Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis agreed to a contract extension with Indianapolis on Monday soon after the Colts used their franchise tag on him. It’s a stunning four-year, $36 million contract with a $15 million signing bonus.
Mathis, 31, has been with the Indianapolis Colts since the team selected him in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft and ranks second in franchise history with 395 tackles, 83.5 sacks and 39 forced fumbles through 135 career games. He has led the Colts in sacks in six of the past seven seasons and was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of the past four seasons.
The 31-year-old opened 15 of 16 games at left defensive end in 2011, totaling 45 tackles and a team-leading 9.5 sacks. He also forced and recovered three fumbles.
Mathis plays a key role in the Colts’ defense over the past nine seasons, pairing with Dwight Freeney to form one of the NFL’s best pass-rushing tandems. Freeney holds the club record for sacks (102½), while Mathis reserves second in franchise history.
The act comes three days before the Colts have to make an even bigger decision about Peyton Manning’s future, but the idea to keep Mathis and Dwight Freeney together in Colts was, clearly, one of the team’s offseason priorities.
Mathis and Freeney are expected to play prominent roles in the new defense brought in by first-year coach Chuck Pagano.