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Chris Ballard expects Michael Pittman Jr. to remain with Colts in 2024

Ballard was non-committal about potentially using the franchise tag on Pittman, but said he expects the impending free agent wide receiver to still be with the Colts this upcoming season. 


The question was posed to Colts general manager Chris Ballard on Wednesday at the NFL Combine: In your head, will Michael Pittman Jr. be here in September?

Ballard quickly responded: "Yes."

The Colts do not want their hyper-competitive, uber-physical 1,000-yard, 100-catch impending free agent receiver to walk out the door. That much Ballard made clear at the Indiana Convention Center two weeks before free agency begins March 13. 

As for how the Colts plan to keep Pittman – well, that's more complicated. The franchise tag or transition tag are options, as is coming to an agreement on a contract extension before or during the free agent signing period. 

Ballard praised Pittman's agent, David Mulugheta of Athletes First, and said he values the "blunt, honest" relationship he has with the 26-year-old wideout. 

"We've had talks with his agent, who's really good," Ballard said. "His agent's been doing it a long time, he's really good at what he does. We'll work hard to get a deal done. (The franchise tag's) a tool we have. I'm not going to say we're not going to use it, but I'm not gonna say we are. Hopefully we can come to an agreement and find some compromise on a deal."

The Colts have until 4 p.m. on March 5 to designate Pittman as their franchise or transition player, which would mark the organization's first use of a tag since using the franchise tag on punter Pat McAfee 11 years ago. Once noon on March 11 hits, if the Colts haven't tagged Pittman or signed him to an extension, he will be free to negotiate contract terms with other teams; if he were to agree to a contract with a team other than the Colts, it could be signed any time after 4 p.m. on March 13. 

The clock is ticking for the Colts to make a decision on how to proceed with Pittman. But whatever that decision is, the expectation is it'll result in Pittman sticking around, with his value to the Colts going beyond his box score production. 

"He cares about winning," Ballard said. "He wants to win. And when you're a good player, part of that is you want the football. I don't know if I want to be around a guy that doesn't want the ball. That's okay. And it's okay to show your personality and it's okay to demand it. There's a way to do it and a right way to do it, but it's one of the things I appreciate about Pitt.

"The one thing you never have to worry about with that guy is he empties the tank. He absolutely empties the tank."

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