The Indianapolis Colts are flirting with the free agency deadline when it comes to re-signing their top priority, MLB Gary Brackett. Team owner Jim Irsay has said the Colts will make a "sizeable commitment" to Brackett with a multi-year deal, but with just 12 hours left to the deadline and no deal announced, the two sides still have some negotiating to do. Brackett and kicker Matt Stover — who is not expected to be retained — are the team's only unrestricted free agents.
Deadline deals are nothing new for the Colts — last year, the team finished negotiations with center Jeff Saturday just hours before the free-agency period began — but once free agency begins, all bets are off for the team and their defensive captain.
Earlier this week, the Colts gave a first-round tender to Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea. The tender, worth $2.521 million for the position, means the Colts will have seven days to match any offer by another team, and if Bethea were to depart Indianapolis, the Colts would get that team's first-round draft choice. That likely means Bethea will be back with the team in 2010.
The Colts restricted free agent list includes three starters: safety Melvin Bullitt, offensive lineman Charlie Johnson and defensive tackle Antonio Johnson. Bullitt and Charlie Johnson are the most likely to receive tenders from the team. The Colts grabbed Antonio Johnson from the Titans' practice squad, and while he has proved to be a valuable contributor, he's unlikely to generate much interest in the free agent market.
The rest of the team's restricted free agents — and players unlikely to receive a tender — are linebacker Freddy Keiaho, cornerback T.J. Rushing, cornerback Tim Jennings, wide receiver Hank Baskett and linebacker Tyjuan Hagler.
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