and available throughout the whole season. That's one of those things that's been on my mind, and I want to do everything I can for this team to take the next step and I think it's important for me to play all 17."

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