Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (99) warms up before facing the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

Colts sign DT DeForest Buckner to two-year extension

Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner signed a two-year extension through 2026.

“DeForest has been the epitome of what it means to be a Colt the last four years,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said in a statement Monday. “As one of the premier defensive tackles in the league, he is a destructive force on our defensive line. DeForest is one of the pillars of our locker room. His hard work, consistency and approach to the game are vital to the success of our team. We are fortunate to have DeForest and the caliber of man he is representing our organization. I’m excited for him and his family on this much deserved contract extension.”

Under terms of the new deal, Indianapolis will pay Buckner a total of $46 million for the 2025 and 2026 seasons after the final year of his four-year, $84 million deal expires at the end of the upcoming season, according to ESPN and NFL Network.

The 30-year-old Buckner joins the top five at his position in terms of annual average salary.

The Colts acquired Buckner prior to the 2020 season from the San Francisco 49ers, and he’s paid them back handsomely with 32.5 sacks in four seasons in Indianapolis, missing only one game.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Buckner has 61 career sacks, 544 tackles, nine forced fumbles and 10 fumble recoveries in 129 games with the 49ers and Colts.

–Field Level Media

Detroit Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs (26) celebrates a touchdown against Tampa Bay Buccaneers with wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) during the second half of the NFC divisional round at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024.

Lions’ Jahmyr Gibbs, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Eagles’ Jalen Hurts added to Pro Bowl

Detroit Lions rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown were added Tuesday to the NFC roster for the upcoming Pro Bowl.

Gibbs is replacing San Francisco 49ers star running back Christian McCaffrey, whose team defeated the Lions in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. The 49ers will compete in Super Bowl LVIII against the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.

St. Brown is taking the place of Philadelphia Eagles injured wideout A.J. Brown, while the Eagles are sending two of their own to the Pro Bowl. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is replacing Niners quarterback Brock Purdy, and cornerback Darius Slay will replace San Francisco cornerback Charvarius Ward.

Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark and Minnesota Vikings fullback C.J. Ham also were added to the NFC roster. They will replace 49ers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and fullback Kyle Juszczyk, respectively.

Also, Baltimore Ravens guard Kevin Zeitler, New York Jets edge rusher Jermaine Johnson and Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and center Ryan Kelly have been added to the AFC roster. Zeitler is replacing Kansas City Chiefs guard Joe Thuney and Johnson will take the place of Los Angeles Chargers edge rusher Khalil Mack. The Colts duo is replacing Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones and center Creed Humphrey, respectively.

Gibbs, 21, had 182 carries for 945 yards and 10 touchdowns to go along with 52 catches for 316 yards and a score in 15 games this season. He was selected by the Lions with the 12th overall of the 2023 NFL Draft.

St. Brown, 24, recorded a career-high totals in catches (119), receiving yards (1,515) and touchdowns (10) in 16 games this season.

Hurts, 25, passed for career highs of 3,858 yards, 23 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 17 games (all starts) this season. He also rushed for a career-high 15 scores.

Slay, 33, had 57 tackles and two interceptions in 12 starts this year before having arthroscopic knee surgery in mid-December. This marks Slay’s sixth nomination to the Pro Bowl.

Clark, 28, had 7.5 sacks, 44 tackles and two forced fumbles in 17 games (all starts) this season.

Ham, 30, provides a presence in the backfield that overshadows his statistics. He had one carry for seven yards and seven catches for 25 yards in 17 games (five starts) this season.

Zeitler, 33, will be headed to his first Pro Bowl after starting all 15 games in which he has played this season.

Johnson, 25, recorded 7.5 sacks, 55 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 17 games (all starts) this season.

Buckner, 29, has eight sacks, 81 tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery for a touchdown in 17 games (16 starts) this season.

Kelly, 30, started all 14 games in which he played this season.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (99) leaves the field Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, after losing a game 20-3 against the Los Angeles Chargers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Colts rework DeForest Buckner’s deal to clear $2.5M

The Indianapolis Colts cleared $2.5 million in salary cap space by restructuring defensive tackle DeForest Buckner’s contract, according to multiple reports.

The Colts converted $5 million of Buckner’s 2023 salary into a signing bonus.

The 29-year-old veteran will earn a fully guaranteed salary of $19.75 million this season.

Indianapolis now has $22.4 million in cap room — the fourth most in the NFL, according to OverTheCap.com.

Buckner recorded eight sacks, 22 quarterback hits and 74 tackles in 17 games (16 starts) last season.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection and 2020 All-Pro has 53 sacks, 140 QB hits, 463 tackles and nine fumble recoveries in 112 games (109 starts) with the San Francisco 49ers (2016-19) and Colts.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard (53) reacts after a play Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Colts LB Shaquille Leonard to make season debut vs. Titans

Indianapolis Colts middle linebacker Shaquille Leonard is active Sunday and will make his season debut against the visiting Tennessee Titans.

He missed the first three games after undergoing surgery for a back injury in the offseason. He had been dealing with nerve issues that caused pain in his lower extremities.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro has piled up 538 tackles and 15 sacks in 58 games over his first four seasons. Leonard, 27, also has 17 forced fumbles and 11 interceptions, returning one of the picks for a touchdown.

The Colts also activated defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who had been listed as questionable with an elbow injury.

The inactive players for Indianapolis are safety Julian Blackmon, quarterback Sam Ehlinger, cornerback Dallas Flowers, center Wesley French, wide receiver Dezmon Patmon, offensive tackle Luke Tenuta and defensive tackle Chris Williams.

For the Titans, the inactive players Sunday are defensive backs Ugo Amadi, Amani Hooker and Theo Jackson; linebackers Wyatt Ray, Ola Adeniyi and Zach Cunningham; and offensive lineman Le’Raven Clark.

–Field Level Media

Nov 22, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws the ball in the first half against the Green Bay Packers at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Colts QB Rivers ready to roll; DL Buckner out

Philip Rivers’ consecutive starts streak of 234 games will live to see another Sunday.

Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich said Friday that Rivers “looked good” after being held out of practice the past two days as a precaution due to a toe injury.

Rivers hasn’t missed a start since breaking into the lineup as the starter for the then-San Diego Chargers in 2006.

“It’s certainly important to me and I’m thankful that I’ve been healthy enough to be out there,” Rivers said Wednesday, when he didn’t practice but watched Jacoby Brissett work with the first-team offense. “I do think there is something about that availability being there each and every week. I think there is a fine line there. You don’t just try to keep that alive to keep it alive. This isn’t one of those instances.”

The Colts will not have defensive lineman DeForest Buckner this week in a crucial AFC South showdown against the Tennessee Titans. Buckner is out due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Rivers has played through worse — including a torn ACL — in his career.

He signed a one-year deal with the Colts in March and continued his consecutive-games streak through the first 10 games for Indianapolis this season.

Rivers said he understands his injury is nothing in the grand scheme and pushed the focus to the matchup of 7-3 division rivals.

“You think about all the things you could deal with, they sound a little more legit than a toe,” Rivers said. “We’ve all heard of guys that have had different toes that nagged them, and things. Thinking about defensive backs, running backs and all those guys, I can only imagine how tough it was to deal with something. It’s a little different, but thankfully my position there is not a lot of cutting. I’ll be good.”

–Field Level Media