*INDIANAPOLIS — *Luke Rhodes’ successful transition from linebacker to long snapper will extend into a second year.
The 25-year-old William & Mary product on Monday signed his exclusive rights tender with the Indianapolis Colts, officially keeping him with the team for the 2018 season.
Rhodes entered the NFL in May 2016 as an undrafted college free agent linebacker with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and after his release during final cuts that September, he was picked up by the Colts and spent most of the season on the practice squad.
But last offseason, Rhodes — despite the fact he hadn’t snapped in a game since high school — was asked to compete with rookie Thomas Hennessy for the Colts’ long snapper role, a job he would eventually win out by the end of the preseason.
By all accounts, Rhodes would turn in a solid first season as a snapper, working alongside future Hall of Fame kicker Adam Vinatieri and rookie punter/kickoff specialist Rigoberto Sanchez. In all, Rhodes competed in all 16 games and recorded one special teams tackle.
Rhodes is the first of four Colts exclusive rights free agents to sign back with the team for 2018. On March 14, the Colts tendered Rhodes, cornerback Chris Milton, tight end Mo Alie-Cox and guard Jeremy Vujnovich.
Exclusive rights free agents are players with two or fewer accrued years of NFL experience whose contracts are expiring. Their original team must tender the player by the league’s new year (which was at 4 p.m. ET on March 14), or the player becomes a free agent. If tendered, however, the team has exclusive rights to that player for the upcoming season, and then it’s up to the player to sign that tender offer.